Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, liposculpture suction, lipectomy, or lipo, is a type of cosmetic surgery that breaks up and "sucks" fat from the body.
It is often used on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, neck, chin, upper and backs of the arms, calves, and back.
The fat is removed through a hollow instrument, known as a cannula. This is inserted under the skin. A powerful, high-pressure vacuum is applied to the cannula.
Liposuction is the most common cosmetic operation in the United States. More than 300,000 procedures are carried out in the United States each year with costs ranging from roughly $2,000-3,500.
Fast facts on liposuction
Here are some key points about liposuction. More detail is in the main article.
The operation is normally carried out under general anesthesia.
Liposuction is not a weight-loss tool but a cosmetic procedure with subtle effects.
Risks include infection and scarring
Liposuction can be used to treat some medical conditions.
What is liposuction?
Liposuction is not an overall weight-loss method.
People who undergo liposuction usually have a stable body weight but would like to remove undesirable deposits of body fat in specific parts of the body.
Liposuction is not an overall weight-loss method. It is not a treatment for obesity.
The procedure does not remove cellulite, dimples, or stretch marks. The aim is esthetic. It suits those who wish to change and enhance the contour of their body.
Liposuction permanently removes fat cells, altering the shape of the body. However, if the patient does not lead a healthy lifestyle after the operation, there is a risk that the remaining fat cells will grow bigger.
The amount of fat that can be safely removed is limited.
There are some risks, including infection, numbness, and scarring. If too much fat is removed, there may be lumpiness or dents in the skin. The surgical risks appear to be linked to the amount of fat removed.
Liposuction is mainly used to improve appearance, rather than providing any physical health benefits. Most people would probably achieve the same or better results by adopting a healthful lifestyle, with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a healthy sleep schedule.
Liposuction is normally advised only if lifestyle changes have not achieved the desired results. It can treat areas of fat that are resistant to exercise and diet.
When an individual gains weight, each fat cell increases in size and volume. Liposuction reduces the number of fat cells in isolated areas.
People should discuss the pros and cons of liposuction with their doctor before deciding on whether to proceed. Liposuction should only be carried out after careful consideration.
Results are subtle rather than dramatic.
The following body areas are commonly targeted for liposuction treatment:
Liposuction is cosmetic rather than health-focused.
flanks (love handles)
neckline and the area under the chin
thighs, both "saddlebags," or outer thighs, and inner thighs
Liposuction works best for people with good skin tone and elasticity, where the skin molds itself into new contours.
People whose skin lacks elasticity may end up with loose-looking skin in areas where the procedure was done.
The person needs to be over 18 years of age and in good health. Those with circulation or blood flow problems, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune systems should not undergo liposuction.
Liposuction is normally done for cosmetic purposes, but it is sometimes used to treat certain conditions.
Lymphedema: A chronic, or long-term, condition in which excess fluid known as lymph collects in tissues, causing edema, or swelling. The edema commonly occurs in the arms or legs. Liposuction is sometimes used to reduce swelling, discomfort, and pain.
Gynecomastia: Sometimes fat accumulates under a man's breasts.
Lipodystrophy syndrome: Fat accumulates in one part of the body and is lost in another. Liposuction can improve the patient's appearance by providing a more natural looking body fat distribution.
Extreme weight loss after obesity: A person with morbid obesity who loses at least 40 percent of their BMI may need treatment to remove excess skin and other abnormalities.
Lipomas: These are benign, fatty tumors.