Liposuction or Suction-Assisted Lipectomy

Suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), traditionally known as liposuction, is a method of removing unwanted fatty deposits from specific areas of the face and body. Small incisions are made and a cannula is inserted attached to a vacuum device that suctions out the fat. Suction-assisted lipectomy is not an alternative to weight loss. It is intended for use on localized areas of fat that do not respond to diet or exercise. Areas suitable for liposuction include the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, area above the breasts, the abdomen, flanks, the buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves and ankles. Liposuction can improve body contour and provide a sleeker appearance.

The procedure takes from one to four hours, depending upon the amount of fat to be removed. Procedures that are not too extensive can be performed on an outpatient basis on patients under local anesthesia. Extensive procedures are usually performed on patients under general anesthesia.

After liposuction, you can expect some temporary bruising, swelling, soreness and/or a burning sensation. The treated area may feel numb for a few months.

After suction-assisted lipectomy, patients can generally go back to work within one week and can resume strenuous activity in four weeks. Swelling may persist for up to six months.

The best and most longlasting results from liposuction are in those patients committed to a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and physical activity.

Procedural Steps

First, Anesthesia is induced

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. This procedure is usually done under, local, local with IV sedation or general anesthesia.

The incisions

Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.

First, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through the incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.

Liposuction Area1
Liposuction Area2

Problem areas that can be addressed with liposuction:

The Results

Liposuction Area2
Liposuction Area2

Your improved body contour will be apparent once the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside.


During your liposuction recovery, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas once your procedure is completed. These help to control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours.

You will be given specific instructions that will include how to care for the surgical site, your activity level, when you can shower and when to follow up in the office.

It may take several months for the swelling to fully dissipate. As it does, your new contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop.

Liposuction risks and safety information

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of liposuction are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.

Liposuction risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bruising
  • Change in skin sensation that may persist
  • Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Infection
  • Irregular contours or asymmetries
  • Irregular pigmentation
  • Need for revision surgery
  • Persistent swelling
  • Poor wound healing
  • Rippling or loose skin, worsening of cellulite
  • Swelling
  • Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions prior to surgery.

Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts – usually more than five liters of fat – are suctioned.