Liposuction is a type of surgery. It uses suction to remove fat from specific areas of the body, such as the stomach, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms or neck. Liposuction also shapes these areas. That process is called contouring. Other names for liposuction include lipoplasty and body contouring.
Liposuction isn’t considered an overall weight-loss method or a weight-loss alternative. People who are overweight can lose more weight through diet and exercise or through other kinds of surgery than with liposuction.
Liposuction may work for you if you have a lot of body fat in specific places but otherwise have a stable body weight.

Liposuction removes fat from areas of the body that don’t respond to diet and exercise. These include the:

  • Abdomen.
  • Upper arms.
  • Buttocks.
  • Calves and ankles.
  • Chest and back.
  • Hips and thighs.
  • Chin and neck.

In addition, liposuction can sometimes be used to reduce extra breast tissue in men — a condition called gynecomastia.

  • When you gain weight, fat cells get bigger. Liposuction lowers the number of fat cells in a specific area. The amount of fat removed depends on what the area looks like and the volume of fat. The resulting shape changes are usually permanent as long as your weight remains the same.
  • After liposuction, the skin molds itself to the new shapes of the treated areas. If you have good skin tone and elasticity, the skin usually looks smooth. If your skin is thin and not elastic, the skin in the treated areas may look loose.
  • Liposuction doesn’t help with dimpled skin from cellulite or other differences in the surface of the skin. Liposuction also doesn’t remove stretch marks.
  • To have liposuction, you must be in good health without conditions that could make surgery more difficult. These can include blood flow problems, coronary artery disease, diabetes or a weak immune system.

Risks Factors

As with any surgery, liposuction has risks. These risks include bleeding and a reaction to anesthesia. Other risks specific to liposuction include:

  • Contour irregularities. Your skin may appear bumpy, wavy or withered due to uneven fat removal, poor skin elasticity and scarring. These changes may be permanent.
  • Fluid buildup. Temporary pockets of fluid, called seromas, can form under the skin. They may need to be drained using a needle.
  • Numbness. You may feel temporary or permanent numbness in the treated areas. Nerves in the area also may feel irritated.
  • Infection. Skin infections are rare but possible. A severe skin infection may be life-threatening.
  • Internal puncture. Rarely, if the thin tube used during surgery penetrates too deeply, it may puncture an internal organ. This may require emergency surgery to repair the organ.
  • Fat embolism. Pieces of fat may break away and become trapped in a blood vessel. They then may gather in the lungs or travel to the brain. A fat embolism is a medical emergency.
  • Kidney and heart problems. When large volumes of liposuction are performed, fluid shifts. This can cause possibly life-threatening kidney, heart and lung problems.
  • Lidocaine toxicity. Lidocaine is a medicine that is used to help manage pain. It’s often given with fluids injected during liposuction. Although lidocaine usually is safe, lidocaine toxicity sometimes can occur, causing serious heart and central nervous system problems.


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