What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure used to remove unwanted body fat.

It involves sucking out small areas of fat that are hard to lose through exercise and a healthy diet. It’s carried out on areas of the body where deposits of fat tend to collect, such as the buttocks, hips, thighs and tummy.

The aim is to alter body shape, and the results are generally long-lasting, providing you maintain a healthy weight.

It works best in people who are a normal weight and in areas where the skin is tight.

What to expect during liposuction?

Liposuction is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, although an epidural anaesthetic may be used for liposuction on lower parts of the body.

Liposuction involves injecting the treatment area with a solution containing anaesthetic and medicine to reduce blood loss, bruising and swelling. The fat cells are then broken up using high-frequency vibrations, a weak laser pulse or a high-pressure water jet.

A small incision (cut) is made and suction tube attached to a vacuum machine is inserted (several cuts may need to be made if the area is large). Fat is then loosened and sucked out. Finally, any excess fluid and blood is drained and the incision is stitched back up and dressed.

This usually takes 1 to 3 hours. Most people need to stay in hospital overnight to be monitored. If you had a general anaesthetic, someone would need to drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours.

Liposuction recovery

You will leave with a bandage or corset covering the affected area, after about a week stitches will be removed (unless you had dissolvable stitches).

You will need to avoid strenuous activity for up to 4 to 6 weeks (but walking and general movement should be fine).

How long it will be before you are able to return to work and to driving will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of job that you do and how much of your body was treated. You should discuss this with your surgeon.

The results of the procedure are not always noticeable until the swelling has gone down. It can take up to 6 months for the area to settle completely.

What are the risks of Liposuction?

Liposuction is a safe and common procedure, and the majority of cases are successful. However, as with all surgical procedures there is the possibility of problems occurring, including:

  • changes in skin colour in the treated area
  • bleeding under the skin (haematoma)
  • experience numbness in the treated area for an extended period
  • lump and uneven results
  • a build-up of fluid (pulmonary oedema) or a blood clot (pulmonary embolism) in the lungs resulting from the fluid injected into the body

Your surgeon will be able to tell you more about these risks, including how likely they are and how they’ll be corrected if you have them.

Our plastic surgery experts

From aesthetic enhancements to advanced reconstructive procedures, our specialists are dedicated to delivering personalised care tailored to your unique needs.