The Ultimate Guide to Liposuction Surgery

If you're considering liposuction surgery, it's important to know all the facts about what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. Here is your ultimate guide to liposuction surgery.

Do you have stubborn fat you can't get rid of?

Sometimes, no matter how hard we work, diet and exercise aren't enough. A lack of results can become frustrating and force you to look for alternatives.

If you're considering liposuction surgery, you're not alone. Almost 250,000 liposuction procedures were performed in the U.S. just last year.

But you need to know all the facts. We've broken down the different types of lipo and what you can expect before, during and after the procedure. Read on to see if this is the right choice for you.

What Is Liposuction Surgery?

Liposuction has been helping people deal with unwanted fat for a while. You've likely heard of it but perhaps aren't quite sure what's involved. In it's most traditional form, the surgery is a procedure that sucks fat through a vacuum from underneath your skin. As it removes the fat, your surgeon can also use the instruments to shape and contour your body.

The procedure targets the stubborn fat that diet and exercise can't get rid of. If you're considering liposuction, you should have already tried to remove or reduce your excess fat with other methods, as any surgery should be the last resort as opposed to a first option.

The procedure can be done almost anywhere on the body there is excess fat but the most common areas are belly, thighs, buttocks, and hips. These areas, especially in women, tend to be the places where cellulite and fat remain even with the proper diet and exercise routine.

Over the years there have been many new innovations when it comes to fat removal, making the procedure less invasive and at times, even nonsurgical. Read on to learn about the different kinds of liposuction and which one might be right for you.

Different Kinds of Liposuction

We already know about the original and most common form of liposuction otherwise known as SAL or Suction Assist Liposuction, where fat is removed via a vacuum. Here is some newer technology.

Laser Liposuction

The use of lasers is a hot trend among the beauty and plastic surgery world lately. Laser liposuction essentially uses the heat and energy of a laser to melt your fat away. The theory is that if your fat is melted before it is removed, it can be removed in a more gentle, less invasive way.

While this might sound like a good option, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Because they're working with lasers and the procedure is less invasive, many not-so-skilled surgeons are embarking on this endeavor and performing the procedure when they shouldn't.

The laser option allows you to avoid the hospital and only use a local anesthesia. This sounds lovely but the reality is you can also use a local anesthesia with traditional liposuction so don't let this fact sway your choice.

If you are going with laser lipo, be sure you are still seeing a qualified surgeon who is experienced in this type of procedure. With a laser involved, there is a risk of burning and other thermal caused impairments.

Keep in mind that studies have revealed laser lipo to be no safer or more effective than traditional lipo. We're not suggesting you avoid this type of procedure as it does have its benefits and has become popular lately, just be sure to do your research and find a surgeon you trust.


Vaser, otherwise known as Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction, uses ultrasound energy to break down fat and then a vacuum to remove it. This takes place by making an incision in whichever area you're treating and placing the ultrasound technology inside your body to contact the fat directly.

The brand claims the benefits include less swelling, bruising and blood loss. They also say this is a smoother and less complex surgery to perform overall, making both the patient and surgeon happy. They claim to be able to remove fat from more challenging places like the back and love handles.

While some see success with this type of procedure, it's again important to make sure you select a skilled and experienced surgeon to perform it. Something to keep in mind, however, is that the incision will need to be larger than a typical liposuction incision because the ultrasound device is bigger, which could lead to more scarring.

Power Assisted Liposuction

This may be the right choice for you if you have a large amount of fat that needs to be removed. The machine works faster and more efficiently to remove excess fat, making it great for your surgeon to complete a bigger job at once and without burning out.

It works the same way as traditional SAL, however, the tube they insert, otherwise known as the cannula, vibrates, allowing it to break down the fat faster than it typically would. But when it comes to results, there is no major difference between PAL and SAL.

If you aren't intending to cover large areas that have a lot of fat, there's no reason to opt for this version as opposed to the traditional lipo.

High Definition Liposuction

HDL is a much more in-depth procedure that requires two steps. The purpose of this surgery, as you may have guessed from its name, is to define and chisel the muscles in your body, mainly your torso and abdominal muscles, that are hiding under your fat.

This means first, the fat must be removed in the traditional way. The cannula is placed in very specific places where the surgeon understands a significant loss of fat will enhance the way the muscles appear. Next, the muscle is enhanced and fat is grafted to achieve that six pack look which everyone is after.

Because this is a more layered procedure, you can expect both the surgery itself and the recovery time to take longer.

Are You a Candidate?

Before you schedule your procedure, it's important to determine if liposuction is the right choice for you.

Always consult your general practitioner before participating in even a routine procedure. He or she can tell if you if you are at a higher risk for complications or if this surgery is something to avoid based on your current medical condition or prior history.

Your surgeon will want to make sure you're not a smoker and have no life-threatening or serious illnesses or injuries. You also need to be sure that you are within about 30% of your ideal weight. This means, your surgeon may as you to lose weight if you don't fall within that realm.

The reason for this is that while liposuction can help reduce fat, it's not meant to be a substitute for diet or exercise. Before you receive the procedure, you want to be sure you're in as good of shape as you can feasibly get yourself into without the help of surgery. Once there, the results of liposuction will be greater and more visible to you.

Selecting a Surgeon

This is truly the most important part and selecting the right surgeon to perform this procedure should not be taken lightly. First, use the internet as a guide. Well-known and respected doctors are highly regarded in their reviews online. On the flip side, when patients have a poor experience with a physician, they are also inclined to write a review and share their story.

Reading online reviews should help you narrow down a surgeon. See if patients who had the same procedure you're interested in were happy with their results and with the conduct and professionalism of the doctor and the office altogether.

Once you've narrowed down your choices, you should schedule a consultation. Most consultations are free although some may require a small payment due at the time of the meeting. Regardless, a consultation is essential before you select a surgeon.

Go in with a list of questions or concerns. You may only get a limited amount of time with him or her so you want to be sure you use it well. You can tell a lot about a practice from an initial visit.

Is the staff organized, helpful and kind? Is the office clean and running smoothly? Notice the doctor's bedside manner and how quickly they rush you out of the room or if they spend time walking you through the steps of the procedure and explaining what you can expect.

You also want to be sure you're selecting a surgeon who is realistic with you about expectations. While liposuction is a great aid to achieving your ideal body, it won't do all the work. Be wary of any doctor who wants to overdo it on the areas your treating or who promises life-changing results from the procedure.

What to Expect

Now that you've selected your surgeon and decided on the type of procedure you're willing to undergo, it's surgery day. So, what can you expect?

If you are getting liposuction that requires an incision or anesthesia of any kind, you'll need to have someone drive you to and from the doctor's office. Once you arrive, you'll be taken by nurses into a room to prepare for the surgery. Your surgeon should stop by to check on you and go over what will take place.

The anesthesia will be administered and the surgery will be performed. When you wake up from the procedure, you can expect the area which was treated to be wrapped tightly to reduce swelling and minimize your pain. Don't expect to see results right away.

Your body will swell since it has just experienced a kind of trauma. You can expect swelling to last for several days or even weeks. You should expect to return to your surgeon a few times after the surgery to check on your progress and be sure you are healing correctly.


Recovery from liposuction is pretty quick. Hopefully, your surgeon has done everything they can to be sure the incision was minimal and the swelling is under control. If all went smoothly, you can likely return to your normal life in just a few days.

Your doctor can prescribe you pain medication which can be taken for a day or two right after surgery however over the counter pain reducers should also work fine. Once your bandages are removed, your doctor will likely give you a garment to wear underneath your clothing for a period of time. This item will have compression material that is meant to keep the skin tight and the swelling down.

At first, your scars will be visible but they'll fade over time. Once you've recovered and no longer need to wear the compression garment, you can rub vitamin E oil or other scar minimizing serums to help it fade quickly. Most people don't even notice their scar after about a year.

Liposuction Alternatives

If you're not sure this procedure is right for you, keep in mind there are other nonsurgical options available to you. Body contouring and cool sculpting have become popular because it offers fat minimizing or reduction without the commitment of a surgery.

These techniques typically involve heat or cold energy that is meant to reduce fat cells, but not remove them entirely. While these newer and less invasive techniques might be the best choice, remember they won't have the same noticeable results as liposuction.

What's Right for You?

Now that you understand what is involved during a liposuction surgery, you can determine if this is the right procedure for you. It can certainly offer great results and get rid of fat you aren't able to remove on your own.

Be sure to talk with a doctor before committing to any surgery and stay realistic about the results.

We'd love to help you feel confident and beautiful in your own skin. Contact us for a free consultation and don't forget to check out our blog for more cosmetic tips.