What is liposuction?

Cosmetic surgeon Mr Nilesh Sojitra explains how liposuction works, and discusses other important information about the procedure.

Liposuction (or liposculpture or bodycontouring) is a procedure whereby fat is removed from areas of the body which otherwise may make you appear disproportionate.

Spire patient Jenni, pictured above, had liposuction to her buttocks and thighs to achieve the hourglass figure she had always wanted; read her full patient experience of the procedure.

Who are the best candidates for liposuction?

If your weight is normal but you have small areas of fat which are hard to shift, despite dieting and exercise, then you may be suitable for liposuction. The skin will also need a certain level of elasticity for the procedure to be a success.

However, if you’re looking to remove cellulite then liposuction is not the procedure for you as liposuction can’t correct cellulite.

What is involved in the procedure?

Liposuction is usually performed using a general anaesthetic and, depending on how much fat is removed, you may be able to go home the same day or after one night in hospital.

Once you’re in surgery fat is removed by first inserting a small, hollow tube (called a cannula) through one or more tiny incisions. The incisions are usually less than 1cm in length and are placed as inconspicuously as possible. The cannula is connected to a vacuum pressure unit (for liposuction) or syringe (for liposculpture). The fat is then sucked out depending on the amount needed. 

Liposuction can be performed on its own or alongside other cosmetic procedures.

How quickly will I recover after liposuction?

Each person experiences different degrees of bruising, swelling, and some tenderness, and all of these improve over time. The consultant anaesthetist will prescribe you with adequate medication to take home to alleviate any discomfort you may experience.

You will wear dressings over the area where the fat was taken and it’s important not to get the dressings wet after surgery. You’ll also need to wear a tight fitting lycra pressure garment to reduce swelling in the first six weeks after the operation.

You should have an appointment with your consultant a week after surgery where they will remove all the dressings.  Your consultant should also closely follow your recovery to ensure you are able to resume exercising and normal activities.
Depending on your type of work, and depending on the amount of fat taken and where it was taken from, you may return to work between two to 14 days after the procedure. However, you should not undertake heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for at least six weeks. All in all it will take approximately three months for the swelling to completely subside.

How long will the results last?

As long as you maintain a healthy diet and exercise the results should last a lifetime.

Will liposuction help me lose weight?

Liposuction will help in that the amount of fat removed will be taken off your weight. However, if you don’t maintain a healthy diet and exercise then the weight will return.

What is the difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck?

Liposuction is the removal of fat only and relies on the elasticity of the skin to shrink back. A tummy tuck involves the surgical removal of skin and fat as the skin has lost its elasticity and will not shrink back enough to leave an aesthetic result.


Mr Nilesh Sojitra is a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Spire Harpenden Hospital.


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.