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Stubborn fat that's difficult to shift through diet or exercise often occurs on the tummy, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees and chin. Liposuction - commonly known as 'lipo' - reshapes the body by permanently removing these fatty deposits.

If you are unhappy with your appearance after a diet and exercise regime has not led to the weight loss you want, it could offer you the solution to achieve the best results for you.

The operation involves inserting a thin metal tube into your body, attached to a strong vacuum pump, which removes fat.

Why you might need it

Liposuction is a way of getting rid of stubborn fat that will not go away despite your best efforts to improve your lifestyle through diet and exercise. It doesn't remove cellulite, stretch marks or loose skin but can be used to reduce male breasts (gynaecomastia) and excess fluid.

The most common benefits of liposuction include:

  • less body fat
  • better self-confidence and self-esteem
  • ability to wear clothes that were previously unsuitable
  • a feeling that your body is now in proportion.

It is not normally available on the NHS except when it is being performed as part of reconstructive surgery.

The operation usually takes from one to three hours and is carried out under general anaesthesia, so you will be asleep throughout.

Sometimes, you might have a local anaesthetic (where only one area of the body is numbed and you're awake) if the liposuction is performed on a very small area of the body. If the treatment is on the lower body, an epidural may be used.

Who will do it?

Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They’ll be with you every step of the way: from giving advice at your first consultation, through to offering ongoing support after your treatment. 

All of our surgeons are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well equipped hospitals. 

A cosmetic surgeon’s reputation, qualifications and experience are vitally important, so we only work with consultant grade specialists. These are highly experienced consultants who have completed years of medical training.

All our consultants are on the specialist register of the General Medical Council (GMC), and many are also members of the UK’s leading cosmetic and plastic surgery associations.

Before your treatment

Cosmetic surgery can be a life enhancing decision and we’re here to help you make the right one. Our experienced cosmetic surgeons will guide you through every step of the way.

It’s important to meet with your chosen consultant before treatment so that you are completely comfortable with them and they know what you want to achieve. It’s helpful to bring in some pictures and a friend or family member to your initial meeting to help articulate your thoughts. You should also ask to see some of the surgeon's recent before and after pictures of similar operations they've performed.

This is an important decision and we're here to listen and help you achieve your goals.

If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, we'll give you at least two weeks between consultation and operation date. This is because we want you to be really happy and confident with your decision.

Preparing for your treatment

We’ve tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible. 

For more information on visiting hours, our food, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information page.

You should have changed your diet and lifestyle to achieve your target weight before having liposuction.

For two weeks before the operation, you shouldn't take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs and if you are anaemic, you should take iron supplements. Your surgeon might also advise you to stop taking the contraceptive pill if you are due to have extensive liposuction. Your consultant will give you further, tailored advice to follow in the run-up to your procedure.

You will have an initial consultation with a cosmetic surgeon or cosmetic nurse to discuss what you want to achieve and whether liposuction is suitable.

 

The procedure

We understand that having surgery can often be a time of anxiety and worry, but our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.

There are two main types of liposuction techniques – wet and dry. Both are normally performed under general anaesthetic and your surgeon will agree which one is most suitable with you beforehand. If you are only having a small amount of fat removed, a local anaesthetic can be used instead.


Wet liposuction

  • Your surgeon will inject a fluid mixture made up of a salty solution, local anaesthetic and adrenaline to help reduce bleeding, bruising and swelling. It also makes it easier for the fat cells to be removed.
  • A small incision is made in your skin to allow a narrow metal tube (microcannula) to be inserted. This is attached to a strong vacuum pump that is drawn back and forth within the area of excess fat to remove it.
  • The cut is then closed with stitches. Several cuts may be made if you are having a large area treated. 

Dry liposuction

  • The dry liposuction method is similar but does not use an injection of fluid.
  • The process leaves your small blood vessels and nerves intact, although it can result in more bruising than wet liposuction.

After the fat has been sucked out, your surgeon will drain any excess fluid and blood using small tubes.

Aftercare

After your operation, the treated area will be bandaged and stitched and we will give you pain relief medication. You may need to wear elastic compression clothing and a compression bandage for the next two to three weeks to reduce swelling (only taken off to clean and shower).

You might need to stay in overnight if you have had a general anaesthetic.

After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you're ready to go home.


Pain relief

We'll give you pain relief medication immediately and when we discharge you, as this type of operation can result in discomfort and swelling for a few days. If you need them, continue taking painkillers as advised by the hospital. You might also be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.

You will be able to leave as soon as your condition is stable.

When we discharge you we'll talk to you about whether your stitches and dressings need to be removed and we'll make an appointment to see your consultant again before you leave the hospital.


Recovery time

Some of the side effects of liposuction are bruising, swelling and inflammation of the treated areas.

If you had a large area treated you should take about 10 days off work to recover and avoid strenuous activity for up to four weeks.

Any numbness that you might feel should go away in six to eight weeks. Continue to use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain from bruising or swelling.

At your follow-up appointment, your surgeon will advise you when you can resume your normal activities.


End result

It will take you around two weeks to recover from the operation and as much as six months to see noticeable results as the treated area settles down.


How your loved ones can help

Once you're ready to be discharged, you'll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home as you won't be able to drive. You should also ask them if they can run some light errands such as shopping for you as you won't be feeling up to it.


Looking after you

Even once you've left hospital, we're still here for you. Your consultant is likely to want to see you after your operation, a follow up appointment will be made for you before you leave the hospital.

On rare occasions, complications following liposuction can occur. The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.

If you have any questions or concerns, we're ready to help.

Why choose Spire?

We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.

How much does it cost?

A fixed price for this treatment may be available on enquiry and following an initial consultation.

You can trust Spire Tunbridge Wells Hospital to provide you with a single, fixed price (1) so there are no surprises. And, through our carefully chosen partner (2) you can even be considered for interest free finance.

We’re here to help you with making these important choices, so you’re then free to concentrate on your treatment and on getting back to being you.

(1) Important: Please read Spire’s terms and conditions for full details of what’s included and excluded in your fixed price* when paying for yourself.

(2) Zebra Finance Ltd trading as Zebra Health Finance , Lincoln House, Stephensons Way, Wyvern Business Park, Derby, DE21 6LY. 

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Important to note

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.