Liposuction is a popular vacuum pump technique for getting rid of excess body fat and can help improve your body shape when diet and exercise have failed.
For men it is commonly used to permanently remove fatty deposits around the stomach, chest and chin.
Don’t think of liposuction as a treatment for obesity or being overweight. It is a way of getting rid of stubborn fat that will not go despite your efforts to improve your lifestyle.
It will not remove cellulite or loose skin but can be used to reduce male breasts (gynaecomastia) and excess fluid. (source: NHS Choices)
This procedure is not normally available on the NHS except when it is being performed as part of reconstructive surgery. So if your attempts to shift weight by changing your lifestyle have failed, liposuction with Spire could help.
The operation usually takes from 1 to 3 hours and is carried out under general anaesthesia so you will be asleep throughout. If the treatment is on the lower body, an epidural anaesthetic may be used.
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.
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.
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 on-going support after your surgery.
All of our cosmetic 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.
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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, but you should have changed your diet and lifestyle to lose some weight before we will consider whether liposuction is a good option for you.
You should not take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs for two weeks before the operation. If you are anaemic, you should take iron supplements. You should also stop smoking.
Two main liposuction techniques exist – wet and dry. Both are normally performed under general anaesthetic. However, if you are only having a small amount of fat removed, a local anaesthetic can be used instead.
Liposuction can be carried out as a single procedure, or in conjunction with another cosmetic procedure. When carried out as a stand-alone procedure, we have limits on the volume of fat and fluid that can be removed, depending on the facilities at your hospital – your surgeon can confirm this. We have an absolute limit of 5 litres of aspirate, only to be removed in centres where we have high dependency or intensive care facilities.
Where liposuction is performed in conjunction with any other cosmetic procedure, our policy is that we will remove no more than a maximum of 2000ml of aspirate (fat and fluid) from all areas combined. With the Fleur-de-Lys abdominoplasty (where a vertical as well as a horizontal incision is made), no liposuction can be performed.
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 the area you are having treated is large.
The dry liposuction method is similar but does not use an injection of fluid. Dry liposuction can result in more bruising after the operation. Your surgeon will discuss the best option for your needs.
The process removes fat but leaves your small blood vessels and nerves intact.
After the fat has been sucked out, your surgeon will drain any excess fluid and blood using small tubes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.