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If you have exercised, and/or dieted and still cannot shift those extra pounds then liposuction may be the answer to weight loss.  Liposuction or suction assisted lipectomy is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed and involves the removal of localised or generalised unwanted pockets of fat from under the skin to improve the contour of the face, trunk or limbs.

The aim

Liposuction is not a substitute for weight loss and the visible benefit will depend on the quality and tone of the overlying skin.  However, it can help with those stubborn ‘’difficult to shift’’ areas such as the hips, inner thighs and around the knees. 

The operation

Liposuction takes between 30 minutes and two hours depending on the area treated and is usually carried out under general anaesthetic.

The treatment area is first injected with fluid to minimise post-operative bruising.  The fat cells are then disrupted mechanically or liquefied with ultrasound, before the fat is sucked out via hollow cannulas.  These are inserted through small incisions placed discretely in natural skin creases.  At the end of the procedure these incisions will be closed with dissolvable sutures and covered in tape.


Any planned weight loss should occur before surgery to ensure the best cosmetic results.  Medication that may increase postoperative bleeding such as Aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Voltarol or Ibuprofen should be avoided for four weeks before surgery.  Smoking is not advised before liposuction and you should make every attempt to stop at least four weeks before surgery to minimise the risk of wound healing problems.


The treated area will be bruised and swollen and sensation over the skin may be reduced.

You will be given a corset or a support garment to wear to minimise swelling.  This garment will need to be worn for about six weeks.

You may need two or three days off work after surgery, but you should be able to return to normal activities after about a week.  Sports and swimming can be resumed after about four weeks.

Common risks

Liposuction can result in quite marked bruising and swelling but this usually settles after about four weeks.  Altered and reduced sensation over the treated area is common but usually returns completely within four months.

There is a possibility that the procedure can result in minor contour irregularities of the skin and occasional puckering.

Other risks include infection, bleeding and thickened scarring at the cannula insertion points.

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