This procedure removes unwanted pockets of fat from under your skin in specific parts of the body such as the chin, neck, upper arms, stomach (abdomen), hips and thighs, inner knees and calves/ankles. Liposuction should not be regarded as a means of general weight loss, but instead as a way to improve the shape of particular areas of your body.
A small cut (incision) is made, through which a narrow, hollow tube (cannula) is inserted. The tube is moved around to loosen the fat cells, which are then sucked out with a vacuum device. During the procedure you will lose a lot of fluid, so you will be given intravenous (injected straight into the vein) fluid to stop you becoming dehydrated. The procedure usually takes 1-3 hours. Small areas are treated under local anaesthetic (the area being treated is numb but you are awake). Big areas like the whole abdomen are done under general anaesthetic taking 1.5 to 2 hours. You will probably be able to go home the same day after a small area but an overnight stay in hospital is best after doing large areas. This is to ensure you get plenty of intravenous fluids and the appropriate antibiotics and painkillers.
The area treated will be swollen and bruised after the surgery and you may need to take pain relief medication for several days. You will need an elastic dressing or support garment (we tell you where to get this) that you may have to wear continuously for up to 6 weeks. You will probably be able to return to work after 1-2 weeks. Liposuction takes out cores of fat by tunnelling but leaves the fascia, nerves and blood vessels behind. Some bruising occurs and you will have a variable amount of prickly 'pins and needles' effect for some months after surgery. There may be patches of numbness and patches of increased sensitivity. This 'dysaesthesia' may last for 6-9 months or more but usually resolves in 3-6 months.

This page was last updated at 3:28PM on July 23, 2021.