What Is Liposculpture?

Liposculpture is an invasive procedure used to create desired body contour by removing areas of excess fat. Common treatment locations include the abs, love handles, thighs, arms, back, and underneath the chin. Though it’s often thought of as a weight loss solution, liposculpture is not intended to treat this problem. Instead, it’s meant to address pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.

In some cases, liposculpture can be used to jumpstart a weight loss program, but patients should not expect to lose more than five to ten pounds from the treatment. The procedure is also not effective for cellulite, stretch marks, or sagging skin.

Is Liposculpture Right for Me?

The best candidates for liposculpture are men and women who are close to their ideal weight, but still have unwanted bulges of fat. Although liposculpture can improve body contour at any weight, those with a BMI over 30 are typically not good candidates for the treatment.

While there are no definitive restrictions for who can and can’t undergo liposculpture, it’s important to consider your skin’s elasticity. In general, younger non-smokers with minimal sun damage and darker skin tones have the best elasticity. As we age, our skin loses its ability to bounce back after being stretched, so older patients or those removing a large amount of fat could be left with sagging skin following the procedure.

How Does Liposculpture Work?

Almost all liposculpture procedures use what’s called a tumescent technique to minimize bruising and blood loss. First, a diluted fluid of local anesthetic and epinephrine (capillary constrictor) is injected into the fat being treated. Thin metallic tubes called cannulas are then inserted into the body through tiny incisions in the skin. Using the cannula, the surgeon makes controlled motions to dislodge the fat, which is suctioned out with a surgical vacuum or syringe.

Small areas of liposculpture are often done using local anesthesia, with or without oral sedation. Larger areas are typically performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure rarely requires an overnight stay at a hospital, unless a large amount of fat is being removed.

What Are the Different Types of Liposculpture?

Many different techniques can be used during a tumescent liposculpture procedure. Each comes with its own benefits and risks.

  • Power-assisted liposculpture (PAL) uses the same technique as tumescent, with the addition of a vibrating tool that speeds up the breakdown of fat and allows it to be removed more easily in dense areas like the back and upper abdomen.
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposculpture (UAL) transmits ultrasonic energy through a handpiece, which loosens and melts the fat, making it easier to remove larger volumes or dense fat through the cannula. It takes longer to perform liposculpture using this technique, as the fat still needs to be removed with a cannula after it’s been melted.
  • Vaser liposculpture is a variation of UAL in which a grooved cannula evenly disperses the energy, improving the breakdown and removal of fat.
  • Laser-assisted liposculpture (LAL) works much like UAL but uses low-energy waves to liquefy fat, which is then removed through the cannula. In areas with very thin layers of fat, like the face and neck, the cannula might not be used at all. In these cases, the liquefied fat cells will be absorbed by the body.

How Much Does Liposculpture Cost?

The average cost of liposculpture ranges anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on factors like the number of areas being treated and the geographical location where the procedure is performed.

What Is Liposculpture Recovery Like?

The results of liposculpture typically come in stages, varying by individual. You’ll likely see some results immediately after surgery, but swelling and bruising are normal and take weeks to resolve. Most people see final results six months after surgery, but you may continue to see improvements for up to a year.

Most doctors recommend taking at a week off from work and your regular routine. (Those who undergo a small amount of liposculpture may only need a few days.) In order to prevent blood clots and discourage swelling, light walking is usually recommended starting the day of surgery. Heavy exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for two to three weeks.

The use of a compression garment is often recommended for anywhere from three to six weeks. These garments are beneficial for decreasing the amount of bruising and swelling, and helping loose skin to retract.