10 Important Things to Know About Liposuction

According to the most recent survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), liposuction was the 4th most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States in 2020. At 211,000 procedures performed, it was slightly ahead of breast augmentation but trailing nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, and facelifts. All this to say that liposuction continues to be immensely popular. This speaks to its ability to provide good results for patients seeking effective belly fat (and other fat) removal. As a leading liposuction provider in Tennessee for over 10 years, our plastic surgery team at NuBody Concepts has created answers to the list of common liposuction questions below.

1. How Much Weight Can You Lose With Liposuction?

It is important to know that liposuction is not considered a weight loss program. It is a body contouring procedure that breaks down and removes fat cells in areas where pesky fat deposits are hard to get rid of. This includes the belly/abdomen, thighs, arms, and even the neck. While you may weigh a little less after your lipo procedure due to the weight of the fat removed from your body, this is not the main objective. The main objective is to contour your body to achieve your aesthetic goals.

You can use liposuction on areas large and small. The most popular one is the abdomen to reduce belly fat, but liposuction can also effectively be used on the upper arms to reduce arm flab, on the thighs, on the flanks and bra rolls, and even on the chin and neck.

If you are interested in weight loss rather than body contouring, the Orbera gastric balloon would be a better option for you.

2. How Much Does it Cost to Liposuction Your Stomach?

At NuBody Concepts Nashville and Memphis, liposuction starts at $3,600 for one treatment area (see lipo cost chart for more areas). This cost is all-inclusive, meaning there are no hidden fees added on to your procedure. Anesthesia, surgeon fees, facility cost – all is included in your quoted price. Several areas can be added together for one procedure – see our liposuction cost page for a detailed price schedule by number of areas.

Depending on volume, your stomach could count as several areas, i.e. upper abdomen vs lower abdomen. The flanks or back would be a separate area as well, so for a Lipo 360 (all the way around the waist) procedure, you may need anywhere from 2-4 areas. The best way to find out how much it costs to liposuction your stomach, or another area, is to schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis.

3. Does the Fat Return After Liposuction?

The simple answer is no – the fat does not return after liposuction. But this needs context. The fat cells that are targeted by liposuction and then suctioned off do in fact not return. You can physically see them leave your body, which is why liposuction is such an effective method to remove fat. This differentiates it from non-invasive treatments like CoolSculpting, where the fat is meant to leave over a period of time via your bodily functions.

With liposuction, the fat is gone, and it is gone immediately after you’ve had your procedure! You’ll have to factor in a few weeks for the post-op swelling to subside, and you will see the difference. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re now home free going forward. New fat cells can form if you don’t maintain your weight and figure with a healthy diet and regular exercise. See our tips for how to maintain your liposuction results for more information.

4. Are You Awake During Liposuction?

As with all minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures, the patient is typically awake during liposuction. On the day of your procedure, the surgeon numbs the area prior to inserting a thin wand under the skin, then through this wand injects a saline based solution containing lidocaine. This numbs everything prior to breaking up and flushing out the fat cells.

In some cases where larger patients have multiple areas treated at once, the surgeon may offer the option of additional IV sedation. This is something you should discuss with your plastic surgeon. You do not need general anesthesia for a liposuction procedure, and it can be performed in an outpatient setting where you are able to go home (in the care of a driver) after the procedure.

5. Can Liposuction Get Rid of Belly Fat?

Yes, liposuction is one of the best methods to get rid of belly fat. It can remove fat in many other areas of the body too, but the belly – lower and upper abdomen as well as flanks, to be precise – is one of the most popular areas for liposuction, and one where you will most easily see the results. Liposuction can also be combined with tissue contracture, more commonly known as skin tightening (BodyTite or Renuvion), so that you don’t only lose the fat but also end up with good looking, taut skin that will make your body bikini worthy for sure.

For patients with a lot of excess, sagging skin – as can happen after extreme weight loss, after pregnancy and childbirth, or simply due to aging – liposuction may not be enough to achieve the desired results. In that case a tummy tuck will almost certainly be the better option for a flat stomach with taut skin. Tummy tucks are more invasive with a longer recovery, but are highly recommended when liposuction alone cannot achieve the desired result. Learn more about liposuction vs tummy tuck here.

6. Does Lipo Leave Scars?

Liposuction is a minimally-invasive cosmetic surgery procedure that does not require cutting of skin and hence no sutures; there is nothing to heal that could form a scar. The surgeon will need to make a few strategically-placed incisions to insert the thin wand (called a cannula) that goes under the skin to destroy the fat cells that are then flushed/sucked out. However, these incisions are so minuscule that they generally do not form any scars. Some surgeons place a small stitch and some leave them be, and in either instance they typically close within a few days and fade to be indistinguishable after a few weeks to months.

If you want to avoid the type of visible scar you’d get from a tummy tuck, liposuction (especially when combined with radio frequency assisted lipolysis, more commonly known as skin tightening) is a great way to achieve a flat belly.

7. Is Liposuction Painful?

We mentioned earlier that you are typically awake during liposuction. Some people assume that it would be better to be asleep so as not to feel anything. However, heavy sedation or general anesthesia have other downsides. You typically need longer to fully recover, there are additional risk factors to consider – especially for patients with medical conditions – and it is simply more expensive. When it’s not needed, it is better to avoid heavier types of sedation.

Liposuction is not typically painful. The local anesthetic that is used to prepare the areas before the fat is suctioned off does a good job of numbing any pain or discomfort. Depending on your pain tolerance, or if you are having multiple areas treated in a longer procedure, your surgeon may want to supplement some light IV sedation. This is something you should discuss during your personal consultation.

8. Am I a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

The best way to find out if you qualify for liposuction is to meet with a plastic surgeon to assess your body type and aesthetic goals. As a general rule of thumb, you should be within 30% of your ideal weight and in generally good health. You should be medically cleared for surgery, and you should also be a non-smoker. Smokers are advised to stop smoking for a period of time before undergoing surgery.

In addition, you should also have a BMI of 30 or below. Higher BMI’s do not tend to get good results with liposuction alone. Your results will also depend on your skin elasticity and other factors, but the BMI is a good approximation to see if you are a candidate or not. Patients with BMIs higher than 30 have other options for fat removal and/or weight loss, including tummy tucks and gastric balloons. Please use our free BMI calculator to determine if you qualify for liposuction.

9. How Soon After Lipo Will I See Results?

As mentioned before, liposuction yields immediate results, meaning the fat is gone right after your procedure – no repeat treatments needed. However, this doesn’t mean that you will look your best the minute you step out of the clinic. Even though it’s only minimally-invasive, liposuction is a surgical procedure and as such causes some bruising and swelling in the affected areas.

You can expect for your bruising and swelling to subside within 2-3 weeks. For some patients this may take longer, and some may be back to normal within a week. Most surgeons will schedule a follow-up visit at around the 6-week mark, by which time you should see your best results. Please note that if you combine liposuction with Renuvion, your results will continue to improve for 6-9 months. If you combine it with BodyTite, your results may continue to improve for as much as a year post-op.

10. How Long Does Lipo Last?

The aging process continually alters our appearance, meaning nothing about the human body is ever permanent. With this in mind, liposuction achieves results as near-permanent as you can get. When a patient has liposuction, the surgeon uses a special wand that attacks the fat cells under the skin. It breaks up the underlying tissues and flushes out the fat from the treated area – such as belly, flanks, thighs, arms, even the chin and neck. As we’ve already discussed earlier, these fat cells, once removed, will never come back!

It is of course possible to accumulate new fat cells with a poor diet and a lack of exercise. But most patients, once they see their new body contours, are highly motivated to adopt a healthy exercise and diet regime that will ensure that their results remain permanent.

We hope that we’ve answered some of your pressing questions about liposuction and look forward to the opportunity to help you achieve the body contours you strive for. To talk to a NuBody Concepts board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis, simply choose a date on either calendar below for your appointment!

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