Liposuction was reported as the 2nd most popular procedure in the US in 2019 as 270,670 procedures were performed. Even though the number of non-surgical fat removal procedures has been increasing, these tend to remove a much lower percentage of fat. Surgical liposuction has an 86% worth-it rating on RealSelf and can treat a wider range of areas and contour or shape an area with greater accuracy.
- What is Liposuction?
- Who is Generally a Good Candidate for Liposuction?
- Which Areas of the Body Can Be Treated with Liposuction?
- Facial Liposuction
- Upper Body Liposuction
- Lower Body Liposuction
- Liposuction Risks
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction patients tend to have concerns regarding areas of unwanted fat that, regardless of exercise and dieting, are extremely difficult to lose. Liposuction involves making incisions into the desired area so a cannula can be inserted to vacuum out areas of unwanted fat and change the contour of the area.
According to Healthline, the most common areas for liposuction are the abs, back, ‘love handles’, thighs, and arms. However, liposuction can be performed on any body area where the patient wishes to remove fat deposits.
Who is Generally a Good Candidate for Liposuction?
The ideal candidates for undertaking liposuction tend to be those who:
- Have good skin elasticity
- Have good muscle tone but have fat deposits which they cannot easily lose
- Are not overweight are within 30% of their ideal body weight
- Are in good general health
- Do not smoke
If you are considering liposuction and wish to discover whether you would be a suitable candidate, contact a Board-Certified Surgeon who can discuss your specific needs.
Which Areas of the Body Can Be Treated with Liposuction?
Liposuction can be used to remove fat deposits from any area of the face or body and can be divided into three main categories consisting of: facial liposuction, upper body liposuction, and lower-body liposuction.
Our faces are an integral part of our appearance, who we are, and how we feel about ourselves. Despite this, many of us have concerns over excess fat around our face or neck, so might be suitable candidates for facial liposuction. The three areas typically treated with liposuction are a patient’s chin, cheeks, or neck.
Patients seeking other facial treatments, such as Botox, Fillers, or a Facelift can view our Facial Surgeries page to learn more about the various facial procedures available.
Unwanted fat under the chin is a common complaint, even from those who are naturally slim or who have worked hard to lose weight since some fat deposits under the chin can resist diet and exercise. Chin liposuction reduces the patient’s chin size, so can transform their chin, jaw, or jawline. In addition to the general risks of liposuction listed below, a few unlikely risks, specific to chin liposuction, are the potential for facial numbness, nerve damage, or facial asymmetry.
Cheek liposuction patients tend to feel they had “chubby”, puffy, or asymmetrical cheeks that were unresponsive to diet or exercise. Cheek liposuction permanently removes these fat deposits from the patient’s face, which helps shape and contour their facial appearance. In addition to the general liposuction risks outlined below, swelling, soreness, and burning sometimes occur after cheek liposuction.
Neck Liposuction is one of the most popular liposuction procedures as it results in a more sculpted, youthful, and contoured neck or jawline. People between the ages of 20 and 50 are the most suitable candidates as the procedure removes fat and does not impact skin quality.
The procedure takes around 30 minutes and can be performed alongside other facial procedures, such as a facelift. As well as the general risks listed below, due to the fact the neck is close to critically important areas, there is a slight risk of the procedure affecting the nerves, blood vessels, or the trachea.
Upper Body Liposuction
The ideal body shape most men and women desire tends to be drastically different. Many women wish to have a slim waist compared to their chest to create an ‘hour-glass figure, while many men wish to slim down their entire upper body. Our upper body tends to be an area that easily acquires fat in unwanted areas such as rolls on the back, waist, or ‘love handles’. Many of us wish to remove the unwanted fat from these areas to achieve our ideal figure. Any specific area of the upper body such as the back, chest, or waist can be treated with liposuction to remove these fat deposits.
Those considering arm liposuction tend to complain of having large or sagging arms, often referred to as ‘bingo wings’. Arm liposuction can permanently reduce a patient’s arm size and create a more defined look, as long as a healthy weight is maintained. However, patients who have concerns over excess skin tend to be less suitable for this procedure and may benefit more from an Arm Lift.
Chest liposuction for men was reported as the 4th most common male plastic surgery procedure performed in the US in 2018. Many men have concerns over excess fat in their chest, called gynecomastia, and are referred to by many men as having ‘man boobs’. Excess fat can be the result of genetics, significant weight loss, or drug use. Chest liposuction immediately results in a smaller and more contoured chest area. For this procedure, the patient’s medical history must be reviewed, and an ultrasound scan performed to ensure they have no lumps or malignancies.
For women, chest liposuction is a common breast reduction procedure for those who struggle with chronic pain in the back, shoulders, and neck as a result of having large breasts. Doctor Puneetgupta explains that a suitable candidate will have a large proportion of fat in their breasts. She explains that the procedure can reduce a patient’s breast size by more than half and often lift the breasts, without affecting their shape.
The additional risks to those of liposuction in general, are bleeding inside the breast tissue, issues regarding nipple shape and sensation, and the potential of lumps, bruising or swelling to develop. Women should be particularly aware of these risks as they could prevent a woman from being able to breastfeed.
Upper or Lower Back Liposuction
Many men and women complain of excess fat accumulation across their back, which seems unresponsive to diet or exercise. For women, this can create concerns of having ‘back rolls’ or ‘bra strap fat’. The back is considered one of the best areas for liposuction and can result in a slimmer physique, meaning clothing can often fit better and confidence is enhanced.
The back can be divided into several areas for liposuction including areas of the upper back such as the ‘buffalo hump’ (behind the shoulder), the posterior axillary (the area around the bra strap), and areas of the lower back including the waist, ‘love handles’ and the lumbo-sacral fat pad. Back liposuction holds an increased risk of hyperpigmentation of the skin, leaving a permanent discoloration if too much fat is removed.
Waist liposuction is the most highly requested area for liposuction since many patients desire a slim waist. The waist is one of the hardest areas to lose stubborn fat from but liposuction can dramatically reduce a patient’s waist size by several centimeters, creating a slimmer and more contoured waistline.
Abdomen liposuction is a highly sought-after treatment as many people feel insecure about the excess weight around their stomach that is difficult to lose naturally. The procedure tends to create a flatter and more contoured or muscle-looking midsection. Healthline explains that ideal candidates are those who solely wish to have fat deposits removed. Other procedures, such as a tummy tuck, are more suitable for those with concerns over excessive skin.
Flanks or ‘love handles’ are the area between our ribs and hips, where many people have concerns over bulges or rolls of fat accumulating. Flank liposuction can create a slimmer shape, enhance your body’s contour, and be used as a preventative measure to keep this area slim.
The results can be less predictable for those who have lost significant amounts of weight, undergone bariatric surgery, or have excess skin/ poor skin elasticity. There may be an additional risk, to those generally listed below, for anyone who has undergone surgery near the flank area.
Lower Body Liposuction
Areas of the lower body often acquire fat deposits that are difficult to lose through diet or exercise. Therefore, many patients undergo liposuction to remove these excess fat deposits to reshape their legs, reduce their leg size or increase mobility. Patients seeking treatments that enhance their lower body, such as a Brazilian butt lift or Butt Implants, can view our pages to learn more.
Hip Liposuction is often requested to create a more desirable or proportionate body shape. Many patients have concerns over excessive fat on their hips due to genetics, pregnancy, or weight gain, which has become extremely difficult to lose. Hip liposuction can help patients lose inches, resulting in a slimmer figure that is more proportioned with the rest of their body. Some patients choose to have this fat injected elsewhere, typically into the buttock (BBL) or breasts (Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation), to add to their ideal body shape.
For those with concerns about having an overly large buttock, liposuction can reduce the size of the buttocks and make it more proportional to the rest of the body. The American Society of Plastic Surgery state the aim of the procedure as removing the right amount of fat so that enough is left to keep the natural contours of the body and avoid dimpling. Since, the procedure removes fat it has the opposite result of a Brazilian butt lift, where fat removed from other areas of the body is inserted into the buttock.
McIndoe reports an 82% increase in thigh surgeries performed from 2000 to 2017 as many women are dissatisfied with their thighs’ appearance or size. Some women have concerns over the pain and rashes which result from their thighs rubbing together. Thigh liposuction helps to reduce these health concerns as well as make the patient’s legs look slimmer, which indirectly makes the buttock look rounder and slimmer.
This procedure is often performed alongside other liposuction procedures, and the fat removed can be grafted into other areas. With this procedure there is an increased risk of clots occurring in the legs.
Excess fat around the knees, as a result of either genetics or weight gain, can create concerns regarding our leg’s appearance. Knee liposuction helps to enhance the appearance of the patient’s knees and legs by making them look slimmer and more contoured.
Many patients have aesthetic concerns over their calves looking large. Other patients have health concerns regarding the reduced movement in their legs due to fat deposits and swelling in their calves. Calf and ankle liposuction tend to have excellent results in reducing calf size, reshaping the lower leg, and reducing mobility issues.
According to Skin Medical, liposuction should not be performed on anyone with less than 8mm of fat in their calves since this could damage the blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatics. Lymphatic drainage is especially important following lower leg liposuction, meaning support garments and compression stockings are essential for reducing any liposuction risks.
Excess fat on the ankle is a major concern of many patients as they complain of having ‘cankles’ where they feel their ankles look disproportionate to the rest of their legs. Healthline states that genetics, fluid balance, and fat or muscle mass can all impact the size of our calves and for some people dieting and exercising has no impact. Ankle liposuction can drastically reduce ankle size and help to reshape the lower leg. For patients with lipedema, this can enhance their quality of life as the excess fat causes pain and reduces mobility. Liposuction risks are outlined below, but ankle surgery does increase the potential risk of a blood clot.
The risk of complications or issues proceeding a surgery tends to be very rare, but any questions or issues should be discussed with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. Potential risks include:
- Bruising, swelling, or fluid accumulation
- Loose skin
- Numbness, pain, or bleeding
- Nerve/ blood vessel damage
- Asymmetries, under or over the desired level of removal or worsening of cellulite
- Thermal burn or heat injury
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
Understanding the potential areas of the face and body where liposuction can be performed on is an essential first step in researching any liposuction procedure. More information regarding recovery from liposuction can be found in our blog ‘12 FAQs About Liposuction Aftercare.’
If you are considering any liposuction procedure the next step is to meet with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, with considerable expertise in various liposuction procedures, to help you learn more about the process, risks, and recovery.
Please note: All materials on the Site, such as text, treatments, outcomes, photographs and images and any other material provided on the Site are for information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding treatments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site.
Though the content of this blog has been carefully prepared, the author of this content is not a medical doctor and the content has not been reviewed by a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Unless specifically stated, patients referred to in this blog have not received liposuction from Dr. Liland. This blog does not endorse the work of any doctors or surgeons mentioned. Stories relating to patients’ personal experiences of liposuction procedures should be treated as anecdotal only.
Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and his, her, or their responsibility.