Dr Shagun Aggarwal - Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction: Your 8 Most Common Questions Answered

Liposuction is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure at Mode Plastic Surgery – sometimes performed alone, or often in conjunction or as an adjunct to another procedure. It is a safe and reliable procedure that aims to remove fat deposits that are difficult to shift with diet and exercise. Like any surgery, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible so that you can, with as much certainty as possible, understand what you are walking into. 

Dr Aggarwal will always ensure that he answers your questions during consultations, as well as make sure that your expectations of the surgery and the process are realistic. In order to help you in your decision making process, we thought it best to go through some common questions on the topic.

Am I a good candidate for liposuction?

Liposuction is an excellent procedure to remove stubborn areas of fat that are difficult to shift through diet and exercise. The patient must also be of excellent health (who maintains a healthy diet and regime of exercise), has realistic expectations and does not have significant other medical conditions (such as heart disease, being on blood thinners, breathing issues, and so on).

Liposuction however is not appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • There is both excess skin and fat e.g. some patients requesting this for their abdomen actually need a tummy tuck that removes both skin and fat. If extra skin is present liposuction will remove the fat, and create even more loose skin, probably worsening the appearance.
  • Cellulite – liposuction can reduce circumference of the thighs, but as a standalone treatment for cellulite it is not great as it can worsen the appearance
  • Patient is significantly overweight, or someone who does not maintain a healthy diet/exercise – liposuction should not be seen as a quick fix. Firstly it can only target certain areas (whereas healthy eating and exercise achieves a more global reduction in weight), and the weight can simply rebound after liposuction.
  • Patient has unrealistic expectations
  • Patients who have lots of other medical problems such as heart, lung disease, diabetes, or other conditions that make them unsuitable for elective surgery.

What Should I Know Beforehand?

In order to prepare for liposuction it’s important to:

  • Cease fish oil, and other supplements such as Ginkgo, Ginseng etc. 
  • Discuss with Dr Aggarwal if you are on blood thinning medications as to when you should stop and recommence those.
  • If you are smoking you need to cease this well in advance of surgery

What does liposuction involve? 

Liposuction is typically performed under general anaesthesia, given by an accredited anaesthetist in a fully accredited and licensed facility (usually one of the North Shore’s premier private hospitals). It can take from one to three hours, and patients will be discharged either the same day or stay overnight.

Before liposuction is performed, the area is infiltrated with a solution containing local anaesthetic and adrenaline – this increases the safety of liposuction by significantly reducing bleeding.

Liposuction is then performed using a variety of liposuction cannulas and the end point is the desired contour. We record the amount of infiltration and the amount of deposit that have been removed. Patients who have more than 5L removed during liposuction will need to stay in hospital. This is because there is good evidence that fluids can shift around the body after large volume liposuction, and monitoring you in the hospitals is the safest option.

It is however common to have some fluid leak through the closed liposuction incision sites – this is usually remnants of the liposuction infiltration fluid injected at the start of the procedure. Other than being a nuisance it does not do any harm.

What do I need to do after my liposuction procedure?

Dr Aggarwal will place waterproof dressings over the incisions. You will also be placed in a liposuction garment at the end of the procedure before you wake up. This helps to reduce swelling, pain and discomfort in the early post-operative period as the area heals. This garment needs to be worn for approximately 6-8 weeks. 

You will be given a script for antibiotics by Dr Aggarwal which you must continue until the box runs out. You will also be given pain relief medications, although most patients only report minor amounts of postoperative pain that is responsive to simple oral analgesia. 

You should not drive for at least 24 hours after having an anaesthetic, so you will not be allowed to go back home on your own – you must have someone accompany you home, and it is best to have someone look after you for the first few days as you recover. You will be given instructions how to look after the wounds as they continue to heal, and you will be able to ask questions about what you can and cannot do.

How painful is liposuction?

While liposuction does not involve large incisions, it can be sore. This is because the cannula used to remove the fat is creating a zone of injury under the skin, that the body then needs to heal.

It is common to get extensive bruising and swelling (which is the zone that is sore after surgery) and it is for this reason that compressive liposuction garments are used for 6-8 weeks after surgery as they minimise bruising and swelling and therefore comfort after surgery.

Depending on the extent of surgery, and also where it is being performed, patients will need around 1 to 2 weeks off after surgery.

How long does it take to recover after a liposuction procedure? 

The bruising and swelling after liposuction is worst at day 2-3, and subsides rapidly over the first 2 to 3 weeks, but takes 6-8 weeks to completely disappear. Patients have to wear a compressive garments for 6-8 weeks. It is best to be off work for the first 1 to 2 weeks depending on the extent of surgery.

The small incisions heal over 2 weeks, and patients are not allowed to swim in these first 2 weeks. Gym exercise can be resumed at around 6 weeks.

Are the results of liposuction permanent?

Yes, provided the patient is selected carefully – meaning if it is performed for stubborn fat areas in a person who exercises regularly and maintains a healthy diet then it is permanent.

However if it is used as a quick fix, or someone does not maintain their healthy diet and exercise they can certainly put the weight and volume back on negating the effects of liposuction.

What does liposuction cost (Sydney)?

As a rule of thumb around $4000 per treatment area (at Jan 2021) which usually includes surgeon fee, anaesthetist and hospital, plus GST. However hospital and theater fees are subject to change.