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Is Body Liposuction Safe?

If you’re thinking about getting body liposuction, you’re probably wondering whether it’s safe. Here’s everything you need to know about potential concerns.

We all want to look and feel our best. As we get older, it becomes harder to lose stubborn body fat no matter how much dieting and exercise we do.

It’s not surprising that body liposuction accounted for up to 304,850 of all plastic surgeries last year. This made it the second most common plastic surgery after breast augmentations.

Despite its popularity, there are things that every liposuction patient needs to know.

Is body liposuction safe? What can you expect before, during, and after your liposuction procedure?

If you’re thinking about getting liposuction, or are having your surgery soon, this article is for you!

How Body Liposuction Works

Before we can delve into how safe liposuction is, first, we need to understand how it works.

Liposuction works by removing excess fat from particular areas through suctioning. Many patients and doctors refer to these areas as “problem areas”. The most common of these areas include the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen.

Your plastic surgeon will mark these areas before treating them. They’ll then make the incision and insert a suction tube.

There are a few techniques that are most commonly used in body liposuction. We’ll outline them next.

Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction is the most common method. It involves injecting a large amount of solution known as a tumescent solution. It’s comprised of local anesthetic, epinephrine, and an intravenous salt combination.

The surgeon injects this fluid into the surrounding tissue of the treated area. During this process, the epinephrine makes the surrounding blood vessels constrict and shrink.

This tumescent solution not only numbs the treated area. Because it causes the blood vessels to constrict, less bleeding and bruising occurs. When this happens, the fat hardens, making it easier to remove, ultimately.

Powered Liposuction

Powered liposuction works similarly to tumescent liposuction. Surgeons will inject the treated area with the tumescent solution. Again, this solution acts as both an anesthetic and makes it easier to remove fat altogether.

Surgeons will then insert a thin tube, known as a cannula, into the incised area. This cannula then vibrates the surrounding fat, breaking up fat cells in the process.

Because the powered cannula breaks down more fat cells, it becomes faster to remove the fat.


SAFELipo is an up and coming form of body liposuction. It uses the same solution during tumescent liposuction. SAFELipo stands for separation, aspiration, and fat equalization.

During SAFELipo, surgeons separate fat using a large cannula tip. Then, surgeons insert a smaller cannula tip and suction out the unwanted fat. After removing the unwanted fat, a different cannula smoothes out the remaining fat.

The incisions made during SAFELipo are then closed up with small sutures. To decrease swelling, surgeons will compress the area with dressings and a foam pad. They’ll also apply a compression garment to improve circulation and body definition.

Ultrasound Liposuction

Ultrasound body liposuction is a form of liposuction that is growing more popular.

Many surgeons will begin the procedure by injecting the tumescent solution. The tumescent solution both prevents fluid loss and shrinks the fat deposits.

They’ll then use an ultrasound generator through a thin cannula. The cannula will break up and liquefy the unwanted fat. The high-pitched ultrasonic sound waves produced ultimately liquefies fat. When fat liquefies, it becomes easier to suction out.

Ultrasound liposuction commonly treats the chin, calves, ankles, knees, neck, and cheeks.

The Risks of Body Liposuction

Now that we understand common liposuction methods, we can explore their risks.

When consulting with any plastic surgeon, they should always go over the risks.

Serious Risks & Complications

Like any surgery, there is a risk of infection. The risks of infection range from non-life threatening to life-threatening.

Though rare, nerve damage can occur. This can result in numbness.

The tubing used in body liposuction can puncture nearby, internal organs. Though these rarely occur, they still pose risks.

There’s also the risk of fluid buildup which can range from moderate to severe. In severe cases, patients may need the excess fluid drained at their doctor’s or in a hospital.

Though rare, fat embolisms can also occur. These occur when fat enters the bloodstream and moves through the lungs and into the brain.

Common, Non-Life Threatening Complications

Swelling, bruising, and discomfort are common after having body liposuction. Your plastic surgeon should explain how to reduce swelling and bruising.

There’s also the risk of cellulite growth and persistent swelling. Again, your plastic surgeon will outline and explain these risks prior to surgery.

Next, we’ll go over other risks associated with common liposuction methods.

Risks of Tumescent Liposuction

Though tumescent liposuction is the most common method, there are still risks involved. These include skin lumpiness, loose skin, and scarring.

Luckily, scarring is easy to prevent with proper care and maintenance after surgery. The risk of lumpiness and loose skin is higher if you work with an unqualified plastic surgeon.

Risks of Powered Liposuction

Like tumescent liposuction, powered liposuction runs the risk of leaving lumpy, loose skin. Skin pigmentation changes can also occur with powered liposuction procedures.

It’s important for surgeons to remove all excess fluid and fat. Doing so will prevent embolisms and fluid buildup from occurring.

Risks of SAFELipo

Even though SAFELipo has shown to have better results and faster recovery, it still has risks.

Delayed scarring, asymmetry, and blood loss are some risks that SAFELipo carries. Though rare, seroma and embolisms are also possible.

Risks of Ultrasonic Liposuction

Because ultrasound technology involves heat, there is a risk of burning and blistering. As a result of burns and blisters, scarring can develop.

Seroma is also a risk. Seroma occurs when the body produces excess fluid to fill areas where fat was removed. This is why it’s important that surgeons use a syringe to remove excess fluid until the area closes.

Who Is Most At-Risk for Liposuction Complications?

Those with chronic health conditions may not be able to undergo body liposuction. People with diabetes, heart disease, and poor circulation are more likely to develop complications.

Those who drink and smoke frequently are also at higher risk of complications. Additionally, those with certain allergies are also at risk of having adverse reactions.

Be honest with your plastic surgeon about any known allergies you have. You should also be honest with them about how much and how often you smoke and drink.


Anesthesia administration is one of the biggest concerns that plastic surgery patients have. With body liposuction, there are two types of anesthesia your surgeon may administer:

  • Local anesthesia
  • General anesthesia

The type of anesthesia used will depend on how much fat you’ll remove through liposuction.

We previously discussed the tumescent solution, which is commonly used during most liposuction procedures. The tumescent solution not only makes fat removal easier but acts as an anesthetic.

When combined with local anesthesia, the tumescent solution can significantly reduce swelling. Because of this, many patients report having better results and faster recovery.

However, a combination of local anesthesia and the tumescent solution may not always suffice. Patients who undergo liposuction in multiple or large areas may receive general anesthesia. Surgeons will often supplement general anesthesia with I.V. sedation, as well.

Understanding Anesthesia Administration

Many patients fear the thought of “going under” with anesthesia. Although there are risks with anesthesia, it is generally very safe.

With major body liposuction, there may not be other alternatives to general anesthesia. That’s why it’s important to ask your plastic surgery about which type of anesthesia you’ll receive.

If there are options, you can explore them with your plastic surgeon. If an anesthesiologist will administer it themselves, meet them beforehand.

What will your plastic surgeon and/or anesthesiologist do during your liposuction procedure? Here are some of the things they’ll monitor to ensure your health and safety:

  • The volume of air entering and exiting your lungs
  • Your vitals (body temperature, pulse, respiration rate, blood pressure)
  • Your oxygen, carbon dioxide, and blood levels
  • Fluid loss
  • Brain activity

A person under anesthesia is unconscious. However, it’s important to remember that they aren’t dead.

There are, however, higher risks of death in patients who are older or are in poorer health. There are also higher risks for those with family histories of bad reactions to it.

Ultimately, it’s important to get a full evaluation from your plastic surgeon. That way, when you meet with your anesthesiologist, they’ll be able to decide the best course of action.

Body Liposuction Is Safe

It’s important to understand that liposuction is not a weight loss method. It’s a cosmetic procedure that changes the contour of a person’s body.

Liposuction is generally very safe, especially when:

  • Your plastic surgeon is board-certified
  • Your plastic surgeon has a lot of experience doing liposuction procedures
  • Your plastic surgeon is easy to talk to and gives great insight

You can make a good candidate for liposuction, or any cosmetic surgery when you’re at your healthiest. If you’ve already tried to lose weight, liposuction may be an option for you.

In general, liposuction is safe for non-smokers. It’s also safe for those who don’t have life-threatening diseases or conditions.

Discover If Body Liposuction Is Right for You

If you’ve struggled to lose stubborn body fat, you may have considered liposuction. This is a safe form of surgery that helps thousands of people achieve their best bodies.

Dr. John Bull is an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Bull performs a number of cosmetic surgery procedures. The procedures he performs include – but aren’t limited to – liposuction, botox, laser hair removal, and breast augmentation.

To learn more, contact the John Bull Center for Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Medispa today!

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