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Liposuction removes excess fatty tissue, restoring more proportional body shape and curves. For many people, all the exercising and dieting in the world can't get rid of the extra bulges caused by a lifetime of weight fluctuations, pregnancy or genetic factors.

The body changes greatly when a woman experiences pregnancy, which can cause deposition of fat cells in all the wrong places. But liposuction is not only for women; the procedure can reduce excess fat in any healthy adult.

Deciding if You Are Right for Liposuction

Liposuction is safer and more effective than ever. Plastic surgeons now target large and/or very localized treatment areas with more precision and less trauma. Patients who are within 30 percent of their ideal body weight and have shape issues see excellent results with liposuction. The results include slimmer contours with better overall body proportion. Although many people have liposuction, it is important to remember that liposuction is a major surgery.

Any doctor, regardless of their specialty, training or surgical prowess can purchase liposuction equipment and perform this procedure. Above all else, protect your body and your life by choosing a board certified plastic surgeon for all forms of liposuction of the face and body. A specialty trained board certified dermatologist may be considered for limited localized regions, however, they may not be able to care for complications that could arise from liposuction.

Liposuction is not a weight loss procedure. A good candidate should be within 25-30 percent of their ideal body weight, in good health and physically active with good elastic skin tone. The ideal candidate also should be stable with their weight over the last year or two. Liposuction will treat those stubborn areas that that just won't go away despite maintaining your weight, dieting, exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. All the personal training in the world will probably never remove these areas.

If you are overweight and find you cannot stick to a diet or exercise program and see liposuction as a cure to your obesity, liposuction is not for you. Once your bulges are removed, it is essential that you have good skin tone. Skin that lacks elasticity will sag and form irregular contours which are difficult to correct. Good skin tone is a product of good skin care, protection from excessive sun damage and moderation in drinking. It is not necessarily a function of age, but there is a large hereditary component.

How It's Done

The technical name is suction-assisted lipectomy, and it involves the use of a thin, hollow instrument called a cannula. Liposuction cannulas typically vary in size from two mm to six or eight mm in diameter. The smaller the cannula, the finer the area that can be treated. This cannula is inserted through a very small, well hidden incision and attached to a suction machine that literally vacuums out the excessive fatty tissue.

Sculpting your new shape using liposuction can take from one hour for a small area or up to six hours for multiple larger areas. Once the suctioning is completed, a compression garment is immediately applied in the operating room to help the skin conform to its new contour. After liposuction you can expect to be up and walking right away. Good, constant circulation is essential for the prevention and formation of blood clots and to promote good healthy healing.

Specific Liposuction Techniques

Everyone infuses the areas to be suctioned with sterile saline along with local anesthetic for comfort and epinephrine to construct the blood vessels and reduce bleeding and bruising. There are many names for this technique: wet or super wet technique or tumescence. Tumescence helps to plump the fat cells for safer suctioning, generally allows for smaller incisions, calls for the use of less sedation and may reduce recovery time, discomfort, swelling, bruising and the risk of postoperative bleeding.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction

The high frequency energy from an ultrasound cannula emits energy that ruptures fat cells and dislodges them prior to suctioning. It can also break up scar tissue that is formed from previous liposuction. Ultrasound assisted liposuction is very useful for areas with more fibrous or dense fatty tissue, such as the back, upper abdomen or male chest region.

It is also very useful for secondary liposuction where fat tends to be denser and is within scar tissue that formed from the previous liposuction. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction carries a small added risk of seroma, excess fluid collection, and incorrect use of any ultrasonic energy can cause burns. Ultrasonic- assisted liposuction is usually not advised on the face, neck, upper arm or inner thigh.

Power-assisted liposuction

Power-assisted liposuction uses special equipment that causes the liposuction cannula to move back and forth thereby lessening the doctor's physical work during liposuction. Using this device, however, does not enhance the surgical outcome.


Liposuction causes minimal to moderate discomfort. This discomfort is usually well controlled by pain medications. Patients experience most of their discomfort when they are changing positions during the first three to four days. When the patient is sitting, lying down or standing and walking there is usually a minimal amount of discomfort.

Getting up and sitting down, however, will be a little more uncomfortable. After surgery there is swelling or edema. Usually the first day after surgery the face, hands and feet are swollen. This edema usually starts to resolve within 3-5 days. A compression garment is worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first six weeks after surgery. Patients usually return to work about five days after surgery, however this depends on the amount and areas liposuctioned.

What to Expect After Liposuction

Although some people see immediate results following liposuction, most of the results start to appear more gradually as swelling and bruising subside over the first 3-6 weeks. Your shape will continue to improve over the next six months to a year. During this time, safeguard your results with a healthy, active lifestyle, diet and exercise. Limit sun exposure and alcohol consumption. Maintaining these essentials will keep your new shape for years to come.

Immediately after surgery there is a generalized ache or soreness. As the numbing medicine from the tumescence wears off, the discomfort will increase somewhat. Pain medications at this time will help dramatically. There is swelling of the hands, face, feet, and arms. This can continue to increase for the first three days after surgery and then resolves very quickly. Keeping your feet elevated decreases the swelling in your feet. Staying active decreases your chances of complications and helps stimulate circulation and resolve the edema quicker.

Although some patients see immediate results, because of the swelling that is associated with surgery, the results usually gradually start to appear over the first three weeks and by six weeks to three months after surgery, the contours are looking great.


As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with liposuction. Absolutely following your postoperative instructions and returning for postoperative care will minimize your risks. Please see informed consent/liposuction for a complete list of possible risks.

Liposuction Recovery Timeline

  • First day moderately uncomfortable, especially when changing positions.
  • Day 2-3, tenderness rapidly resolves. Move around the house without difficulty and able to take care of self.
  • Within five days, patients usually return to work although no strenuous work or activity is allowed.
  • Within two weeks, if everything is healing nicely, patients can return to full strenuous activity and exercise.
  • Over your lifetime, continue with diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle.
  • Resume normal activity after 4-6 weeks.

Learn More About Liposuction in Atlanta

Learn more about liposuction in Atlanta by contacting the office of double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alan N. Larsen. Our plastic surgery office is located in the Buckhead area of North Atlanta. Call (404) 367‐9005 to inquire about a consultation.