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What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess fat from specific areas of the body through a suction technique. It’s designed to sculpt and contour the body by targeting localized fat deposits that are resistant to diet and exercise.

Liposuction is not a weight-loss method – it’s a way to enhance body proportions and create a more defined silhouette. The procedure typically involves a thin tube called a cannula, which is inserted through small incisions in the skin to remove the unwanted fat. Combined with appropriate diet and exercise, it may improve contour.

Leading the Way in Liposuction Surgery

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, some of the nation’s best plastic surgeons offer body contouring via a wide array of liposuction techniques, such as traditional, ultrasonic, power-assisted, and laser liposuction.

Our plastic surgeons are at the forefront of providing the newest techniques for liposuction that are both safe and effective. Because of their ongoing commitment to medical research, including investigating new technology before it’s available to the general public, our physicians are able to provide a comprehensive range of leading-edge solutions to meet patients’ objectives.

UT Southwestern's Approach to Liposuction Surgery

Considered by some to be just a “procedure,” liposuction is real surgery. As such, it can be routinely performed in an extremely safe and supportive environment in which our plastic surgeons ensure that the safety of each patient is at the forefront.

Often during liposuction, our plastic surgeons use small incisions to remove excessive fat, helping achieve aesthetically pleasing contours. We can target most areas such as the breasts, arms, abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, legs, neck, and chin. Our surgeons work with each patient to optimize both the immediate and long-term results of this procedure. 

Our team of plastic surgeons is internationally recognized for delivering outstanding clinical care and conducting groundbreaking research. Our faculty have written and published extensively about many forms of liposuction and body contouring.

Liposuction Techniques

Liposuction techniques available from UT Southwestern include:

  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): A cannula-like device that delivers sound waves to targeted areas. The energy from this device helps break the walls of the fat cells, which are then suctioned from the body. This technique was among one of the early but critical advancements in the field of liposuction.
  • Traditional liposuction (or suction-assisted liposuction/SAL): Mechanical disruptions and suction is used in conjunction with a vacuum-like cannula to remove fat.
  • Power-assisted liposuction devices: Using special cannulas that produce minute amounts of fat-breaking energy, surgeons remove fat cells more efficiently, leading to shorter, safer surgery. 
  • Laser liposuction: A cosmetic procedure that uses heat to liquefy fat before its removal from the body, aiming to reduce fat in targeted areas.

Liposuction: What to Expect

Before having liposuction, our plastic surgeons talk with patients to help set realistic goals and expectations about what liposuction can achieve. 

Liposuction is not a cure for cellulite. It can, however, smooth fat in targeted areas. Liposuction is also not a treatment for obesity or excess weight, and it’s important to be within a healthy weight range. Typically, patients are within 15 to 20 pounds of their targeted healthy body weight and have good skin tone. 

The surgical procedure generally takes one to several hours to perform and is often an outpatient procedure. More extensive liposuction procedures or those combined with excisional surgery (such as a tummy tuck) will require an overnight stay. Liposuction can be combined with other surgeries and treatment, such as mommy makeovers and body-contouring procedures such as arm-lifts (brachioplasty), thigh-lifts (thighplasty), and abdominoplasty (tummy tucks).