Is Liposuction Right For Me?

Expert advice on the pros and cons of body contouring.

Liposuction is rapidly growing in popularity as a way of dealing with areas of stubborn fat that don’t respond to diet and exercise. However, many women worry liposuction may not be safe or permanent, or that it will be painful.  

Mr Marc Pacifico - Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells - says, "In most cases, when performed by a qualified and experienced surgeon, liposuction is safe, with proper anaesthesia it should not be painful, and results are lasting. The majority of patients delighted with results.’ However, liposuction is not for everyone."

So here’s what you need to know about liposuction:

  • Fat is surprisingly light, so don’t expect major weight loss. Says Mr Pacifico, ‘even if you remove four litres of fat this only translates to around 3kg on the scales.".
  • Liposuction cannot turn a size 16 into a size 10. "I like the terms 'liposculpture' and 'body contouring'" says Mr Pacifico. "That’s because this procedure is best for targeting stubborn fat deposits in specific areas, such as saddlebags or back fat, to rebalance your shape, rather than shrinking you all over." 
  • Be patient. Results may take longer than you think to show. "Post procedure swelling means that I see patients up to five months later who say results have not met their expectations," says Mr Pacifico. "However, after nine months, they are delighted." You may also have extensive bruising for a few weeks afterwards. So don’t expect liposuction to make you look better in a bikini if your holiday is just weeks away. 
  • Your skin type can affect the result. "After liposuction, your skin needs to shrink to fit the area emptied of fat. If your skin has lost elasticity due to genetics, age or sun exposure, it may not be able to do this. An experienced, qualified surgeon will be able to advise you on your suitability," says Mr Pacifico.
  • Aftercare is very important. You’ll need to wear a compression garment to speed healing, help control swelling and improve the final result. This resembles a large, elastic bodysuit which may reach down your legs and up to the bust. The garment must be worn day and night for for up to six weeks. In summer, this can be hot and affect the type of clothes you can wear. 
  • You will have to take a break from work and the gym. You may need between one or two weeks off work after your operation. You can start exercising again after around a fortnight, but you’ll need to take it easy at first.
  • You should be at a healthy, stable weight before you have liposuction. If you are losing weight, you may not need liposuction. If you gain weight afterwards you may not see much of a result. 
  • Side effects of liposuction can include infection, bleeding, bruising, temporary lumpiness, and sometimes too little or too much fat may be removed, which may require further surgery. 
  • Liposuction is permanent, in the sense that the fat cells are removed permanently. If you regain weight after liposuction you are less likely to gain it in the treated areas. The downside is this could mean your body proportions change. For example, if you have liposuction on your lower abdomen then gain weight, your lower abdomen may stay slim while your upper abdomen becomes fatter. 
  • Forget the 'quick-fix' mindset. To maintain your result you need to commit to keeping your weight stable with sensible diet and regular exercise. 

Last updated Wednesday 4 October 2017

First published on Thursday 20 August 2015