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What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure to remove areas of fat by suction through keyhole incisions. Changes in weight are due primarily (except with very large gains in weight) to an increase or decrease in the size of fat cells, rather than changes in the number of fat cells. Liposuction acts by breaking down, then reducing the number of fat cells. Therefore it is very good at altering the distribution of fat at specific sites of the body, but the remaining fat will still be prone to change (weight gain). After liposuction the elasticity in healthy skin will allow it to take up its new shape.

The benefits of liposuction will be maintained as long there is not general weight gain following the operation. If weight is put on, fat will be deposited in other areas of the body. A sensible diet and exercise will help to sustain its benefits.

Why have it?

Liposuction (or liposculpture) is now one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed. It used to remove unsightly, stubborn areas of fat that fail to be removed through exercise or diet, thus reshaping the body. It is not designed as a treatment for obesity in general, but is very successful removing fat from areas of the body such as the upper arms, abdomen, buttock, thighs, calves, chin and neck. It is used in men and women alike, to reshape a disproportionate figure, and is now widely used to treat the condition of male gynaecomastia (noticeable breasts).

Reasons not to have it

Liposuction is used primarily to reshape the body, with the ideal candidates being at or near their target weight. It is not in itself a procedure to lose weight, but is often used to complement other surgical procedures. There are physiological limits to how much fat can removed with liposuction. A thorough clinical assessment will be performed including the BMI (body mass index) as an indicator. Liposuction is also reliant on good skin tone for the body to take up the new shape effectively.

For those seeking a large reduction in weight, rather than planning for immediate liposuction, advice on diet and exercise may be given, or if applicable, referral for weight loss surgery.

Smoking can increase the incidence of complications from surgery. It may be wise to delay surgery until smoking is stopped or cut down. Aspirin increases the risk of bleeding by preventing blood from clotting. If you are taking aspirin, you will be asked to stop this for at least ten days before the procedure.

Further information


Mr Roblin will discuss with you, your suitability for liposuction and the benefits that you may expect to gain. He will discuss your expectations, provide a realistic opinion of the outcome of the procedure and whether it is appropriate to proceed. Your body mass index (BMI) will be calculated by measuring your height and weight, and your general fitness for surgery assessed. Further investigations, such as blood tests, may be required to confirm this. He may decide that it is not in your best interests to undertake the surgery.

You will be asked about your general health, particularly information regarding heart disease, diabetes, and deep vein thrombosis (clots in the leg). Mr Roblin will want information about your medical history and any previous surgical procedures.


A small stab incision is made at one or more sites as required, carefully hidden in crease lines to reduce the visibility of scars. Fluid is first infiltrated through these incision sites, followed by the insertion of a suction cannula. With vacuum pressure attached and with a controlled mechanical disruption of the fat cells, the fat is removed. The incision sites are close with dissolving sutures.


The operation is performed under general anaesthesia and takes ½ to 1 hour.

Length of stay

1 night following the operation. Smaller areas - a Day Case.

Risks/Possible complications

Early (1-2 days):

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Discomfort
  • Bleeding (haematoma)
  • Infection

Later (after one week):

  • Scars - may be raised, lumpy, red
  • Fat necrosis
  • Itching
  • Altered or loss of sensation
  • Skin sag
General anaesthetic
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Chest infection
  • Allergic reaction to drugs or tape


Immediately after the operation
  • You will feel bruised and sore and there will be some swelling
  • Pain is usually moderate and controlled with standard painkillers
After return home
  • Socialising with friends at 5-10 days
  • Return to work at 1-2 weeks
  • Driving at 2-3 weeks
  • Swelling and bruising for 6-12 weeks
  • Wear compression garment for at 6 weeks
  • Return to gym and strenuous activity at 4-6 weeks
  • Final result at 3-4 months

Permanence of results

Permanent. Further weight gain will lead to fat being deposited in other areas.