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Most Common Liposuction Side Effects

By Dr. Charles J. Galanis

liposuction side effects

There are so many of us that would like to remove a little stubborn fat from our bodies. In today’s world, there are a lot of cosmetic procedures that can help us achieve the goal of a slimmer, younger, healthier looking us.
When considering various procedures for liposuction and other surgical procedures that could be combined with it, like navigating breast augmentation options or considering how to get the best tummy tuck results, we must also maintain strong consideration for the common liposuction side effects.

While the positives widely outweigh the negatives, never the less, we must take a look at the entire picture when it comes to any of these wonderful procedures that plastic surgeons preform.


Tumescent liposuction, liposuction with fluids injected, represents the most prevalent form of liposuction procedure.  Tumescent liposuction utilizes tumescent anesthesia and microcannulae. These small cannulae create tunnels within the subcutaneous tissue, enabling a more efficient and less invasive fat removal process compared to larger cannulae.

Vaser liposuction, also known as VASERlipo, utilizes ultrasound technology to selectively break down and liquefy fat cells before they are gently suctioned out through a small tube called a cannula. This technology allows for more precise targeting of fat deposits while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues such as blood vessels and nerves.

Super-wet liposuction technique closely resembles the tumescent  procedure. Superwet anesthesia is a regional anesthesia technique employed in liposuction surgery. It involves the uniform and pressurized infusion of a solution until the tissue reaches a state of blanching and moderate tension.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) this liposuction procedure employs ultrasonic vibrations to transform fat cells into a liquid state. A substantial amount of tumescent fluid is used and employs either a metal probe or metal paddle to transmit ultrasonic energy and heat into the subcutaneous fat.

Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) is a liposuction procedure utilizing laser energy to liquify fat cells. The LAL technique involves the application of high-intensity laser light to break down fat, making it easier to remove them through a cannula.

Power-assisted liposuction (PAL)  Power-assisted lipo utilizes slender, high-frequency vibrating cannulas. These vibrating cannulas smoothly navigate through the tissues, gently dislodging fat from their attachments before they are removed with a gentle vacuum suction.


Traditional liposuction is a surgical procedure designed for removing excess fat from specific regions of the body. It is a popular choice among individuals struggling with stubborn fat deposits resistant to conventional diet and exercise efforts.

This surgical procedure, also known as fat removal surgery, is applicable body contouring for various body areas, including the abdomen, thighs, hips, buttocks, arms, and neck.

People opt for a suction assisted liposuction procedure for diverse reasons. Some aim to enhance their body aesthetics and boost self-confidence , while others may grapple with medical conditions leading to excess fat accumulation, which is challenging to address through traditional weight loss approaches.

It is crucial to recognize that liposuction is not an overall weight loss method and should not be viewed as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining realistic expectations regarding the outcomes of the cosmetic procedure is essential as is remembering this is not a weight loss alternative.


Prior to undergoing the liposuction procedure, you will have an initial consultation with your board certified plastic surgeon to discuss your objectives and expectations. During this meeting, your surgeon will assess your health history, current well-being, and the medications or supplements you are currently taking to determine whether you are an ideal candidate for this cosmetic surgery.

Furthermore, your plastic surgeon will furnish you with precise guidelines on how to get ready for the procedure. This may involve refraining from certain medications, adhering to fasting requirements, recommendations for a healthy diet, and receiving instructions on appropriate attire for the day of the procedure.

Information will also be provided to demonstrate the plan in place should any medical emergency arise.


Throughout the procedure, the patient is administered general anesthesia to ensure a pain-free experience. The plastic surgeon will make small incisions in the specified areas where fat removal is desired, and these incisions are typically strategically placed to minimize scarring.

Using a small cannula thin tube, the plastic surgeon will extract excess fat from the incisions. This thin tube is connected to a vacuum device designed to suction out fat removed from the targeted region. The surgeon will maneuver the cannula in a back-and-forth motion to break up the fat, creating a smoother contour.

Upon completing the fat removal surgery, the surgeon will close the incisions using stitches, sutures, or adhesive strips. Subsequently, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incision sites to aid in the healing process and reduce swelling.

The duration of the procedure is contingent on the amount of fat being removed and the number of areas undergoing treatment. While some plastic surgeries may be as brief as one hour, others may extend over several hours.


During your liposuction recovery time, it is normal that you will encounter some discomfort, swelling, and bruising in the targeted areas. These are typical responses indicating your body’s restorative process.

Your surgeon is likely to recommend that you wear compression garments for several weeks to reduce swelling and support the healing process. Additionally, you may be prescribed pain medication to manage any discomfort.

Allowing your body time to recover during the initial days after the liposuction procedure is crucial. This may involve taking time off from work or refraining from strenuous physical activities. It’s normal to observe some fluid accumulation in the treated area during this period, and such occurrences generally diminish over time.

As your body continues to heal, a noticeable enhancement in the appearance of the treated area will become evident. It’s essential to recognize that liposuction is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Sustaining enduring results from the procedure entails maintaining a wholesome diet and incorporating regular exercise into your routine.


While liposuction can lead to many satisfying outcomes and uplifting personal confidence, we must also realistically consider the possible negative aspects of this body contouring procedure and the potential liposuction side effects.

We have compiled a list of liposuction side effects you should consider before going under the knife or needle.

Swelling After Liposuction

Swelling and bruising are typically the most noticeable liposuction side effects in the initial days following the procedure but may persist for several weeks. In liposuction, a cannula is employed to extract excess fat from the treated area, leading to tissue trauma and activating the body’s natural inflammatory response.

The bruising results from the trauma inflicted on blood vessels and capillaries in the treated region, causing blood to seep into the surrounding tissues.

The intensity of these side effects can vary, influenced by factors such as the extent of the procedure, the patient’s age, and overall health.

To minimize excessive swelling after liposuction, patients are advised to adhere to their surgeon’s post-operative care instructions. This may involve wearing compression garments, refraining from strenuous activities, taking prescribed medications, and applying ice to the affected areas.

Contour Irregularities

Uneven fat removal and distribution of subcutaneous fat pockets are prevalent liposuction side effects that cause complications in liposuction surgery. You might have bumpy or wavy skin following uneven fat removal. This may also be caused if tunnels under the skin were formed by the cannula that was used to suction out the fat removed.

This occurs when liposuction is performed excessively or inadequately. Opting for an experienced body contouring and skilled surgeon helps minimize the risk of this complication.

Skin Infections After Liposuction

Any patient who undergoes liposuction could have a weak immune system and be prone to a severe skin infection. Your surgical team must take appropriate precautions during & after surgery to reduce the risk of a severe skin infection. Luckily, a professional doctor can help reduce the chance that another problem might occur.

Irritable Skin Sensation or Numbness

The administration of general anesthesia to numb the treated area is a standard practice in liposuction procedures before making incisions. Consequently, experiencing numbness is a typical and anticipated side effect of liposuction, and this numbness can persist for an extended duration.

Numbness resulting from swelling in the treated area is common, but this specific type of numbness typically resolves once the swelling diminishes. Permanent numbness is extremely rare following a liposuction surgery.

Discomfort and Pain

Post operative liposuction surgery, individuals may encounter sensations of mild to severe pain and discomfort which will require attention. The intensity of the pain fluctuates based on the scope of the cosmetic procedure and the patient’s pain threshold.

Effective management of this discomfort can be achieved through the use of over the counter pain relievers or medications prescribed by plastic surgeons to manage pain.

Fat Embolism After Liposuction

Liposuction leads to the destruction of fat cells, releasing triglycerides that enter damaged blood vessels, potentially causing pulmonary fat embolism in almost all patients. Clinical manifestations of fat embolism are rare occurrences.

The use of the smallest cannula sizes will significantly reduce the risks of the occurrence of a fat embolism during a liposuction.

side effects of liposuctionThermal Burns From Ultrasound and Laser Liposuction

Skin burns represent the most prevalent mishaps associated with non-invasive laser assisted lipo or ultrasound assisted lipo. The laser intensifies heat in the targeted area, and an excess of power application can lead to skin burns. To prevent burns during these liposuction techniques, it is essential to have a qualified technician and to carefully monitor the heat levels.

Skin Necrosis

Skin necrosis represents a potential complication in liposuction procedures involving the removal of numerous fat cells from a specific area. This complication arises when the tissue in the treated region undergoes cell death due to inadequate blood supply.

Individuals who engage in chronic smoking face an elevated risk of developing skin necrosis due to the adverse impact of smoking on blood vessels. Furthermore, skin necrosis can contribute to additional complications such as infection, blood clots, inflammation, or harm to blood vessel.

To mitigate the risk of skin necrosis and other potential complications following liposuction, patients should openly communicate any pre-existing medical conditions or risk factors that could heighten the likelihood of complications to their plastic surgeon.

Adhering to the surgeon’s instructions and ceasing smoking well in advance of the procedure is crucial, as quitting smoking can diminish the risk of complications and support the healing process.

Questions and Answers

Here are some additional Liposuction FAQ’s:

Are the effects of liposuction permanent?

The fat removed during liposuction is permanently eliminated. Nevertheless, this does not imply immunity to weight gain post-surgery. Redistribution of body fat can occur, especially if you don’t maintain a healthy diet and exercise habits to maintain a stable body weight to prevent it.

Who should not get liposuction?

Patients with BMIs of 35 and above pose greater risks, as there might be too much fat in a specific area, making liposuction safety challenging.

Individuals with higher BMIs are more prone to liposuction side effects experiencing excess skin that may not contract effectively after liposuction due to the larger volume of fat. Patients taking blood thinners and anti-inflammatory drugs should also stop usage prior to surgery.

Which type of liposuction techniques have the highest complication rate?

Among aesthetic procedures, gluteal fat transfer stands out as the sole procedure associated with a heightened risk of fatal fat embolism. It is recognized for having the highest mortality rate compared to other aesthetic interventions.

What are the symptoms of poor skin elasticity?

Vibrant and well-maintained skin exhibits a plump, youthful, and hydrated appearance, while the excess skin of those with poor skin elasticity tends to appear thinner, drier, and may exhibit sagging. Smoking is a key factor associated with skin elasticity as exposure to tobacco products leads to a breakdown in elastin.

What happens to fat cells when you get liposuction?

Liposuction surgery reduces the quantity of fat cells in the targeted areas of the body, and the amount of fat removal is contingent upon the area’s appearance and body fat volume.

Typically, the changes in shape are permanent, provided that you don’t gain weight. Following liposuction, the skin adapts to the new contours of the treated areas.

What no one tells you about traditional liposuction?

You should anticipate a notable change following your liposuction procedure, although it won’t be immediate. Waiting as the remaining fat settles and the swelling subsides to unveil your new body contours, may take several weeks or even a few months.

It’s worth noting that there might be a temporary weight gain post-surgery due to fluid retention.


If you’re ready to get serious about the body contouring that you’ve always wanted or are ready to return to, please contact us at Galanis Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills. We can discuss all of your goals along with the possible side effects of liposuction.

Together we can prepare for the best liposuction outcome.




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