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What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses a cannula inserted through small incisions to remove unwanted fat. It is much more effective than non-surgical fat reduction devices currently on the market, as it physically removes fatty deposits and can treat larger quantities of fat when compared to medical spa treatments.

It is important to remember that liposuction is not a way to lose weight. Liposuction can remove fat, but it will not shed pounds. Fat is very light, and the amount removed will only weigh a few pounds at most. If you are looking for a quick method of weight loss, liposuction is not the answer. The best way to lose weight is by following a healthy diet and exercise plan, or by seeing a bariatric surgeon for more substantial weight loss surgery.

Key Liposuction Terms to Know

While liposuction is one of the most frequently performed procedures in the country, we understand that patients may not be previously familiar with the terminology used with this type of cosmetic surgery. Dr. Bottger believes that patient education and a mutual understanding of the procedure are essential to obtaining the best results, so we encourage you to review the following terms commonly associated with liposuction:

  • Cannula: A long, narrow surgical instrument inserted into tiny incisions to remove excess fat cells via suction-assisted technology. 
  • Liposculpture: The medical term for the liposuction procedure, in which fat is removed from the face and/or body to achieve a sleeker contour in the treated areas. 
  • Tumescent: A liposuction technique designed to reduce bleeding and swelling by introducing a solution of medications into the planned treatment areas prior to fat removal. 
  • Cellulite: The appearance of skin dimpling due to the tightening of fibrous bands connecting the muscle to the skin. While some people think fat removal can reduce skin dimpling, liposuction is not an effective treatment for cellulite.
  • Lidocaine: A local anesthetic applied or injected to numb the treatment area(s). 

Reviewing these key terms can be a good starting point in gaining a better idea of the liposuction procedure before you schedule a consultation. Dr. Bottger is committed to answering all of your questions and helping ensure you have a strong understanding of liposuction before you move forward with surgery. 

How Does Liposuction Work?

Liposuction uses vacuum-based suction to extract excess fat from the body. This suction is often accompanied by technologies designed to dislodge the fat more efficiently, such as power-assisted liposuction and laser liposuction. These complementary techniques often result in an improved recovery period with minimized bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. By surgically removing fat deposits, liposuction allows plastic surgeons to obtain a smoother and more aesthetic contour in the treated areas compared to non-surgical methods of fat removal, which offer less control over the results. If a patient has good skin tone, the regions treated with liposuction should look slimmer and more taut after the procedure. With a healthy and active lifestyle, the outcome of liposuction can last for many decades or even a lifetime.

What are the Benefits of Liposuction?

Liposuction offers a variety of notable benefits when compared to other cosmetic procedures. Primarily, liposuction is among the least invasive aesthetic surgeries available and can still achieve powerful results. Other benefits include: 

  • A relatively smooth and fast recovery period
  • Short incisions and minimal scarring
  • The ability to treat virtually any region of the body
  • Decades of scientific research and clinical results to support its safety and effectiveness

For men and women who are looking to tone their body but can’t seem to eliminate select pockets of stubborn fat, liposuction can be the most efficient solution to attain the physique you desire. The potential benefits will vary from patient to patient, but Dr. Bottger can give you a better idea of what outcome you can expect once he evaluates your areas of concern.

Is Liposuction Right for Me?

In general, the best candidate for liposuction is a person who:

  • Is in good health
  • Is close to his or her ideal weight
  • Has one or more areas of localized fatty deposits that have not been responsive to diet or exercise
  • Has good, firm skin tone without significant laxity

While a common procedure, liposuction is still surgery and requires patients to be in good health before treatment. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as diabetes, please be certain it is under control and get clearance from your primary doctor before deciding to undergo liposuction. In addition, smoking greatly increases the risk of complications from liposuction. If you are a smoker, you should quit for at least one month prior to surgery.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck

Liposuction and tummy tuck procedures are both very popular and effective, but they accomplish different things. A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, addresses loose skin and muscles as well as excess fat in the abdomen. Liposuction, on the other hand, does not address loose skin.

Mothers with stretched skin and muscles from pregnancy, as well as people who have lost massive amounts of weight, tend to be good tummy tuck candidates. In addition, older men and women with lax skin may benefit more from a tummy tuck or body lift when compared to liposuction alone. In some cases, liposuction combined with a tummy tuck may be the best option.

What Areas Can Liposuction Treat?

The most common belief about liposuction is that surgery can help slim the waist and abdomen. This is often true, but there are many other areas that liposuction can also help treat. Liposuction can remove small, precise amounts of fat as well as larger regions of fat accumulation.

Some of the most common areas that Dr. Bottger can treat with liposuction include:

  • Facial Liposuction: The submental region is a fairly common liposuction treatment site. Many people have significant amounts of fat underneath their chin that they want to reduce in order to obtain a clean, sculpted neck and jawline. Neck liposuction can be very safe and produce beautiful results for men and women alike. For the right candidate, neck liposuction can also be performed in conjunction with a facelift for optimal results.
  • Upper Body Liposuction: Excess fat in the arms, “bra bulge,” or some cases of excess fat in the chest causing male breasts can be treated effectively with liposuction. Men who want a flatter chest, women who want to get rid of fat bulges around the bra line, and anyone with bulging upper arms (without the presence of excess skin) can be liposuction candidates.
  • Lower Body Liposuction: This is the most common region for liposuction and treatment sites may include the abdomen, waist, “love handles,” thighs, buttocks, lower back, and hips. On occasion, liposuction can be performed on the calves or ankles, but these areas can be very tricky.

Types of Liposuction

The different types of liposuction described in greater detail include:

  • Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL): This method of liposuction utilizes a cannula that emulsifies targeted fat with sound waves. While this method is generally touted as a way to make fat easier to remove, Dr. Bottger does not feel it offers any significant benefits over the standard suction-assisted technique. In addition, UAL is typically associated with a higher risk of complications.
  • Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL): This technique uses a vibrating cannula to help automate the process of breaking up fat. While it may reduce the work of the surgeon, it offers no appreciable benefits in terms of results.
  • Tumescent Liposuction: This approach involves injecting a diluted solution of adrenaline, which works to constrict the blood vessels and reduce potential bleeding. A diluted solution of lidocaine can also be added in order to numb the treated area depending on the method of anesthesia utilized. Tumescent liposuction is considered the safest method and is usually performed in conjunction with the standard suction-assisted liposuction and power-assisted liposuction that Dr. Bottger prefers.

When undergoing liposuction, the technique of the surgeon is more important than the type of liposuction chosen. Each surgeon will have a different preference, so the best way to maximize your results is by reviewing how much experience he or she has while exploring their liposuction before-and-after photos.

How is the Liposuction Procedure Performed?

bg-performedDepending on the extent of your liposuction procedure as well as personal preference, either local anesthesia with sedation, general anesthesia, or epidural anesthesia can be used. Dr. Bottger will discuss anesthesia options for liposuction with you during your consultation. When considering liposuction, patients are sometimes confronted with a confusing array of techniques and technologies. There are a variety of liposuction procedures available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Common approaches to liposuction include the standard technique, tumescent liposuction, power-assisted liposuction (PAL), laser liposuction (SmartLipo™), ultrasonic liposuction (VASER®), body-jet® water-assisted liposuction, and even “tickle” liposuction.

Dr. Bottger has utilized many of these techniques and studied all of them extensively. For some time, he has been performing SAFE liposuction—commonly known as the separation, aspiration, and fat equalization technique. This procedure is aptly named the tumescent technique, and utilizes a gentle vibrating cannula to provide the smoothest and most predictable results possible. Tumescent liposuction avoids the pitfalls of heat produced by certain energy systems (e.g. SmartLipo™ and VASER®), which may include skin burns and deep scar tissue formation.

Besides primary cases, tumescent liposuction is also ideal for secondary cases. Dr. Bottger prefers to use the tumescent technique in complement with the simplest and most effective liposuction procedure: suction-assisted liposuction. With this approach, Dr. Bottger utilizes a thin cannula in a back-and-forth motion to break up fat and suction it out. Because the manual back-and-forth movement is performed by Dr. Bottger himself, results are more predictable due to a greater sense of control over the end contour.

What is Recovery After Liposuction Like?

Generally, recovery is very tolerable. You will have some bruising and swelling after your liposuction procedure. Most bruising and the majority of swelling should disappear within a few weeks; however, residual swelling can last for up to six months. Recovery time following liposuction varies from patient to patient. The number of areas treated also affects recovery time—one area will often heal faster than multiple areas. As long as you follow Dr. Bottger’s post-operative care instructions, you should be able to return to work within the first week. Patients generally have a good idea of what their final appearance will look like after about three months.

Recovery Tips After Liposuction

Liposuction is considered minimally invasive, giving patients the benefit of a relatively shorter recovery period when compared to other aesthetic procedures. A few tips that may help healing proceed as smoothly as possible include:

  • Wear your compression garments or bandages for the amount of time prescribed by Dr. Bottger. This helps reduce swelling and accelerates the recovery period. 
  • Get plenty of rest after the procedure to give your body adequate time to heal. Once you feel up to it, we encourage patients to lightly ambulate by standing, walking around the house, and performing other non-strenuous activities. This can help promote blood flow. 
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and nutrients to help decrease inflammation after liposuction. 

When Can I Exercise Again After Liposuction?

Most patients can return to non-strenuous work and light activity the first week after surgery. You will be able to take a shower within 48 hours. You can begin lightly exercising one week after your procedure. It can be helpful to start out with more mild workouts, then gradually introduce more demanding exercises once you learn how your body responds. Always follow Dr. Bottger’s instructions on activity restrictions and avoid heavy lifting and aerobic exercise until he advises otherwise. Bruising and swelling from liposuction should resolve within two to three weeks.

How Long Does Liposuction Last?

In some ways, liposuction results are permanent. However, this does not mean you cannot gain weight after a liposuction procedure. One of the most important requirements for maintaining liposuction results is sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle following your procedure.

Here’s a general overview of the long-term results you can expect from liposuction:

  • Fat cells do not return: The good news is that fat cells removed by liposuction will not return. Your body contains a fixed amount of fat cells that grow larger or smaller due to fluctuations in weight. Therefore, your fat cell reduction after liposuction is permanent.
  • You can still gain weight: A permanent reduction in fat cells does not mean an unchanging appearance to your body shape. Surrounding fat cells, and any fat cells left behind after liposuction, can still fluctuate in size—any weight gain after surgery will make them bigger. If you gain a large amount of weight, it’s common for areas other than the previously treated regions to be affected first. If you continue to gain weight, even the treated area can be affected.

We highly recommend that individuals interested in liposuction remain at a stable weight after the procedure. Liposuction is not a means of weight loss, and must go hand-in-hand with a conscious effort to lead a healthy lifestyle in order for results to stick.

Will I Have Visible Scars After Liposuction?

Fortunately, when compared to other body contouring procedures, liposuction typically leaves the least amount of visible scarring possible. Since the surgical cannula is inserted through tiny incisions less than one inch long, post-surgical scars can be virtually undetectable. The number of incisions made will depend on the extent of fat removal and the size of the treated region(s). Depending on your concerns, Dr. Bottger may be able to place incisions along a natural fold or contour of the skin, allowing scars to blend seamlessly into the targeted area. You can begin applying sun protection and scar-lightening ointments over the area once scars are fully matured. This can further encourage the fading of scars after liposuction.

Is Non-Surgical Liposuction Possible?

Unfortunately, non-surgical treatment options to remove excess fat are incapable of achieving the same quality of results as liposuction. While certain medical spa procedures can be effective at reducing bulges of fat, these minimally invasive techniques typically do not produce noticeable results until months after the initial treatment, or they require multiple sessions to achieve the desired results. Furthermore, they are often limited in the amount of fat that can be removed, as well as the regions of the body capable of being treated. Liposuction is currently the only method of fat removal that can:

  • Achieve results that are visible almost immediately after the procedure
  • Treat multiple areas of the body at once during the same surgery
  • Remove larger volumes of fat with surgical and artistic precision

For these reasons, liposuction is widely considered the most effective, predictable, and successful way to reduce fat and smooth body contours. Thanks to advances in cosmetic surgery since liposuction was introduced, it’s now possible to undergo the procedure with less bleeding, discomfort, and recovery time than more traditional liposuction techniques.

What are the Risks of Liposuction?

Although liposuction presents many of the same risks as other cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, such as bleeding, infection, and contour irregularities, major complications are uncommon. By utilizing the tumescent technique—which introduces a solution of saline and dilute epinephrine to the area prior to fat removal—Dr. Bottger is able to vastly minimize potential bleeding and bruising from the procedure when compared to standard liposuction surgery. Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform your liposuction is the most effective way to minimize the likelihood of potential complications. With an accredited surgeon, you can feel confident that their methods, experience, training, and competency were vetted by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Furthermore, this credential can be vital throughout the process of selecting who to entrust with your safety and cosmetic goals.

How Much Does Liposuction Cost?

Liposuction costs vary depending on a number of factors, including the skill of your surgeon, the area you live in, and how many areas are being treated. Generally speaking, the cost of liposuction starts at $6,030. Philadelphia plastic surgeon Dr. David Bottger will give you an exact quote with all fees included during your consultation. If necessary, we do offer affordable plastic surgery financing plans to help you meet your budget.

Choosing your surgeon is the most important part of the liposuction process. It is absolutely essential to choose a surgeon who has board certification in plastic surgery and extensive training with all liposuction techniques. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania state law only requires a medical license to perform liposuction. Therefore, unqualified physicians have begun offering cut-rate liposuction procedures at significantly reduced costs. People seduced by what they perceive as a great deal often come to regret it when they are forced to spend much more on revision surgery to correct bad liposuction outcomes as a result of these unqualified doctors.

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Awesome and professional. I had liposuction done and am fully satisfied with my results.


Does Liposuction Get Rid of Cellulite?

Liposuction is not a treatment for cellulite, stretch marks, or sagging skin. It is solely designed to help contour areas of stubborn fat. In some cases, fat reduction may help improve the appearance of cellulite, but this is not guaranteed. It is a myth that cellulite is caused by fat. Women (and some men, although cellulite predominantly affects women) of all ages and weights can be affected. The main risk factors for cellulite include:

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging

Cellulite is estimated to affect nearly 80 to 90 percent of women, often appearing on the buttocks, thighs, or abdomen. While liposuction does not primarily treat cellulite, the procedure may help reduce skin dimpling to some extent for certain patients.

Is Liposuction Safe?

Liposuction is considered a very safe procedure with an extremely low likelihood of complications under the right type of care. Since its introduction, this suction-based fat removal treatment has become one of the most well-researched and clinically-supported cosmetic surgeries available. Newer techniques have also allowed liposuction to evolve even further, with protocols for easier and more comfortable fat removal now incorporated into many liposuction procedures. That said, the safety of liposuction is predicated on whether patients are under the care of an experienced plastic surgeon, so it’s vitally important to enlist an aesthetic surgeon who has been accredited by the American Board of Plastic Surgery before pursuing the procedure.

Can I Complement My Results With Other Procedures?

As a simple and relatively straightforward surgery, liposuction is often combined with other treatment options to attain a more comprehensive result. For example, a joint liposuction and tummy tuck procedure is a very common treatment plan for patients who want to gain a smooth and taut abdomen. The best combination of procedures for you will depend on the nature of your aesthetic goals. Along with removing excess fat, Dr. Bottger also performs procedures to trim and tighten loose skin on the arms, thighs, and back, including an arm lift, thigh lift, back lift, or full body lift.

Liposuction and any additional procedures of your choosing can be implemented into a Mommy Makeover, which is typically performed for women who have had children and want to restore their pre-pregnancy figure (although any patient who simply wishes to address multiple concerns at once can be a candidate for a Mommy Makeover). In many cases, combining liposuction with other surgeries can allow Dr. Bottger to comprehensively improve the fat, skin, and musculature of the targeted region.

Is Plus-Size Liposuction Possible?

Liposuction is most successful for individuals who are within 30 percent of their ideal weight, so each patient is assessed on an individual basis. When it comes to evaluating candidacy, a patient’s overall health and skin elasticity are usually bigger determinants of whether liposuction can safely and effectively achieve their goals. It’s important to remember that liposuction is purely meant for body sculpting purposes and may not be the best treatment option for patients primarily seeking weight loss. Although the procedure can be performed on a diverse range of body types, the best results are achieved when patients achieve their weight loss goals prior to surgery.

Additional Liposuction FAQs

Can liposuction be used for weight loss?

Liposuction is not a weight loss procedure and undergoing liposuction will not help you lose weight. The portrayal of liposuction in popular culture often creates certain misconceptions about surgery, including the notion that it can be utilized to shed unwanted pounds. Simply put, liposuction is a body sculpting procedure. It is designed to eliminate stubborn deposits of fat that do not respond to diet or exercise, resulting in an enhanced shape or contour in the treated area(s). The ideal candidates for liposuction are, in fact, at or near their ideal body weight.

How can I preserve my results from liposuction?

It’s important to understand what you should expect after your procedure—specifically, how you can maintain your results as long as possible. Since the fat cells destroyed by the procedure never return, the effects of liposuction can be very long-lasting; however, this does not mean unhealthy eating and zero exercise will not alter the outcome. It is still possible to expand remaining fat cells and gain additional fat.

Of course, this can only happen if you fail to maintain a proper diet and regular exercise. If you eat right and stay active, you can expect to fully enjoy the results of your liposuction procedure for many years to come.

Is liposuction covered by insurance?

Liposuction is considered a cosmetic procedure rather than a medical necessity, therefore it is not usually covered by insurance. While medical insurance may not be applicable, Dr. Bottger accepts patient financing from qualified applicants through CareCredit®—a highly reputable lending company commonly utilized for elective healthcare treatments. Once approved, CareCredit® can make your liposuction expenses more affordable while allowing you to pursue the procedure right away. Please don’t hesitate to call our office for any questions you have about your payment options.

How old do you have to be to get liposuction?

Liposuction can be performed on individuals who are 18 and over. It’s very important that those considering liposuction are mature enough to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure so they can make a fully informed decision. A certain level of physical maturity is also necessary before undergoing cosmetic surgery, which is usually achieved in adulthood.

How much fat can be removed with liposuction?

The amount of fat that can be safely removed during a single liposuction procedure varies according to a patient’s weight and body mass index (BMI). While general guidelines from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) discourage removing more than 5 L of fatty tissue during a single surgical procedure, new research from the ASPS suggests the “cut-off” point should be evaluated by a patient’s anatomical indicators. The safest, most optimal degree of fat removal for your goals will be assessed based on your needs.

How much weight can you lose with liposuction?

Liposuction can remove up to 11 pounds of fat in a single procedure, but the surgery is by no means intended to be a weight loss solution. This fat reduction technique is solely utilized as a body sculpting surgery to smooth bulges of localized fat. Dr. Bottger suggests dieting and exercise, or consulting a bariatric surgeon, as safer and more effective strategies to lose weight.

How can I reduce swelling after liposuction?

After liposuction surgery, swelling is common but should be mild to moderate in severity. This will slowly subside as your body recovers, but some steps you can take to accelerate the healing process include wearing any bandages or compression garments as instructed and limiting your consumption of salty/unhealthy foods. Over-the-counter medication can also help manage any discomfort or excessive swelling. Furthermore, Dr. Bottger advises avoiding tobacco during recovery. Smoking can not only prolong swelling, but also cause complications such as poor healing and infections.

Does liposuction get rid of stretch marks?

Unfortunately, liposuction is only designed for selective fat removal and cannot improve the appearance of stretch marks. Typically located on the waist, thighs, buttocks, and legs, stretch marks often develop when individuals age — especially when patients experience weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and other factors prone to stretching the skin. Stretch marks on the lower abdomen may be removed with abdominoplasty, depending on whether they’re found beneath the navel (belly button). Dr. Bottger can evaluate your stretch marks and advise you on the best treatments to address your concerns.

Can liposuction get rid of a double chin?

Yes, liposuction can be a very effective treatment to slim excess fat in the neck known as a “double chin.” The submental (under the chin) region is prone to the buildup of excess fat cells, sometimes obscuring a patient’s youthful facial angles and causing the face to look fuller. For those who have adequate skin tone, liposuction can remove fat around the chin and neck to provide a sharper facial profile and a more contoured jawline. Once swelling subsides, the results can be immediate. We welcome you to explore our gallery of previous patients who achieved their goals with neck liposuction to learn more about the outcome you can expect to receive.

If you are interested in liposuction to reshape your face or body, don’t hesitate to contact experienced plastic surgeon Dr. David Bottger at (610) 227-6119 to schedule your consultation at our Philadelphia office. He would be happy to answer any questions you have and confirm whether you’re a good candidate for liposuction.