Thinking about liposuction, but wondering what it means, exactly, and what's involved in the procedure?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission to help us with some basic information.

We know: All About Liposuction

What does liposuction mean?

Liposuction is the term used for the surgical procedure to remove fat deposits and shape the body. A vacuum-suction instrument shaped like a pen is used to remove fat from under the skin. Sometimes an ultrasonic probe is used to break up the fat into small pieces and then suction it out.

Why do people have the procedure?

Usually to reshape their bodies. It can be used on the abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, arms, buttocks, back, neck, or face. Itís also used for breast reduction and to remove fat tumors.

Who does the procedure?

Any licensed physician can perform liposuction, but itís usually done by plastic surgeons and dermatologists. It can be performed in the doctors office, at a surgical center or in the hospital.

What are the risks from the liposuction procedure?

The risks include:

  • Infection, a risk from any surgical procedure.
  • Embolism, when loose fat enters the blood, which can cause permanent disability or death.
  • Puncture wounds to the organs.
  • Pooling of serum in areas where the tissue has been removed.
  • Nerve complications, swelling, burns, skin death, fluid imbalance and anesthesia complications.

Occasionally, there are deaths attributed to complications from the procedure.

What should I know about finding a doctor?

Liposuction is a service, so shop around.

  • Read more about the procedure and get recommendations from people you know whoíve had the procedure.
  • Be wary of ads that say you will have a perfect appearance afterward.
  • Ask the doctor or doctors you are considering questions. Since any doctor can perform liposuction, be sure you get someone who has had adequate experience. Ask about potential problems and follow ups. Ask for written patient information about the procedure.
  • Because most liposuction is elective, thereís no reason to rush into the procedure. Take your time and donít be pressured into it.

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