What is Liposculpture?

Liposculpture is an invasive cosmetic surgical procedure that improves your body contours and proportions. It removes fat cells between the skin and underlying muscles. Liposuction is exactly the same as liposculpture.

A successful liposculpture procedure will highlight your body shape and improve the proportions. When well-trained and experienced Cosmetic Surgeons perform liposculpture on suitable patients, it can reshape problem areas leaving virtually no scars.

This surgical technique can remove unwanted deposits of fat from specific areas of your body, including:

  • The face and neck,
  • Upper arms,
  • Trunk,
  • Abdomen,
  • Buttocks,
  • Hips and thighs, and
  • Knees, calves and ankles.

Who is liposculpture for?

People who are the best candidates for liposculpture have a relatively normal weight with excess fat in specific body areas. Having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour after liposuction.

Patients that have skin tone that has been diminished due to weight loss, stretch marks, or natural ageing sometimes find that their skin does not reshape to the new contours. In these cases, additional surgical techniques may be required to tighten and remove excess skin.

It is important to note that some body areas respond to liposculpture better. Areas like the outer thighs (with firmer skin) will respond better to this procedure than the inner thighs, where the skin is normally looser.

How is liposculpture performed?

Cosmetic Surgeons use a variety of different techniques for liposculpture procedures. This surgery can be performed under local or general anaesthesia.
Suction-assisted lipectomy surgery (called SAL, or just plain liposuction) is performed by using a hollow metal surgical instrument known as a cannula that is inserted through small skin incisions and is passed back and forth through the area of fatty deposit. This cannula is attached to a vacuum source, which provides the suction needed to remove the fatty tissue.

In some cases, your Cosmetic Surgeon may use a special cannula that emits ultrasonic energy to break down fatty deposits. This technique is known as ultrasound-assisted lipectomy. Depending on your needs, your surgeon may recommend suction-assisted lipectomy alone, or in combination with ultrasound-assisted lipectomy.

Tumescent liposuction technique involves the infiltration of fluid containing dilute local anaesthetic and epinephrine (adrenaline) into areas of fatty deposits. This technique can reduce discomfort at the time of surgery, blood loss, and post-operative bruising.  

Support garments and dressings are worn to control swelling and promote healing. Compression garments are absolutely essential in achieving safe liposuction, and in achieving good results. 

Pain after liposculpture is normal and can require prescription medication. Many patients report feeling uncomfortable for the first few days. This pain then reduces with only a small amount of pain being felt for several weeks after the liposculpture procedure.

If you have severe pain after your procedure, it is very important to let your Cosmetic Surgeon know. This could be a sign that you have developed complications.

Key facts about liposculpture

  • All different types of liposculpture remove fat underneath the skin through a thin metal tube introduced under the skin through small incisions, usually about 5mm in length.
  • Liposculpture is not a substitute for weight reduction, but a method for removing localised deposits of fatty tissue that do not respond to diet or exercise.
    When you have a liposculpture procedure, very dilute local anaesthetic solution will be infiltrated into the treatment area first. This will numb the area so the cannula can easily pass through the area to remove your fat.
  • Different types of liposculpture include laser liposculpture, power liposculpture, ultrasonic liposculpture, and water-jet assisted liposculpture.
    Liposculpture may be performed as a primary procedure for body contouring or combined with other surgical techniques such as facelift, abdominoplasty, many breast procedures, or thigh lift procedures. Using liposculpture as part of these procedures allows your Cosmetic Surgeon to shape or sculpt the areas to improve your body appearance.
  • Unfortunately liposculpture by itself will never improve the appearance of cellulite. It effectively corrects disproportionate fat deposits that are genetically acquired that can’t be corrected with exercise and diet alone.
  • The liposculpture procedure can be performed under local anaesthetic only, local anaesthetic plus light sedation, or general anaesthetic.
  • The timing of your liposculpture procedure needs to take into account your current weight, planned weight loss, and pregnancies.
  • It is important to note that after a liposculpture procedure you will need to wear a compression garment.

When you should have liposculpture

It is important to note that liposculpture is not a surgical procedure to lose weight. For patients that are extremely overweight, the Cosmetic Surgeon may advise them to lose some weight before having the surgery. If patients are slightly overweight, liposculpture can be beneficial because the fat layer is easier to remove.

Due to inherited body shape, some people choose to have a liposculpture procedure performed when they are younger. While younger skin has more elasticity and the recovery can be better, people of all ages can have this surgery.

Who is not suitable for liposculpture?

You will not be suitable for the liposculpture procedure if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Have blood clotting or bleeding disorders
  • Have cardiac or respiratory problems
  • Your Cosmetic Surgeon will advise of your suitability for this surgical procedure.

What are the risks and complications of liposculpture?

Any surgical operation brings complications of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will be able to discuss with you the possible complications of having an anaesthetic.

General complications of every surgery include:

  • Blood clot in your leg (deep-vein thrombosis – DVT). This can cause pain, swelling or redness in your leg, or the veins near the surface of your leg to appear larger than normal. Your healthcare team will assess your risk. They will encourage you to get out of bed soon after the operation and may give you injections, medication, or special stockings to wear. Let the healthcare team know straightaway if you think you might have a DVT.
  • Blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolus). If a blood clot moves through your bloodstream to your lungs. If you become short of breath, feel pain in your chest or upper back, or if you cough up blood, let the healthcare team know straightaway. If you are at home, call an ambulance or go immediately to your nearest Emergency department.
  • Pain. Your healthcare team will give you medication to control the pain. To reduce discomfort and prevent headaches, it’s important that you take the medication.

The specific risks and complications of liposculpture surgery include:

While liposculpture is an effective and safe procedure that leads to aesthetically pleasing results, there are risks and complications to consider.

  • Cosmetic complications. If a patient is not pleased with the outcome, a ‘touch up’ procedure can be performed. This may involve having a small amount of liposuction to an area that is protruding or irregular after the initial liposuction. If an area has been over liposculptured, fat can also be transferred from another part of the body it in. The final shape from liposculpture will not be usually achieved for 6 months. Tissue remodelling occurs for about 12 months. If you need touch ups, it is best to leave them for at least 6 months after the initial liposculpture procedure.
  • Excessive blood loss. With today’s modern liposculpture techniques, this is extremely uncommon.
  • Patient selection. If a patient has poor skin elasticity, they may not achieve the results they desire due to poor skin retraction post procedure. It is very important for the cosmetic surgeon to manage expectations of the patient as to what can and cannot be achieved with liposculpture.
  • Skin irregularities. This may be caused by over-liposculpture or not enough liposculpture.
  • Skin laxity. If an area has been over-liposculptured, it can results in a reduction of fat where the skin cannot retract over. If your skin is loose to being with, the likelihood of this happening will increase.
  • Deep vein thrombosis. Liposculpture performed under local anaesthetic has a decreased chance of causing deep vein thrombosis than if performed under general anaesthetic. Under local anaesthetic you can still use your muscles during liposuction. This helps to promote circulation and will prevent the stasis of blood.
  • Infection after liposculpture. This is extremely uncommon, because a sterile field is always maintained during the procedure. Prophylactic antibiotics are given to the patient immediately before the procedure. Patients also take these for up to a week after the procedure. In addition, the anaesthetic solution given to numb the fat is antibacterial.
  • Lignocaine toxicity. Lignocaine is a local anaesthetic agent that is used in most liposculpture procedures. It is safe up to a level that is based on the patient’s weight.
  • Haematoma. Wearing compression garments will usually prevent a collection of blood under the skin. In some instances they may need draining.
  • Seroma. This collection of fluid under the skin needs daily drainage. Compression garments can help to significantly reduce seroma from forming.

What is recovery like after liposculpture?

Recovery from liposculpture will vary from person to person. You will see immediate results after surgery, however bruising and swelling will take weeks to resolve. It is important to note that weight gain because of the swelling can occur. Over time, this will resolve. Most liposculpture patients see the best results 6 months after the procedure, with improvements continuing for up to 12 months.

Most cosmetic surgeons recommend taking at least a week off from work and your regular routine. If you have only had a small amount of liposculpture done, you may only need to take a few days off work. To prevent swelling and blood clots, it is recommended that you take regular gentle walks.
Any heavy exercise or strenuous activities needs to be avoided for 2 to 3 weeks.

After the liposculpture procedure, you will have a compression garment on 24/7. Most liposculpture patients need to wear the compression garment for at least 7 days. To absorb the fluid from the incisions, there will be pads inside the compression garment. These will need to be changed regularly.

Before you remove the compression garment, as you may feel dizzy and light headed it is important that you have someone with you. Cosmetic surgeons generally recommend that their patients wear the compression garment for up to 3 weeks. After a week, you will be able to remove it for one hour, twice a day.

Pain medication including painkillers and anti-inflammatories will be prescribed. Patients report the pain the experience is similar to muscle soreness after a heavy gym workout.

Although the small incisions from the liposculpture procedure will be less than 1cm long, the incisions will go through a scarring maturation process. Over the course of a year, the scar will become red, firm and/or raised. When the scar matures it becomes pale, soft, flat and less noticeable.

To minimise the appearance of scars, some cosmetic surgeons may recommend using scar lightening creams, laser treatments or injections. Because UV rays can darken the appearance of scars, you must take care to avoid any prolonged sun exposure and use sunscreen for at least 2 months after the procedure.

What happens if you get pregnant after having liposculpture?

Although liposculpture should pose no risk to any future pregnancies, it is important to note that every woman’s body reacts differently to pregnancy. Pregnancy will change your body significantly. For this reason, many women delay having liposculpture until they have finished their family.

If you have liposculpture and get pregnant, a tummy tuck or mummy makeover can restore your results while addressing post pregnancy sagging skin.

How to choose a liposculpture surgeon

With any elective cosmetic surgery procedure, the most important factor in choosing a surgeon is experience. We suggest you make a short list of surgeons, and have multiple consultations before you select one. Find the best Liposculpture Cosmetic Surgeons in Australia here.

At your consultation, the surgeon will examine you as you discuss the areas of your body that concern you. They will assess your fat distribution and body shape and advise you on what areas could be treated. To indicate what areas could be treated, some surgeons may make preliminary markings on your body. They will also let you know how much fat can be safely removed so the final result is aesthetically pleasing.

Important to know

So you can make an informed decision, your elected surgeon will discuss the possible risks associated with liposuction. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, it's important to understand how they can be managed in the event that they occur. Liposuction is generally safe, but there are rare risks of liposuction that can cause serious injury. 

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 Ellis Choy

Ellis Choy

292 Reviews

Plastic Surgeon
New South Wales, Australia

Jules77 October 5th, 2016

Like many women, my outer upper highs and buttocks had presented as an annoyance for most of my adult life. I have always fallen in the low range obese zone when looking at my BMI, but never felt obese. I do have a stockier build in terms of my thighs, with strong muscle developed over the years. However, my “saddlebags” always caused me the most frustration as it made me look disproportionate and bigger then I actually was. I was never able to effectively “get rid of” or reduce this area, outside of when I was breastfeeding my kids. Very soon after stopping, both times, this area would build up again with fat stores. I have always undertaken regular rigorous exercise and a have lead a consistently good lifestyle (avoiding processed foods, non-smoker and negligible alcohol consumption). Surgical intervention became a serious consideration about 18months ago however I had known about Liposuction for over 15years. I did consciously decide to wait and see how the technology progressed throughout the years, and also decided to focus on non-surgical intervention first with limited results, but again, those specific areas were extremely recalcitrant to shift in any meaningful way. Once I started the “process” of meeting with practitioners, Liposuction was, at the time, the procedure I expected to have, however, due to my skin, age and specific problem areas, I was advised by Dr Choy at our first meeting a more radical approach should be considered for longer lasting and more profound results, based on what I had explained were my goals. I was thrown back naturally as I had never considered myself a candidate for this procedure. I had always imagined morbidly obese people who had lost huge amounts of weight needing this procedure. I researched practitioners across Sydney and Melbourne, 9 in total. Some were Cosmetic Surgeons and some Plastic Surgeons. Very quickly I identified a clear difference between the two types of practitioners and consciously decided to focus my energy on Plastic Surgeons, as highly qualified as possible and I also decided feedback from the broader community was an important indicator as well as the geography. I used online platforms to read up about potential surgeons. Of the Plastic Surgeons I met with (5 in total), Dr Choy had my confidence within the first minutes of meeting him. During the consultation we discussed possible options and the pros and cons of each one, and once we had narrowed down the focus, my entire body was marked up to show me (in principles) how the body lift procedure would be undertaken. We reviewed before and after photos and teased out the risks and benefits, we also discussed costs. I had no less than 3 more appointments before deciding to proceed. It was a big deal to me, and technically a radical procedure – at no point in time did he minimise or trivialise what was involved. I was what you would describe as an apprehensive patient (not fearful though), and one who really wants to understand all the details and asks a lot of questions. He was always extremely patient and generous with his time. The customer service experience was fluid with everyone supportive, friendly and accessible. The clinic was welcoming, beautifully decorated and professional. The first 2 weeks post op were difficult, a lot of pain and no sleep. I opted to take limited amount of pain relief for my own reasons. Having 2 young children did not help during this time! Week 2-4 was much better, and now it is Week 6, and I feel very good. Back to my outdoor high intensity training, able to move freely. In terms of the impact of the surgery on my life, I have experienced some highs and some flat moments to be candid but I remain confident I made the right choice. Liposuction alone could not have provided me with the same results. The scar is there, but I have started to embrace it and know it will improve with time and scar management. Actually, the scar line was kept remarkably low and neat so I am already ahead. The most important outcome is that my proportions have improved noticeably. I have already been able to wear certain types of clothes I had otherwise avoided and bought my summer bikini only recently, which felt very good. I believe I am very close to achieving the upper thighs and buttock I have always desired. My current strategy is to not focus on my body too much, and allow it the time it needs to properly heal and settle (I still have some swelling and tenderness). I always look forward to my appointment with Dr Choy with another follow up very soon to review the results and how all is progressing.


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KatieMc 29/12/2023 NSW

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Ross 23/02/2024 WA

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