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Liposuction is a procedure that can slim and reshape parts of the body. It is the surgical technique used for removing pockets of fat in areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. Liposuction works best for people who are near normal weight and have firm, elastic skin; you should not view liposuction as a substitute for losing weight.

The areas most commonly treated by liposuction include the tummy, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, neck and upper arms. It is sometimes used as a treatment option for the over development of breasts in men too.


How is the procedure done?

Liposuction involves using a thin, hollow tube (called a cannula) which is placed below the skin through tiny incisions. The cannula is then used to loosen the fat and create a nicer shape within the body part being treated. A special vacuum or suction device is attached to the cannula and the fat is removed from the body. Any tiny incisions are sewn up at the end of the operation.

You may read about different liposuction techniques and there are several. It is important to remember that it’s not a one size fits all; no single technique works for all patients.


How long does it take to do the procedure?

The procedure takes between one to three hours to perform, depending on the size of the treatment area(s). Most of the time, you will only need to be in hospital for a few hours, but an overnight stay may be recommended if a large amount of fat is removed (or if liposuction is combined with another procedure).


What type of anaesthetic is used?

Various kinds of anaesthetic can be used and the decision on which is best depends upon your preference, along with the size of the areas to be treated.


How will I feel after my surgery?

You will not be feeling your best after surgery. You are likely to feel stiff and sore and may find walking around uncomfortable at first if the operation was on the lower half or your body. Simple painkillers can be taken to help during this time.

There will be swelling and bruising (which can be extensive and dramatic) for a few weeks – how much depends upon the number of areas you have had treated. You may also feel numbness or unusual sensations for a few weeks to several months. This is quite normal and is caused by disturbing the small nerve fibres beneath the skin during surgery.


Risks and side effects of surgery

Complications are infrequent and usually minor, but remember, no surgery is without risk.

You will have small scars where the cuts or incisions were made. However, wherever possible, Mr Henley makes sure that the cuts are ‘hidden’ in the small skin folds or creases, so that the scars are barely noticeable. These scars usually settle well, but occasionally become raised and lumpy. In this instance, they can take a long time to improve.

A lumpy, uneven appearance is possible at first as the remaining fat settles into its new position. Any unevenness is usually minor.

Other risks that occur with any surgery include bleeding, wound infection, chest infection and blood clots in the leg (known as a deep vein thrombosis), although these are uncommon.


When will I be able to get back to my usual schedule?

At the end of the operation, tight bandages or elasticated clothing will be applied to the area to minimise swelling and help the body conform to its new shape. With the exception of showering, this garment will be worn both day and night for at least two weeks and thereafter for another four to six weeks. Mr Henley believes that wearing compression garments can be beneficial for up to six months following the procedure, if this is something you can tolerate.

If a small amount of fat was removed, you should be fine to return to work within a day or two. However, you may need extra time away from work if the liposuction was more extensive. You may return to your usual routines within three to four weeks.


How long do the results last?

The overall results will be visible within the first two to three weeks and your shape will continue to improve over the next six to nine months. The final result will be long lasting, as long as your weight remains stable.


Liposuction before and after surgery

Patient A

You can see from these photographs that the patient is close to her ideal body weight for her height and frame. However, the area that gave her the most concern was the outer thighs. The before surgery photography on the first row shows the target area for liposuction.

Before Surgery

Seven weeks after surgery


Before Surgery

Seven weeks after surgery

Patient B

The first preoperative photo shows the areas that are to be targeted during surgery - the lower back, buttocks, inner and outer thighs and the back of the knees.

Before Surgery

Six weeks after surgery


Before Surgery

Six weeks after surgery

Mr Henley would like to thank these patients for allowing their photographs to be displayed for the benefit of others who may be considering cosmetic surgery.

The information provided is intended to give a brief outline of the procedure. It is not a substitute for a personal consultation with a surgeon.

Contact 0800 288 4777

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