Liposuction, otherwise known as fat removal, is a minimally invasive procedure to help patients remove areas of stubborn fat that have resisted dieting and exercise. Also known as lipoplasty (fat modelling) or simply as lipo this treatment is not to be seen as being a "quick fix" option for losing weight and can be an extremely effective means of permanently reshaping a wide variety of problem areas around the body.

How Much Does Liposuction Cost?

When calculating the potential cost of liposuction potential patients should take into account a variety of different factors. With regards to the patient themselves their current weight, the amount of fat being removed and are being treated all have a deciding influence on the price of the treatment. Various other factors including the location and reputation of the clinic where the procedure is being performed as well as the skill, experience and quality of the practitioner performing the procedure also plays a large part in determining the final cost of the treatment. On average potential patients can expect to pay anything from £2,300 to upwards of £6,000 for their treatment. The best way to find affordable liposuction is to shop around the internet, visit clinics and compare prices.

Procedure Price (GBP)
Liposuction £2,770-£6,000
VASER Liposuction £2,600-£6,000
Laser Liposuction £2,770-£6,000
SmartLipo £1,999-£6,000
CoolSculpting £2,770-£6,000
MicroLipo £2,300 for one area

Financing Liposuction Treatment

The majority of liposuction providers offer a variety of different finance options to help potential patients take advantage of the variety of treatments available. These include "buy now pay later" schemes, 0% interest loan and even specifically designed monthly payment plans to help a prospective patient fund their procedure and spread the cost of their surgery. Depending on their financial circumstances clinics may be willing to offer patients anything from £1000-£3000 to cover the cost of their procedure.

How Does Liposuction Work?

Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, explains exactly what liposuction involves:


Video Transcript

"Liposuction is a very interesting surgical technique. Before I explain how it works it's worth noting what happens with fat cells when we put on weight. Each of us has only so many fat cells in our body, and when you put on weight those fat cells get bigger, you don’t generate more fat cells. So liposuction works by permanently removing those fat cells.

Where liposuction works best is where there are unwanted bulges, so for example if you have a normal contour up the side of your leg and then you have a big bulge on the lateral side, with liposuction you can take a load of fat cells out from that big bulge so you make the contour sit down and match up with the rest of the skin around you. Then essentially what you’ve done is you’ve permanently rebalanced the amount of fat in one area compared with the other.

Now if you put on weight it all grows together and if you lose weight it all goes down together, so that’s essentially how liposuction works. It works by removing fat cells."

Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital


What Areas Of The Body Can Be Treated With Liposuction?

Liposuction can be used in any area of the body where fat builds up. It is most commonly used to remove fat that has built up around the abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks.

It is also possible to use liposuction to remove fat from the breasts, which is a great way to perk them up and achieve a younger, firmer look. This form of liposuction is particularly popular with men who find it difficult to lose fat from their breast area and achieve a toned effect in this part of the body.

Areas of the front of the body that can be treated with liposuction.
Areas of the back of the body that can be treated with liposuction.

Liposuction can also be used in other areas such as the legs. People often find it difficult to lose weight from their hips and thighs, so these are commonly treated. However, liposuction is also possible for the knees, ankles and calves. Many use it for their arms too, in particular their upper arms.

Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, outlines which areas of the body are suitable for liposuction:


Video Transcript

"Liposuction can be used to treat any area of the body where there’s excess fat, but it’s got to be safe to pass the tube back and forth to suck the fat out. So actually in the face, we don’t use liposuction because there are too many structures in the face that can be damaged but you can do liposuction to the chin, and then you can treat pretty much anywhere from the neck down.

The most common areas for liposuction are the tummy, the waistline, the thighs, the buttocks, and then you can also use it for the knees and the upper arms. Those are the most common areas.

In men it’s very common to use liposuction for treatment for man boobs or gynecomastia."

Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital


How Much Fat Is Removed?

Liposuction normally only removes small quantities of fat using a cannula or a laser or even ultrasound, in particular areas of cosmetic significance and the positive effects to the bodily form can be excellent. It is normally safe to remove no more than 6 to 8 pounds or 3 to 4 litres of fat during any liposuction procedure.

The more fat that is removed during a liposuction procedure, the greater the risk of complications. If a patient wishes to remove more than the recommended amount of fat, then separate procedures will normally be scheduled with breaks of 3 to 4 weeks between each liposuction procedure.

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Liposculpture & Lipoplasty History

Also known as liposculpture or lipoplasty, this procedure has been in application since the 1970’s when doctors Giorgio and Arpad Fischer invented the procedure in 1974. 30 years of surgical and medical developments and enhancements have meant that more fat cells can more easily be removed, with less blood loss, less discomfort, and less risk throughout the procedure. However risks are part and parcel of any cosmetic surgery and those with diabetes, any infection, and heart or circulation problems will not qualify for surgery due to these potential patients being at increased risk of developing complications.

How Long Does The Procedure Usually Last?

The procedure generally lasts between 30 and 90 minutes depending on the area(s) covered. The most popular treatment areas include buttocks, neck, chin (submental), face, arms, abdomen, thighs, hips, love handles (flanks).

Traditionally the treatment involves removing fat from various locations of the body via a cannula, a hollow tube, and a suction device called an aspirator. Liposuction surgery can also be used to reduce breast size in men suffering from gynecomastia or can be performed to remove fat tumours (lipomas) in both men and women.

Due to advances in technology there are now several different techniques available including:

  • Dry Liposuction – Involves no fluid injection, this technique is hardly employed anymore.
  • Wet Liposuction – Involves injecting a small amount of fluid into the area to be treated, the amount of fluid injected will be considerably less than the fat removed. The fluid contains lidocaine as a local anaesthetic, adrenaline to contract the blood vessels and thus minimise bleeding, and a salt solution to make it saline.
  • Super-wet Liposuction – Involves using the same amount or more fluid than fat removed.
  • Tumescent Liposuction – Involves injecting a solution which contains a local anaesthetic and vasoconstrictor, typically lidocaine and epinephrine respectively, directly into the subcutaneous fat to be removed. The volume of fluid creates a space between the muscle and the fatty tissue allowing more room for the cannula to accurately extract the targeted fat with minimal aggravation to surrounding tissue.

Laser Liposuction

Laser liposuction involves using thermal energy to dissolve specifically targeted fatty deposits (Lipolysis). Once these cells have been broken down subsequently removed naturally using the body's lymphatic system or extracted with a gentle suction via a fine cannula which is inserted through the same incision.

The introduction of the Advanced Laser Lipo in many clinics as a lipo sculpting technique has the additional benefit of giving the option of the surgeon re-introducing the laser into the area being treated to trigger skin contraction with the aim to provide a firm and even final result.

Treatable Areas Tummy, thighs, bottom, hips
Anaesthetic Local
Discharge Time Discharge same day
Recovery Period 1-2 days
Compression Garment 1 week

VASER Liposuction

VASER (ultrasound-assisted) liposuction involves using a specialised cannula that emits ultrasound vibrations inside the body to disturb and emulsify fat cells. These emulsified fat cells are then easily removed using a specially designed cannula.

In recent years medical developments have led to non-surgical procedures in fat modelling. They provide options for patients to take advantage of cheaper liposuction as techniques are not invasive and involve using the very latest ultrasound and radio-frequency (RF) technology as well as shape-wear garments to help contour their body.

Treatable Areas Tummy, thighs, bottom, hips
Anaesthetic Local
Discharge Time Discharge same day
Recovery Period 1-2 days
Compression Garment 1 week

Before Liposuction

Approximately two weeks before the liposuction is carried out it is normal to have blood tests and body measurements taken together with photographs of the parts of the body to be treated. The doctor carrying out the procedure may request an Electrocardiogram and clearance from your normal doctor before treatment is carried out. It is also necessary for any anti-inflammatory pain relieve to be stopped for at least two weeks before the liposuction is carried out.

If the treatment requires you to undergo a general anaesthetic then the patient will be requested by your surgeon to refrain from eating or drinking for around 6 hours prior to surgery. A surgeon will then talk the patient through the procedure itself, what to expect before, during and after and any pain or discomfort that may occur. The surgeon will also give the patient the opportunity to pose questions regarding the treatment and help allay any uncertainties.

Next the surgeon and patient will talk through the areas that the prospective patient would like treating, marking out on the patient's body the areas that will be targeted. This will hopefully give the patient a realistic understanding of what can be achieved.

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After Liposuction

Each person will recover from liposuction in a different way and recovery will depend on the type of liposuction procedure undergone. It will take less time to recover from liposuction on somewhere such as the legs and arms than it will if the procedure is carried out on the face. Recovery time will also depend on the amount of fat that is removed and the size of the area being treated. Once the procedure has been done it is necessary to avoid any physical activities to allow the body to rest and recover.

Post treatment the targeted area will be securely wrapped in compression garments in an attempt to both improve the shape of results and reduce the swelling. If the patient has undergone a general anaesthetic then they will be required to rest and refrain from driving, operating heavy machinery, drinking alcohol for 24 hours.

A nurse will advise patients on after care and some mild pain killers may be prescribed to treat any discomfort.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Liposuction Surgery?

Liposuction is considered a safe treatment, however, it is important to realise that it is a medical procedure and that there are potential risks. It is a form of surgery, so the decision to undergo this procedure should not be taken lightly.

Most liposuction is carried out under local anaesthetic, but some procedures are carried out using a general anaesthetic, and some people can react badly. Embolisms are also a risk associated with all surgical procedures. With liposuction, some of the embolisms may be made up of fat.

Surgery also carries the risk of infection. For this reason, it is vital that you choose your clinic carefully. The risk will be negligible provided you use a clinic with good hygiene standards and remember to follow good wound care procedures once you get home.

Rarer side effects include burns (for ultrasound assisted liposuction) and loss of sensation in areas where nerves are present. Occasionally, areas of skin above the treated area can die off. The skin sloughs off and eventually renews itself, but it can result in long-term skin discolouration.

Younger Patients

In younger patients skin is more elastic, therefore, once the procedure has finished, skin can tighten up around the treated areas. This result is common place in liposuction in the arms and stomach areas where skin is known to tighten to its genetically predetermined position.

Older Patients

In older patients however, skin elasticity is not what it is in younger patients. Due to this, other cosmetic procedures, such as abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), rhytidectomy (facelift) and mastopexy (breast lift) are recommended as they will remove any excess skin left over from the surgery to help improve the results.

Can I Get Liposuction On The NHS?

Liposuction is not normally available on the NHS because it is mainly seen as a cosmetic procedure. However, occasionally it will be paid for when dealing with a medical issue that cannot be tackled in any other way. Such conditions include lymphedema, lipoma and lipodystrophy syndrome.

  • Lymphedema or lymphatic obstruction is where excess fluid gathers in areas of the body and causes very painful swelling. Some breast cancer patients experience this condition.
  • Lipoma is a condition where fatty lumps form in areas of the body. These lumps are non-cancerous, but can grow quite large and be quite debilitating.
  • Lipodystophy Syndrome is a rare condition that causes fat to be lost in some areas of the body and gather in others. This syndrome can develop as a side effect of medication. For example, certain HIV medications can cause fat to build up in the neck.

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