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What is Liposuction?

Dr. Wayne Carman
B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.S.C.


We all have an inherited body shape – more often than not, it is less than perfect. Liposuction is a surgical technique that permanently reduces areas of excess body fat permanently to achieve a more streamlined body contour. The procedure was originally developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Illouz in France and has become one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgical requests worldwide.

It has become so popular because it removes problem areas of fat that are resistant to weight loss and exercise. We are all born with a tendency to store fat in specific areas – for some it’s in the hips, for others tummy or thighs. Regardless, liposuction is a method to permanently change body contour in a way that simply cannot be done any other way. Liposuction has been performed for decades, and so has stood the test of time. It is not a fad, but rather a mainstay of our surgical approach to body contouring.

Most liposuction procedures that address significant areas are performed under general anesthetic. Saline solution is first injected into the fatty tissue. This is known as a “tumescent” approach. It is a technique used by most surgeons to minimize bleeding and swelling. Fat is then extracted through tiny incisions that are placed in inconspicuous areas. Patients are usually done as day surgery and are able to return to daily activities within a week.

Liposuction is best performed for patients who have problem areas that are resistant to weight loss and exercise. It is not a substitute for overall weight loss – trying to overdo liposuction to reduce excessive body mass is impractical and can be unnecessarily risky.

Patients who are only moderately over their ideal weight may still be able to consider liposuction. I often find that sculpting targeted areas gives patients an incentive to exercise more and eat a healthier diet – patients improve their shape, not only from the surgery, but also from the lifestyle changes that they adopt. It’s all about motivation. Liposuction is one of the resources available to help patients achieve the best possible appearance. Following a consultation appointment, I can provide an explanation of the surgical possibilities to help patients decide if the plastic surgical approach is right for them.

I am often asked if liposuction is safe. The answer is yes – there is nothing uniquely risky about liposuction. Remember though, it is a surgical operation, usually performed under a general anesthetic and requiring appropriate patient care before, during and after surgery. Inappropriate care will needlessly increase the risks of any operation. I really believe that anyone performing liposuction should have formal surgical training to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for patients. All of the staff at my private clinic, the Cosmetic Surgery Institute, are fully trained and qualified. As a Plastic Surgeon responsible for the care of my patients, I couldn’t accept anything less.