Skip to main content
Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section


Liposuction is a procedure used to remove excess fat deposits from areas of the body including the stomach, chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, the breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves and ankles.

Who are good candidates for liposuction?

The best candidates for liposuction are close to their normal weight but have pockets of excess fat in certain areas of their body. Having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final result. It is important to be aware that liposuction poses greater risk for men and women with medical problems such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, poor blood circulation, or those who have recently had surgery near the area to be worked on.

Does liposuction help with cellulite?

No, liposuction by itself will not improve the dimpled skin known as cellulite.

What happens during surgery?

A tiny incision is made in the skin in which a narrow tube, also called a cannula, is inserted and manipulated through the fat tissue, breaking up the fat cells. This rod is attached to a high-vacuum hose, which suctions out the unwanted fat. Fluid is removed along with the fat; the replacement of this fluid during the procedure is essential in preventing shock. When the desired amount of fat has been removed, the incisions are closed and dressings are applied.

What is the recovery time associated with liposuction?

Recovery from liposuction is a slow and gradual process.

Most patients are able and encouraged to move about after surgery to reduce swelling and help prevent blood clots from forming in the legs. Depending on the amount of fat removed, some patients may require a few extra days of bedrest. Most patients begin to feel better after one to two weeks and are able to return to work within one week.

Strenuous activity should be avoided for a month as your body continues to heal. Your physician might recommend a tight-fitting girdle to reduce swelling. Most of the bruising and swelling will disappear within a few weeks; however, some swelling may last up to six months.

Depending on the amount of swelling, you may be able to notice some of the results of the surgery immediately after the procedure. After four to six weeks, however, you'll notice a greater improvement, as most of the swelling and bruising will have subsided. After about three months, the final contour will be apparent.

Where will my surgery take place?

Most often, your procedure will be able to be done in our minor surgery suite. This procedure is done in the main operating room if you have too much excess skin or your muscles are very weak, requiring other procedures to go along with the liposuction. For both cost and convenience, our patients and physicians prefer the minor surgery suite. When not possible, however, the operating room is used and patients may require a hospital stay of one to three days.

What type of anesthesia is used?

If the procedure is not extensive, you may have a local anesthesia, which will numb the area being worked on. In addition, you will normally be given a sedative about 30 minutes prior to your surgery so that you are sleepy. Although you'll be awake while the procedure is being done, you will be relaxed and should only feel minor discomfort.

If the procedure involves a large area of your body (or a number of areas), you'll be given general anesthesia, which means that you'll sleep through the entire operation.

What are the risks?

With any surgery there are gong to be some risks. Some of the complications that may result from liposuction include uneven skin surface (especially with non-elastic skin), numbness, discoloration and fluid/blood accumulation under the skin. While liposuction is generally a safe procedure, the more areas that are treated, the more you're at risk for complications. We urge patients to be realistic about the limitations of the procedure and the desired outcomes.

Does liposuction leave any visible scars?

Any scars that result from the surgery are small and usually well hidden from view.

Contact Us