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What is Liposculpture?

Jessica Ellis
Updated: May 17, 2024

Liposculpture is an alternative, minimally invasive form of liposuction pioneered in the late 20th century. Rather than using large incisions to remove fat from the body, liposculpture uses small suction mechanism to target specific fat deposits under the skin. The procedure is used to contour or fine tune areas of the body, rather than to completely resculpt it.

The theory behind this cosmetic procedure was postulated by Italian doctor Arpad Fischer in the 1970s. Early experiments were conducted over the next decade by a French doctor, Pierre Fournier. With the invention of the tumescent technique in the late 1980s by Dr. Jeffery Klein, the procedure gained popularity in Australia and spread throughout Europe and America.

The tumescent technique is a vital part of the liposculpting procedure. In this process, a saline-based local anesthetic is injected under the skin in the desired areas, causing the fat to swell and become higher in liquid content. Additionally, the saline solution numbs the area, removing the necessity of a general anesthetic, although some additional pain-killing or numbing drugs may be provided. The softened fat is then suctioned out through minimally invasive syringes or metal suction tubes called cannulae.

Liposculpting is recommended by proponents as a way to remove or mitigate fat deposits that will not go away, despite diet and exercise. These fat deposits are often a result of genetics, and can be difficult to get rid off without cosmetic surgery. However the procedure can only remove a limited amount of fat per session, so heavier patients may need more than one treatment. Liposculpture is not meant as a weight-loss surgery, as fat is light and the suction procedure may not remove more than a few ounces.

One of the reasons for liposculpture’s popularity is that it is an outpatient procedure. Some doctors administer no pain-killing drugs other than the tumescent solution, and allow their patients to drive home after the procedure. Recovery time is usually only one or two days, with the patient being able to resume normal activity after this time. However, severity of the procedure and the prescribed medications vary from doctor to doctor. If you are planning to have liposculpture, follow your physician’s orders.

Side effects from the procedure include localized swelling, bruising and pain in the targeted areas that will usually subside after a few days. Leakage of fluid from the injection sites is common during the first 48 hours, and some doctors provide plastic sheeting to place on your bed to prevent stains. Infection and allergic reaction are possible consequences of liposculpture, and any signs of these effects should be medically treated at once.

Liposculpture is not a foolproof method. Much of the result is based on the composition of fat in the patient’s body. Some people with genetic predispositions towards highly fibrous fat may not experience much reduction in fat. Also, the ability of the skin to reform over the new contours varies from person to person. Skin sagging over the treated areas is possible, especially in older patients and those with low collagen levels.

As with any surgery, liposculpture should be thoroughly researched before you decide to try it. Consult with your personal physician before undergoing this or any procedure, and be sure to research the doctor performing the suction. Because this procedure is not considered plastic surgery, some doctors who offer it may not be licensed in cosmetic procedures.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By Nefertini — On Feb 16, 2014

@ Ceptorbi - you're correct. Laser liposculpture offers a less invasive option since it needs smaller incisions and is done under a local anesthetic rather than general anesthesia. The laser heat liquefies the fat, making it easier to suction out. This technique results in less side effects like bruises. Also, the laser can target the fat more specifically than traditional liposuction methods and can reach places like the chin or neck that aren't accessible by other methods.

By Ceptorbi — On Feb 15, 2014

It's my understanding that, due to post-surgical swelling, it may take a couple of weeks or even months to see the full liposculpture results. I've also heard that laser liposculpture is available now.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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