What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a minimally invasive surgical method of removing excess fat deposits to contour and reshape the body.

Also referred to as lipoplasty, lipectomy, or liposculpture, liposuction techniques and technologies have come a long way over the last 40 years. In fact, modern advancements in liposuction make it possible to target several different areas of the body to permanently remove fat from those areas, delivering exceptional results with less trauma and shorter recovery times.

Depending on your needs and objectives, liposuction may be performed alone or along with other procedures, like a tummy tuck, a breast lift, or even as part of a mommy makeover. In either case, liposuction results will typically last for those who maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.

Are you a good candidate for liposuction surgery?

A good candidate for liposuction is someone who:

  • Has not been able to get rid of unwanted fat with diet and exercise: Heredity, age, and childbirth can take a toll on the body and make some fat resistant to diet and exercise. That fat can be removed via liposuction.
  • Is close to their ideal body weight and are not obese: Liposuction is intended to be a body contouring technique and not a weight loss procedure. In other words, liposuction is not an alternative to diet and exercise, nor is it intended to treat obesity.
  • Has good skin and muscle tone: Firm, elastic skin covering nicely toned muscles will respond best to liposuction, adapting nicely to the new shape of the body. On the other hand, loose skin and muscle tone can result in insufficient retraction, providing poorer results.

To find out if you are a good candidate for liposuction — and to determine your best option, based on your needs and objectives — simply schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael A. Horn.

liposuction patient model in black lingerie leaning against a wall
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How is liposuction performed?

Liposuction is generally performed via the following process:

  • Local or general anesthesia is administered to the patient.
  • Small incisions are strategically made in the area targeted for fat removal.
  • A tube ("cannula") is inserted into the incisions.
  • The fatty tissues are broken up by moving the cannula back and forth. Depending on the type of liposuction performed, this may also involve the use of a laser, vibrations, ultrasound, or a specially designed solution.
  • The cannula is used to contour the body and remove fat with a surgical vacuum or syringe.
  • Once fat has been removed, the cannula is removed, and the incisions are sutured.
  • Some patients may be placed in compression garments immediately after liposuction.

Liposuction is typically an outpatient surgery, meaning patients usually return home the same day as their procedure.

What types of liposuction are available?

Many types of liposuction techniques are available, including (but not limited to):

  • Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL): Liquifying fat with a laser, LAL is an innovative liposuction technique that can shorten recovery times for some patients.
  • Power-assisted liposuction (PAL): Incorporating vibrations to break up fatty tissues, PAL can be a highly efficient method of removing fat while creating smoother contours.
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Similar to PAL, UAL uses sound waves (instead of vibrations) to bust up fat deposits and facilitate their removal from the body.
  • Tumescent liposuction: A special solution is injected into the fatty tissues to numb and inflame them, so they can be broken up, removed, and sculpted more precisely.
  • Water-jet-assisted liposuction (WJAL): As a newer liposuction technology, WJAL involves using gentle jet streams to bust up fat in a painless way that is minimally traumatizing to the body.
  • Traditional liposuction: Also referred to as suction-assisted liposuction (SAL), traditional liposuction uses incisions, tubing, and suction to break up fat and remove it from the body. Generally, traditional liposuction is associated with more bruising, longer recoveries, and less spectacular results than many of the newer techniques and technologies.

Chicago plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael A. Horn works closely with each patient to hand-select the liposuction technique that will best support their treatment goals.

liposuction patient model at the beach in a black swimsuit

What areas can be treated with liposuction?

Many areas of the body can be treated with liposuction, including (but not limited to) the:

  • Abdomen: The soft belly fat lying between the abdominal wall and the skin (subcutaneous fat) can be removed via liposuction.
  • Arms: Targeting sagging upper arms, liposuction can get rid of fat and flab to restore a firmer, more youthful-looking arm, particularly when the arms are being held out or up.
  • Face and neck: The cheeks, chin, and jawline can all gain far more definition with face and neck liposuction, eliminating double chins, jowls, and other areas of unwanted facial and neck fat.
  • Back and chest: Back fat folding the skin, as well as undesired fat in the chest region, can also be targeted by liposuction techniques. In fact, male breast tissue removal is one of the more popular reasons men seek out chest liposuction.
  • Hips, waist, and buttocks: Targeting the lower abdomen, liposuction can shrink the buttocks and waistline while defining the hips better and improving the body's overall proportions.
  • Legs: The thighs, knees, and calves can also be targeted in liposuction, slimming down ankles, shrinking inner and outer thigh lines, and creating a more attractive, dainty leg line.

Keep in mind that liposuction will not directly treat stretch marks, cellulite, or other skin surface issues. If those also need to be addressed, your surgeon can recommend the most appropriate combination of techniques to help you achieve your aesthetic objectives.

What is the difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck?

Liposuction removes fat, while a tummy tuck removes excess skin and tightens the abdominal wall. That means that:

  • Liposuction will not, on its own, involve trimming excess skin or repairing damaged abdominal muscles.
  • A tummy tuck, on its own, will not involve fat removal.

While some patients can benefit from liposuction or a tummy tuck alone, many see better results by combining these body contouring procedures. For instance, after childbirth, patients with unwanted fat and excess skin may benefit from combining liposuction with a tummy tuck to contour and firm up their abdomen while repairing damaged abdominal muscles.

During an initial consultation, Dr. Michael A. Horn can share more details about the options and advise you on which of the techniques will best fit your needs and goals.

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Why choose Dr. Horn for your liposuction procedure?

Choose Dr. Michael A. Horn because you want an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in providing:

  • State-of-the-art liposuction techniques and technologies, giving you the full array of options in a safe, comfortable, friendly environment
  • Exceptional care and total comfort before, during, and after your liposuction
  • The finest aesthetic results, helping you obtain a more gorgeous figure

As one of the most sought-after liposuction surgeons in the Midwest, Dr. Horn has more than 20 years of experience performing cosmetic procedures while offering patient-focused care. That is why Dr. Horn is widely recognized for his mastery, skill, and dedication to his patients, as well as his long-standing record of amazing results.

What should you expect during liposuction surgery?

Liposuction surgery will be scheduled after an initial consultation and some medical testing. During the procedure, you can expect:

  • Anesthesia, with local or general anesthesia administered, depending on the liposuction technique being performed
  • A comfortable experience, with no pain during the procedure and some soreness, treated with medication, afterward
  • Hidden incisions, with Dr. Horn placing incisions in the most discrete areas
  • Outpatient surgery, so you will be going home once the procedure has been completed, with detailed recovery instructions in hand

Depending on the type of liposuction technique and the area of the body targeted, the procedure can last anywhere from 30 minutes to about 3 or 4 hours.

liposuction patient model in green swimsuit at the beach

How is liposuction recovery?

Bandages will be placed around the treated areas as soon as liposuction has been finished. From there, recovery tends to involve:

  • Wearing compression garments to reduce inflammation and promote skin retraction
  • Taking oral pain medication to reduce pain, discomfort, inflammation, and bruising
  • Maintaining light to minimal physical activity shortly after surgery
  • Avoiding strenuous activity until the surgeon gives you the all-clear to resume it

In many cases, liposuction patients can:

  • Start driving once they stop taking prescription pain medication
  • See their bruising and swelling start to dissipate within ten days of the procedure
  • Go back to work within 2 to 3 days if they have not had more extensive liposuction or multiple procedures (or return to work within a week or so if they have undergone more comprehensive liposuction)

Modern liposuction technologies have vastly improved recovery times for patients while delivering smoother, more attractive results.

What are the risks associated with liposuction surgery?

Liposuction, like any surgery, can carry some risk. However, serious complications are rare. In general, liposuction risks can include (and are not necessarily limited to):

  • Bruising and inflammation
  • Changes in sensation in the targeted area
  • Contouring irregularities
  • Scarring

If patients experience these side effects, most will dissipate with time, especially if patients carefully follow all post-operative care instructions.

Dr. Michael A. Horn and his team take great care to minimize liposuction risks and explain post-operative care so that you have optimal opportunities to achieve the gorgeous results you want. For more on post-operative care after liposuction,click here.

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How much does liposuction surgery cost in Chicago?

On average, the cost of liposuction in Chicago typically starts at about $3,637, according to the latest information from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). That cost does not include:

  • Pre-op lab testing
  • Anesthesia
  • Facility or hospital fees
  • Compression garments and medications (for recovery)

Additionally, with liposuction costs, it's important to be aware that:

  • Surgeon fees can vary by experience, the type of liposuction procedure, and whether you combine liposuction with other procedures.
  • While health insurance does not typically cover liposuction, financing may be available.
  • Your surgeon can explain the costs, so there are no surprises, and you know what to expect regarding price points.

If you are interested in getting a specific quote for liposuction Chicago plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael A. Horn can discuss that and answer any questions or concerns you have during a consultation. Contact us today.

What alternatives exist to liposuction?

Liposuction can be just one option for removing fat and reshaping the body. Alternatives can include:

Dr. Michael Horn can explain the available options and answer your questions, recommending the best techniques during an initial consultation. That can help you make an informed decision about your care.

Patient Testimonial

"I recently (April 2021) had surgery with Dr. Michael Horn & am absolutely elated with not only the results, but the entire process. After losing 110+lbs, I had an extended tummy tuck & some liposuction in stubborn areas. Dr. Horn walked me through the procedure, answered all of my questions, and helped me feel comfortable & confident. His office staff were also key in my success - from answering a million questions, to keeping late appointments available for me, and beyond. It's now 6+ weeks past my surgery & I feel extremely confident in my body - both in & out of clothing. Dr. Horn & his team made this an experience that I could, can & do recommend to my friends."

Liposuction FAQs

Liposuction (lipoplasty) can eliminate stubborn, unwanted fat to redefine your curves and dramatically reshape your figure. By removing fatty tissues and contouring targeted areas of the body, liposuction can enhance your proportions while transforming your appearance and confidence.

The FAQs below share key information about liposuction to give you a better idea of what to expect from the procedure and recovery.

Whenever you are ready for professional recommendations regarding what may be best for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael A. Horn, a board-certified plastic surgeon. He can explain the available options, answer your questions, and recommend the best liposuction techniques based on your needs and objectives.

Tumescent liposuction, also known as "local lipo," is a technique that uses microtubing, a saline solution, and local anesthetic to safely remove fat from various parts of the body.

With incisions and tubing (cannula) smaller than those used in other lipoplasty techniques, tumescent liposuction can be:

  • A safer, less invasive alternative to traditional lipo, speeding up recovery times while delivering beautiful results
  • Best suited for men and women who need less fat removed from a small, distinct treatment area

Power-assisted liposuction (PAL), another alternative to traditional lipo, involves the use of a vibrating cannula to help break up and remove fatty tissues.

The vibrations are highly effective at breaking fat down into smaller, easier-to-remove sizes. Consequently, when compared to traditional liposuction, PAL can result in:

  • Less bruising and tissue damage
  • Shorter procedures
  • Faster recovery times
  • Greater precision in fat removal and body contouring

Good candidates for power-assisted liposuction are patients who want to get rid of diet- and exercise-resistant fat virtually anywhere on their body, as well as those who need a "touch-up" treatment to improve contouring issues left behind from previous procedures.

Lipo 360 refers to fat removal around the entire midsection of the body, circling around the front, sides, and back of the abdomen. Offering a more comprehensive technique to eliminate stubborn back and belly fat, lipo 360 can shrink and reshape your waistline to:

  • Flatten your stomach
  • Eliminate love handles
  • Redefine your midsection and overall proportions

More involved than other liposuction techniques, lipo 360 can be performed alone or along with other procedures, like a breast lift, tummy tuck, etc.

After your procedure you should immediately notice the treated areas look slimmer as fat has been removed from the area. You could start seeing your full liposuction results anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months after the procedure.

The type of liposuction you get, as well as your health and post-operative care practices, can impact how soon you start seeing results.

Downtime depends on how extensive the treatment is and what type of liposuction you undergo. For minimally invasive procedures done on small areas of the body, patients can be back at work within 2 to 3 days. Others who have had more extensive liposuction may have to wait a week or longer before returning to work.

Additionally, strenuous activities should be avoided after liposuction until your surgeon gives you the green light to resume these activities.

Compression garments are state-of-the-art wearables made from flexible, strong synthetic fabrics. Wearing compression garments after liposuction can:

  • Apply pressure to the body
  • Reduce bruising and scarring
  • Prevent fluid buildup and discomfort
  • Promote healing and the best possible results

Depending on the area of the body treated, the compression garments worn after liposuction may include (and are not limited to):

  • Shorts
  • Stockings
  • Leggings
  • Arm stockings
  • Girdle-style garments
  • Waist-to-knee garments
  • Full bodysuits

Compression garments typically need to be worn around the clock for about 6 to 8 weeks following liposuction (with garments only being removed to shower during this period). Please be aware, however, that:

  • Garment-wearing time-frames vary by procedure and patient.
  • Your surgeon can explain exactly how long you need to wear compression garments based on your individual circumstances and needs.

Yes, liposuction can have permanent results, and the fat that is removed is removed for good if a patient maintains a healthy weight.

Yes, certain types of liposuction can be performed with a local anesthetic. Generally, this occurs when liposuction is localized to a small, discrete area of the body.

For more extensive procedures, general anesthesia is typically administered.

Liposuction results can last as long as patients keep a healthy weight. However, dramatic weight gain can diminish the results of liposuction.

Weight gain after liposuction can result in the development of new fatty tissues, as well as the expansion of existing fat cells. That can mean that:

  • Fat develops in the areas treated by liposuction and in other areas of the body.
  • Fat develops in the areas treated by liposuction and in other areas of the body.
  • The areas treated by liposuction can end up with less fat accumulation.
  • Liposuction results can be diminished, but they won't necessarily fade entirely.

Keep in mind that a couple of pounds may not matter for most patients. However, the amount of weight gain that impacts liposuction results will vary based on the patient's stature and ideal weight.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because fat removal will vary by patient, procedure, and the area of the body treated. While that fat removal can cause patients to drop weight, it's important to remember that:

  • Liposuction is a body contouring procedure and NOT a weight loss procedure.
  • The best candidates for liposuction will be someone who is at or close to their ideal weight and NOT those who need to lose a lot of weight.

So, if losing weight is the main reason you are considering liposuction, consult with Dr. Michael A. Horn to find out what better options may be available.

Eighteen years old is generally the minimum age for liposuction. That said, age is just one of the criteria for determining liposuction candidacy. Other factors, from a patient's health to their muscle and skin tone, are evaluated during the initial consultation with the surgeon.

After assessing all relevant factors, the surgeon can explain whether liposuction is right for you and, if so, which technique best suits your needs and objectives.

Anesthesia is used during liposuction to minimize pain and discomfort during the procedure. Depending on the type of lipoplasty performed, patients may receive:

  • General anesthesia: This will put you to sleep so that you are unconscious during the procedure.
  • Local anesthesia: Leaving you awake for the procedure, local anesthesia will numb a specific area of the body. Consequently, there may be slight discomfort within the first 10 minutes of receiving local anesthesia. However, once that drug takes effect, you will feel minimal sensation in the treatment area during the surgery.

Following liposuction, patients may experience some temporary post-operative pain and inflammation. This can be easily treated with oral pain medicine and other post-operative care.

Dr. Michael A. Horn uses the most advanced techniques and technologies to make patients as comfortable as possible during liposuction.

Liposuction swelling can be treated by carefully following all post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon. Those instructions can involve (but may not be limited to) temporarily:

  • Taking oral pain medication
  • Wearing specialized garments or binders

You will also have a few follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor swelling and ensure proper healing.

This is another patient-specific factor, as swelling can fade faster or persist longer based on an individual's health, the procedure, and the post-operative care a patient follows.

That said, some patients can see their swelling start to reduce about ten days after their procedure. For others, however, it may take a bit longer.

If you had a less invasive procedure localized to a smaller area of the body, you may be able to go back to work within 2 to 3 days of undergoing liposuction.

For patients who have undergone more extensive or comprehensive procedures, it may be necessary to wait at least a week before returning to work after liposuction.

Liposuction will not affect the ability to get pregnant, and getting pregnant after lipo will not necessarily destroy the results of this body contouring procedure. In fact, many women who get pregnant after liposuction will still enjoy the results of their procedure, with some even appearing as though no pregnancy occurred at all.

Nevertheless, those considering liposuction should be aware that:

  • Ideally, liposuction should be pursued when women are done having children.
  • Pregnancy can result in skin surface issues that liposuction does not address. Those can include skin sagging, cellulite, and stretch marks.

Some patients can see their swelling start to reduce about ten days after their procedure. For others, however, it may take a bit longer.

Liposuction is not designed to eliminate cellulite. Still, liposuction may subtly improve the appearance of cellulite in some patients, especially those with good muscle and skin tone.

If your aesthetic goals are focused on cellulite reduction instead of fat removal and body contouring, Dr. Michael A. Horn can explain your best options during an initial consultation.

Liposuction incisions are tiny, and they are placed in areas that can be easily hidden to minimize their visibility. Additionally, the incision marks will fade over time, becoming inconspicuous and paling in comparison to the final outcome and patients' new appearance.

To minimize scarring and promote healing, Dr. Horn uses innovative liposuction techniques and technologies, tailoring them to each patient to promote optimal results.

There is no definitive cutoff point for fat removal in liposuction, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Nevertheless, removing larger quantities of fatty tissues can increase the risks of complications.

As a result, current ASPS guidelines indicate that 5,000 milliliters — which is 5 liters or about 10 to 11 pounds — should be used as the upper limit for "large-volume liposuction".

With all that in mind, it's crucial to understand that liposuction is not a weight-loss procedure or a surgical weight loss solution. Instead, the focus of liposuction is body contouring for those who are close to their target weight.

No. Liposuction should not be used in place of or for the purpose of weight loss. Instead, liposuction is intended to:

  • Remove fat that cannot be lost through diet and exercise
  • Reshape and redefine certain areas of the body
  • Slim and contour certain features on those who are near their ideal weight

The amount of weight patients lose after lipo depends on the procedure(s) they undergo and the area(s) of the body treated. With that said, patients are typically encouraged to focus on the figure, shape, and proportions they want from liposuction, rather than the amount of weight they'll drop after the procedure.

The fat eliminated by liposuction will only return with weight gain from excessive caloric intake. In other words, if you exercise, eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight, you likely won't see the fat return, and you can enjoy the results of liposuction for years.