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Liposuction, also called lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy, removes deposits of excess fat from specific areas of your body. The liposuction procedure can slim your hips and thighs, flatten your abdomen, reshape your waist, and even eliminate a double chin.

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Everyone has stubborn pockets of fat, but it’s virtually impossible to target specific areas with diet and exercise. Liposuction is one of the few ways to see meaningful fat reduction in stubborn areas, producing a slimmer, more defined look.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction, also called lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy, removes excess fat deposits from specific areas of your body. Liposuction can slim your hips and thighs, flatten your abdomen, reshape your waist, and even eliminate a double chin. It works by inserting special surgical tools through a tiny entry point in the skin, suctioning away fatty tissue. Once the fat is removed, it won’t return as long as you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Vaser Liposuction

Vaser liposuction is an advanced form of liposuction that uses specialized ultrasound energy in the form of a vibrating tool to disrupt the bonds between fat cells, ultimately allowing them to be more easily removed. Vaser liposuction can be more precise than traditional liposuction, making it a better option for thinner patients who want to treat smaller, more detailed areas. It can also be used for larger areas in patients interested in fat grafting.

Liposuction Benefits

There are many benefits to liposuction. Some of the top benefits include:

  • Improved body contours: Liposuction can bring out natural body contours, revealing muscle tone and creating a more defined look.
  • Minimal recovery: Liposuction involves minimal recovery versus more extensive body contouring procedures.
  • Boosted confidence: If you’ve consistently struggled with stubborn fat in specific areas, liposuction can help boost your confidence and expand wardrobe options.
  • Long-lasting results: As long as you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, you can enjoy long-lasting results from liposuction.

Who is a Candidate for Liposuction or Smartlipo at CARE Plastic Surgery?

The ideal liposuction candidate has localized areas of excess fat, otherwise normal body weight, and good skin elasticity. They are also free of any complications or preexisting medical conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, skin/connective tissue disorders, etc. Liposuction is not successful in treating generalized obesity. Patients who are generally overweight but exhibit unsightly bulges of fat may be candidates for the treatment of these areas alone. Localized fat deposits may sometimes be an inherited trait and often do not respond to diet or exercise. In these cases, liposuction is often the only way to eliminate fat.

Because liposuction does not reduce the amount of skin or address muscle tightening, optimal results are often obtained in those patients with good skin elasticity. Young patients typically have skin that readily contracts to the underlying frame. That said, pleasing and satisfactory results can also be obtained in older patients with somewhat less skin elasticity. Patients with more skin laxity and poor elasticity may benefit from removing the excess skin to achieve the intended results. This might include tummy tucks, arm lifts, breast lifts, and buttock lifts. To determine if your skin elasticity is appropriate for liposuction, schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian Coan.

In the Raleigh, Durham, and Cary areas, liposuction is now nearly as common for men as for women. The areas most often treated are:

  • Abdomen
  • Hips and waist
  • Chest – Male and Female
  • Flanks and back
  • Upper arms
  • Inner, outer, and anterior thighs
  • Under the chin – double chin
  • Buttocks
  • Face
  • Knees

Liposuction Combination Procedures

Liposuction is easily combined with other procedures to enhance results. Some of the most popular combination procedures include:

Fat Transfer

Fat transfer allows you to move fat from one area to another. Liposuction can collect fatty tissue and allow Dr. Coan to inject it into areas like the face, breasts, or butt to further enhance your figure and restore youthfulness.

Tummy Tuck

The tummy tuck addresses the stomach, removing excess skin and restoring separated abdominal muscles. Liposuction can provide additional benefits by contouring and defining the surrounding areas, such as the hips or thighs.

Mommy Makeover

The mommy makeover combines multiple procedures to reverse the effects of pregnancy. Liposuction is a common accompaniment to options like the tummy tuck or breast augmentation to more fully address areas impacted by childbearing.


BodyTite is a minimally invasive skin tightening procedure. Although it can reduce fat, liposuction can more effectively address larger pockets. This can be an effective combination for patients who want to avoid more extensive body contouring surgery.

Is it Possible to Have Breast Augmentation at the Same Time as Liposuction?

Liposuction can frequently be done safely in combination with other cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. We recommend that you first seek a consultation from a plastic surgeon who is trained, experienced, and knowledgeable in all fields of cosmetic surgery and understands the physiological implications on the body.

Should I Have a Plastic Surgeon Do My Liposuction?

Liposuction is by far one of the most common aesthetic procedures performed. Because it seems a simple concept to remove fat, it is an area open for marketing tactics that overplay its simplicity and long-term surgical results. Therefore, beware of doctors who promote liposuction but are not trained plastic surgeons. If too much fat is removed with liposuction, you can be left with irregular contours and sagging skin. When fat is removed from the main area without attention to surrounding areas, you may be left with unevenness.

How is Liposuction Performed by a Plastic Surgeon?

Through tiny incisions, a narrow tube or cannula is inserted and used to vacuum the fat layer deep beneath the skin. The cannula breaks up the fat cells and suctions them out, permanently removing them.

Liposuction Procedure

Liposuction is typically performed using local anesthesia, although you may require general anesthesia if you combine it with other options. Dr. Coan will create a small entry point in the skin, through which a special surgical tool will be inserted. Once the fat is carefully removed through gentle suction, the entry point is closed, and you can return home.

Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction recovery is typically minimal, with patients returning to work and light activities within one to two weeks. Most important is wearing a compression garment on the area to help the skin adhere to the new contours and reduce swelling and fluid buildup. Dr. Coan will provide detailed aftercare instructions on healing and follow-up.

Results of Liposuction

It takes time to see full results from liposuction since swelling can take a few months to fully subside. After the swelling goes down, however, you’ll see a noticeable improvement in definition and contours. Liposuction results are permanent as long as you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you put to sleep for liposuction?

Liposuction can be performed using a local anesthetic or general anesthetic depending on factors like your preferences and whether you combine your procedure with any others. Dr. Coan can help you select the best option during your consultation.

Can I get liposuction if I am overweight?

The best candidates for liposuction have good skin quality and are typically in their 20s-30s. This is because these patients tend to have better skin elasticity, meaning their skin is better able to “snapback” after fat removal via liposuction. However, this certainly does not rule out those outside this age range, and determining candidacy for liposuction is very patient-dependent. Additionally, someone who is considered overweight (a BMI between 25-30) may certainly be a candidate for liposuction, depending on their health history, goal weight, and skin quality.

Can visceral fat be removed?

Liposuction procedures target subcutaneous fat reduction. Diet and exercise are the only means of reducing visceral fat.

Does liposuction get rid of cellulite?

Liposuction targets subcutaneous fat but does not address or correct skin concerns such as laxity or cellulite. Liposuction is optimal for patients who are close to their goal weight with great skin quality.

How can I avoid weight gain after surgery?

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine post-operatively can help you maintain your tideal weight. We recommend patients avoid exercise for 6 weeks following surgery. After that, tthere are no limitations! It is important to find what works best for you and your lifestyle.

How dangerous is liposuction?

With any surgery, there are always risks and benefits to consider. Our double board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Coan, does everything possible to minimize risks before, during, and after surgery. Specifically, he abides by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons guidelines to ensure optimal safety standards. Common and uncommon complications during liposuction include swelling, bruising, bleeding, seroma, sensation changes and dysesthesia, asymmetry, and contour irregularities.

How do I prepare for liposuction?

The best way to prepare for liposuction surgery is to be at or close to your goal weight. We recommend patients maintain a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise routines.

How long do you drain after lipo?

It is very rare to use postoperative drains after liposuction alone. In the rare event drains are required, the duration can vary from patient to patient. In most cases, liposuction can be safely performed without the use of drains.

How long do you need off work after liposuction?

While it depends on the nature of one's job, most patients need no more than 1-2 weeks off of work after a procedure. Many of our patients can resume a desk job as soon as they are comfortable and are no longer taking narcotic pain medication. However, activity restrictions after surgery include no lifting, pushing, or pulling any object over 20 pounds for 6 weeks. For those with physically demanding jobs, we strongly encourage patients to be placed on “light duty” when returning to work. At 6 weeks, patients can resume any and all activities, including exercise.

How much does liposuction cost without insurance?

Liposuction costs may vary depending on the number of areas addressed. While liposuction is not covered under insurance, CARE offers a multitude of financing options for patients to utilize, such as CareCredit, Alphaeon, and PatientFi.

How painful is liposuction recovery?

The majority of our patients find liposuction to be a manageable procedure regarding pain. The recovery often entails soreness and achiness rather than severe pain. We find that patients have a much easier and more comfortable recovery if they stay on top of their hydration with adequate water intake within the first few days after surgery. We also encourage a high protein/low sodium diet to mitigate post-operative swelling and fluid retention as much as possible.

Is Lipo permanent?

Yes, liposuction can be considered permanent given there are no major lifestyle changes, and patients maintain their weight after surgery. It is important to note liposuction is not a weight loss procedure, nor does it prevent weight gain post-operatively. A consistent diet and exercise routine is critical to maintaining the best aesthetic results after surgery. While no cosmetic procedure is truly “permanent” since we all continue aging, your results after liposuction can be long-lasting if there are no major lifestyle changes.

Is liposuction an outpatient procedure?

Yes! Liposuction is an outpatient procedure. CARE Plastic Surgery utilizes two state-of-the-art, fully accredited operating rooms for a private surgical experience. Patients are then discharged to go home the same day. We typically see patients in-office the next day for their first post-operative appointment.

What is the best type of liposuction?

There are a variety of known liposuction methods. Dr. Coan utilizes Power Assisted Liposuction for effective and precise fat extraction. This method is safe, effective, and yields optimal aesthetic results. With any cosmetic procedure, it is imperative to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Can the removed fat be transferred anywhere else?

Depending on your aesthetic goals, fat can be transferred to many different areas of the body, the most common being the buttocks, breasts, face, hands, and elsewhere.

Who is a good candidate for liposuction?

The ideal liposuction candidate is in their 20s to early 40s, a nonsmoker, and has good skin quality and elasticity. We recommend patients being within 10 pounds of their ideal weight. However, a thorough examination and assessment with our double-board certified plastic surgeon can help you determine if liposuction is the best option for you and your goals. Different body areas also can be expected to respond differently to liposuction. Some areas such as the upper back, flanks, and even abdomen tend to be the most forgiving and allow for the most dramatic improvements. Other areas require excellent elastic skin quality to achieve ideal outcomes.

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Real Testimonials

I am so happy with my results! This entire experience could not have been better! Dr. Coan and his staff are amazing and so caring! They answered all of my questions and made the process very pleasant! I am so happy with the way my body looks. Thank you Dr. Coan & Staff!

- Verified Care Plastic Surgery Patient

Dear Dr. Coan, Heartfelt thanks for your TLC and excellent skills ~ especially your knowledge and appreciation of micro-surgical techniques! Your feedback gave me a lot of confidence and assurance regarding my healing process. I am slowly re-introducing activity, and feeling great. Mary Ann

- Verified Care Plastic Surgery Patient

I am always impressed with Dr. Coan’s skill. He is an exceptional physician and person whose approach is always honest, attentive and intelligent.

- Verified Care Plastic Surgery Patient

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