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Vacuum cleaner head representing a guide to liposuction

A guide to liposuction – which technique is right for you?

Written by
Chloe James

It’s been more than 40 years since liposuction first hit the surgical scene and, to this day, the procedure is still a staple in body shaping, slimming, and contouring – yet it’s almost unrecognisable from its original form.

While the basics remain the same – sucking and removing unwanted fat from the body – new techniques have cropped over the years to revolutionise liposuction with modern day technology. Forget visions of long recovery time and intense, side-effect-heavy surgery. New liposuction techniques are quicker and gentler than ever. But which one is right for you?

Find a clinic or practitioner near you and enjoy a risk-free booking process thanks to free in-clinic consultations and the option to pay in-clinic. Also, you can now split the cost of your treatment into four equal, interest-free instalments using Tabby.

What are the different kinds of liposuction?

Deciding you want to undergo liposuction is just the beginning. While every case revolves around eliminating stubborn fat, different techniques work better for certain scenarios. Whether you’re looking to tackle large or small pockets of fat, or just want to tighten a particular area of the body, here’s our guide to the different liposuction techniques.

Traditional liposuction

Best for: tackling large areas of fat

The original – and stronger than ever. Traditional liposuction works by breaking up and sucking fat from the body with a cannula, or a syringe if you’re treating a smaller, more precise area.

While it tends to come with the longest recovery time of any lipo technique, there’s a reason it’s still so popular. This is a tried-and-tested method – refined for four decades to shift stubborn fat in the belly, thighs, bum cheeks, and beyond.

The bulk of these refinements revolve around the cannula itself. Today, cannulas are narrower than before, allowing doctors to be more thorough without the risk of puckering the skin. This makes it ideal for anyone looking to tackle larger areas of fat.

Water-assisted liposuction

Best for: treating lipoedema

The way water-assisted liposuction differs from traditional lipo is how it breaks up fat cells. Water is, unsurprisingly, key. The procedure uses a water jet – not a cannula – to dislodge fat from tissue, making it easier to remove.

For this reason, it tends to have a relatively easy recovery period. However, its biggest benefit comes for lipoedema patients. Characterised by a disproportionate build-up of fat, it’s vital to treat lipoedema without damaging the surrounding tissue – which is exactly what water-assisted lipo does best.

Laser liposuction

Best for: skin tightening

Making its debut in the 1990s, laser lipo breaks down fat with (shock) a laser, and it’s then extracted from the body with a cannula. There’s no need to undergo full anaesthetic for this one, with the whole procedure only lasting around an hour before delivering instant results.

Like any kind of procedure, the benefit here is that less invasive equals quicker recovery. Laser lipo typically causes less bruising – and does a great job at multitasking. As it destroys fat, it also heats up cells to produce more collagen and tighten the skin. The result is an improvement in the overall contour and tone of the body.

Browse clinics offering liposuction.

Power-assisted liposuction

Best for: quick recovery and tough to treat areas

It should come as no surprise that power-assisted liposuction is powerful. Like regular liposuction, the technique (sometimes nicknamed PAL) uses a cannula to break down and extract fat. The difference is that the tip vibrates, so it works quicker – and more effectively – and fat requires less suction to remove.

As a result, downtime from power-assisted lipo tends to be quicker than traditional lipo. And, thanks to the use of the tumescent technique (which also injects anaesthetic into the area), fat transfer is smoother, leaving less bruising and causing minimal scarring.

For that reason, a lot of surgeons prefer to use this for trickier to treat areas – such as the inner thighs, mid-stomach, and male breasts.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction

Best for: precise removal and muscle definition

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction – sometimes known as vaser liposuction – relies on energy to liquify fat.

It’s way less physical than traditional liposuction, which presents its own pros and cons. On one hand, you don’t get the same instant results. This liquified fat is naturally extracted from the body over time as it’s broken down by the liver.

But on the other hand, you don’t need to undergo general anaesthetic, surgery takes an average of just two hours, and recovery is much quicker. There are also added benefits – it can also promote skin tightening thanks to ultrasound’s habit of boosting collagen production – and it can give smoother results in smaller areas.

If you’re looking for muscle definition, vaser is often used for a specific technique: high definition lipo. The technique is reserved for patients with very small amounts of fat – and relatively elasticated skin. It won’t remove as much volume as traditional lipo but is perfect for anyone looking to sculpt their underlying muscles.


Best for: body shaping

When it comes to removing fat, liposculpture isn’t so different from other techniques. Either power-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, or laser is used to break up and drain fat cells – but it’s what comes next that’s different.

Once fat is destroyed, surgeons use liposculpture to rearrange it and give you your desired shape. It can’t radically transform the entire body but is ideal for shifting very small pockets of fat and refining concentrated areas which already have pretty good muscle tone. Two concerns tackled in one.

Browse clinics offering liposculpture.

Advances all the time

Whichever method is best for you, trust that the techniques and technology involved in any liposuction procedure are developing all the time. Find a clinic near you today for a free consultation.

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