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Woman's body to represent liposuction

All you need to know about liposuction - the effects and risks

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Chris Reuter from Amaryllis Polyclinic

You’ve probably already heard of traditional liposuction, the cosmetic procedure that uses a cannula to remove small, stubborn pockets of fat from areas like the belly, thighs and bum cheeks. But over the years many different techniques have emerged, from laser lipo to water assisted liposuction, power assisted liposuction and vaser liposuction – each with their own benefits.

Although these newer lipo techniques are rising in popularity, traditional liposuction surgery is still considered the best by many, given its solid track record of success. But how does it work? What are the effects and risks? And is it right for you?

Fast facts

  • Best results

    1 procedure

  • Duration of results


  • Back to work

    1 week

  • Full recovery time

    1 to 3 months

  • Price range

    10,000 SAR to 25,000 SAR

  • Treatment duration

    1 to 3 hours

  • Comfort

    Local or general anaesthetic

  • Treatment type

    Minimally invasive

What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that sucks fat out of the body.

It is tailor-made for helping people get rid of excess fat from those hard-to-lose areas, so they can work towards achieving their desired body shape.

Liposuction is not a substitute for losing weight though, so do bear that in mind.

How does liposuction work?

This process typically takes between one and three hours, depending on the size of the area being treated.

Prior to treatment

An initial consultation will allow you to understand the procedure in depth and ask any questions. Always seek out a trained, experienced practitioner.

When going for the liposuction itself, your doctor will mark up the body areas to be treated – whether that’s your belly, bum or legs. You will receive either a local or general anaesthetic depending on the extent of the treatment, and to prevent any blood loss, bruising or swelling.

The procedure

Traditional liposuction surgery uses a tube called a cannula, which is inserted into the body through tiny cuts in the skin. The cannula loosens the fat, and then sucks it out.


The fat is removed using a powerful suction device, which is attached to the cannula. On smaller or more delicate areas, such as the neck, a syringe is sometimes used instead.

Final steps

Once the fat has been removed, any excess fluid will be drained, and the incisions are then stitched up. You’ll usually be given compression bandages to wear for several weeks after your operation to help reduce any bruising.

Liposuction risks

Does it hurt?

The procedure itself is usually completely painless, as you will be under anaesthetic. Afterwards, however, you can expect some discomfort for a few days – though pain relief and sedatives should help keep it to a minimum.

What are the side-effects of liposuction?

As with any type of surgery, there are a few side-effects you may experience, including:

  • Scarring – some visible scarring may be present, which fades over time.
  • Bruising – there may be some bruising, which can last for up to six months.
  • Numbness – feeling in the area may be reduced for up to eight weeks after treatment.
  • Inflammation – expect some inflammation of the treated area.
  • Swelling – sometimes areas such as the ankles or legs can swell after treatment.

Remember to wear your compression garment as advised by your doctor, take any inflammatory or pain relief medication you are prescribed, and always consult your clinician if you are concerned about anything. Applying ice packs to bruising several days after the treatment may also help, while elevating the body area that’s been treated may act to reduce swelling.

Who is it most suitable for?

If you’ve got tight skin and are almost (within 30 lbs) at your goal weight, then you’re the ideal candidate for liposuction.

What are the risks?

Liposuction is one of the most common procedures in the world and is carried out safely every day. However, all surgery comes with some risks and liposuction’s include:

  • Blood clots.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Uneven results.
  • Skin discolouration.
  • Loss of feeling.
  • Damage to internal organs.

Using an experienced clinician will help lower the chances of these. Talk to your practitioner about potential complications before your surgery, and discuss how they would deal with these, should they occur.

Alternatives to traditional liposuction

There are many natural ways to reduce body fat, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet. However, if you have stubborn pockets of fat and traditional lipo isn’t for you, there are many different types of treatment available to choose from, including:

  • Vaser liposuction – designed to target specific areas, vaser lipo doesn’t require a general anaesthetic and treatment times can be much faster – usually under two hours. The fat is melted by ultrasound and then extracted from the body over time as it is broken down by the liver. While the results aren’t as instant as with traditional lipo, the recovery time is reduced significantly. It is mainly used on the thighs, hips, back and stomach.
  • Water assisted liposuction – during water assisted liposuction a water jet is used to displace the fat cells first giving the surgeon access to more tissue in less time. This means the results are often better as more cells can survive when transferred to another area and there is also minimal recovery time – making it a good alternative to traditional lipo.

  • Laser liposuction – this procedure involves using a laser to break down stubborn areas of fat which are then extracted using a cannula. The process takes around one hour and is carried out using local anaesthetic with immediate results.

  • Power assisted liposuction – using a cannula with a vibrating tip, power assisted liposuction can be known to break down fat cells quickly and more easily than traditional liposuction leading to faster recovery times.

Cryolipolysis (or CoolSculpting) meanwhile can be used as a non-invasive fat reduction technique, as can ultrasonic cavitation.

These treatments are generally not as effective at removing large volumes of fat cells in a single session, but they may be worth considering if you prefer a non-surgical option.


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