Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent Liposuction


Even with proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices, men and women may accumulate excess fat throughout their face, neck and body.  Liposuction is a safe, effective, and minimally-invasive procedure to remove localized adipose tissue.

Previously, liposuction involved an extensive surgical procedure under general anesthesia; large amounts of fat were removed at once through unsightly surgical incisions. This was a painful procedure with significant risks. In the late 1980s, tumescent liposuction was developed as a safe, office-based alternative, and it has quickly become the gold standard for fat removal.  Tumescent liposuction is extremely safe, offering maximal cosmetic benefits with less risk and minimal downtime.

The secret to tumescent liposuction is the use of a dilute, anesthetic solution which is infiltrated into the fatty layers to be removed. General anesthesia is not required, which diminishes potential risks and avoids unnecessary hospitalization. As patients remain awake during tumescent liposuction, they can change positions throughout the procedure, allowing for more individualized, targeted sculpting of the desired areas.

Am I a good candidate for liposuction?

You are an excellent candidate for liposuction if you are in good overall health and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but have one or more areas of problematic fat deposits that are unresponsive to diet and exercise.  Typical body areas that may be targeted include fat in the face, neck, abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), back, and the inner and outer thighs. Liposuction is also an effective treatment for fatty tumors, such as lipomas, and avoids unsightly surgical scars. The best candidates for tumescent liposuction have good muscle tone and skin elasticity. For those patients with significant loose skin, a surgical excision of both fat and skin (such as a “tummy tuck”) may be a better option. Realistic expectations are important, as liposuction cannot be used as a means for major weight loss.

What happens during the initial consultation for liposuction?

During your initial consultation, Dr. Chung will identify your concerns and take a thorough history about weight fluctuations, level of exercise, and any medical conditions. She will carefully examine the area in question, paying particular close attention to the amount of fat, muscle tone, and elasticity of the skin. Together with you, Dr. Chung will determine whether you are a good candidate for liposuction. Dr. Chung will then review the procedure in great detail and discuss the anticipated results.

What happens during the liposuction procedure?

Prior to the procedure, Dr. Chung reviews and marks the areas to be treated with you. You will be awake during the procedure, but may take Valium or other medication to help you relax throughout the process. A small incision is made in the skin, and a dilute solution of anesthetic fluid (tumescent fluid) is gently placed into the fatty deposits with a thin cannula (small tube). After the area is numb, the adipose tissue is removed. Different cannula sizes and shapes may be used, depending on the layer and location of fat, allowing for proper contouring of the body part. The procedure may take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the area and the amount of fat to be removed. After the procedure, a compression garment is worn, and all patients must have a ride home.

What is the recovery like?

After the procedure, there will be some mild swelling and bruising. You may shower the day after the procedure, though the compression garment is worn for several days to weeks to allow the skin to tighten and contract. The small incisions are left open to allow the tumescent fluid to drain, which may occur for 2 days. There will be some discomfort; while most patients only take Tylenol, you will be given a prescription for additional pain medication to help keep you comfortable.  We encourage walking starting the day after the procedure, but strenuous exercise should be avoided for 2 weeks, depending on the area treated. Most patients return to work after a few days.

What will I look like?

Most of the bruising will be gone in 1 to 2 weeks. While visible contour changes become noticeable within a month, there will be continued improvement for several months. The incision sites will initially form a scab and will eventually resemble a light freckle or mole. Most people are so excited by the visible changes in their contour that they are inspired to continue to exercise and tone their bodies. An improved look does inspire an improved outlook!

Complementary procedures

Patients who undergo neck liposuction may also benefit from a neck lift and placement of a chin implant for further definition and contouring.


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou