Woman performs a proper hip hinge.

What is liposuction and why is it still so stigmatised?

Liposuction is a common medical procedure that can be performed to achieve a variety of outcomes. Electively, it’s most frequently used for cosmetic purposes for the removal of fat in specific areas of the body, enabling you to contour your figure.

Liposuction is also promoted as a procedure that removes fat cells themselves, therefore decreasing the body’s ability to store fat within them because they no longer exist! It is for this reason that liposuction is also positioned as a way to reduce body fat in areas that diet and exercise have not been able to achieve desired results. After all, as soon as one eats excess food again or stops exercising, the fat cells will re-expand as they become refilled with fat.

Some of today’s liposuction procedures are also able to relocate fat. This involves the extracted fat from one area being used to contour another area. For women the fat is commonly relocated to the breasts, or areas of asymmetry within the body. For these reasons, liposuction may also be referred to as body contouring.

The areas of the body that most commonly undergo liposuction for men and women are the abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, upper arms, breasts, neck, ankles and buttocks.

Like any surgery, liposuction also involves risk. There may also be pooling of blood or other fluids under the skin of the areas that have undergone liposuction. Other side effects could include marking or spots on the skin that are blue or black in colour. These are the result of bruising and typically resolve in one or two weeks. Swelling on the other hand, can take longer to resolve depending on the severity and how quickly your body heals. Less common effects include clots and infections.

To mitigate potential side effects, reputable practitioners favour techniques such as the removal of excess fluid during the surgery and the prescription of compression garments or application of tight bandages at the conclusion of the procedure.  Some post operative care plans may involve some hyperbaric oxygen therapy to counteract the body’s inflammation and post surgical bruising.

For these reasons, some people think the benefits of a purely cosmetic procedure do not outweigh the potential side effects and recovery time, leading liposuction to develop a stigmatised reputation in some circles. So in other words, liposuction is not for everyone, especially if physical appearance is a less important aspect in someone’s life.  The cost of liposuction can also discourage people to undergo the procedure, especially if it’s to purely improve aesthetic appearance. Unfortunately, profit and not-for-profit health funds alike do not provide any rebates for liposuction unless it is performed for a medical reason.  

Despite this reputation, liposuction remains the gold standard in body contouring and more recent developments in liposuction techniques have created less invasive procedures that require less recovery time. So if you are considering undergoing liposuction, always take the time to research several medical professionals that can offer the procedure and discuss your needs with them face to face.