When a close friend told me yesterday she’s planning to go under the knife for liposuction, the only response I was able to utter was, “Seriously?” Even as someone who’s not against cosmetic surgery, lipo seems to be going way too far. I mean, a bit of snip and snap in the nose or eyelids is fine, but having fat vacuumed out from under the skin? Not only does the recovery period stretch as far, I’ve also heard news about people dying while being operated on the table.

So, to be able to give my friend sound advice, I decided to research about it and shed some light on the matter . Here’s what you need to know, if ever you or a person close to you is planning to go for it:

What is liposuction?
Liposuction surgery, also known as fat removal surgery, is commonly performed to remove excess fat from specific areas of the body. It is one of the most common procedures performed by plastic surgeons.

Who should consider liposuction?
You’re a good candidate of the procedure if you have troublesome, localized fat deposits that are resistant to the effects of diet and exercise. Moreover, you’re best to go with it if you:
• Average or only slightly above-average weight
• Firm, elastic skin (Liposuction removes fat not skin)
• In good overall health

Areas for liposuction:
• Stomach
• Buttocks
• Hips
• Love Handles
• Saddlebags
• Thighs
• Calves
• Ankles
• Breasts
• Back
• Arms

What can I expect from liposuction?
Your expectations need to be realistic. Results come right after surgery but so are the temporary bruises. You will most likely be wearing a compression garment, usually used to help “shrink” the skin. Recovery period depends on how many how well your body heals and certain factors such as age, overall health and type of liposuction done will determine how long you need to recuperate. 

How should I proceed?
Arrange a consultation with your surgeon. Your surgeon will then discuss the best options for you depending on your skin type and current fat deposits. S/he will also discuss the effectiveness, safety and cost of the procedure. You should ask and raise any concerns you may have at this point. This is a major surgery so get all the facts right before you make the decision. Once you have decided to undergo liposuction, instructions will be given to you to prepare for the surgery. Your surgeon will suggest dietary guidelines and restrictions. You also need to be transparent about your medical history, your current medications and allergies.

How is liposuction done?
An anesthetic will be given prior to the surgery. It may only be locally applied or you may require a general application in which case the surgery will be done while you are sleeping. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the liposuction procedure is performed using a suction device attached to a small, stainless steel instrument called a cannula. Through small incisions, the cannula is inserted into fatty areas between skin and muscle where it removes excess fat either using a suction pump or a large syringe. This results in a smoother, improved body contour. The length of the procedure will vary with the amount of fat needing removal.

What are the potential liposuction risks?
The risks and potential complications of surgery should be discussed to you by your plastic surgeon. Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include:
• Scarring
• Infection
• Hematoma
• Allergic reactions
• Need for revisions
• Indentations and irregularities

How much would liposuction cost me?
Liposuction cost can vary widely. A surgeon’s cost for liposuction may vary based on his or her experience and the type of procedure used. Other costs such as the hospital fee, medical tests and medications should also be taken into consideration. 

How long is recovery after liposuction?
Under most circumstances, when it is an outpatient procedure, lipo recovery is usually quick. Most people can return to work within a few days and to normal activities within about two weeks. You should expect bruising, swelling, and soreness for a least a few weeks. However, every person's outcome will vary based on factors such as volume of fat cells removed and area of removal. Your doctor will discuss what results you can expect to achieve and how to best maintain your new body shape.