Liposuction | Body Contouring | MedStar Health
Close up photo of a plastic surgeon drawing marks on a patient.

Creating a slimmer, smoother contour

Whether you’re ready to eliminate a stubborn stomach “pooch,” bulges on the back, or fat on the inner thighs that won’t budge, liposuction can slim and reshape many areas of the body, removing excess fat and improving your contours. Many patients choose liposuction because it can often be used to treat large areas in one session, with consistent and proven results. 

Liposuction can treat:

  • Cheeks, chin, and neck

  • Upper arms

  • Chest area

  • Abdomen and waist

  • Back

  • Hips and buttocks

  • Thighs

  • Inner knee

  • Calves and ankles

To perform liposuction, your surgeon will typically make a very small incision, just enough for a small, hollow tube called a cannula to be inserted. The cannula is then moved back and forth, dislodging fat and suctioning it out of the body.

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Localized areas of excess fat that do not respond to dieting or exercise can cause certain parts of the body to appear disproportionate, which may be a reason patients may choose to have a procedure called liposuction.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

You and your surgeon will discuss your procedure and areas of treatment. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about the procedure and the potential results.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll be given medications for comfort: local anesthetic, IV sedation, or general anesthesia. A small, inconspicuous incision is made near the treatment area. Local anesthetic will be infused to reduce bleeding. A thin, hollow tube called a cannula is then inserted. Using back and forth motions, your surgeon will use the cannula to loosen fat and suction it away.

Recovery after liposuction

After the procedure, you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a support garment to help minimize swelling and support the area treated as it heals. Small tubes may be placed under the skin temporarily to help drain excess blood or fluid. You’ll likely return home on the day of the procedure with instructions from your doctor about rest and medications.

You’ll typically wear your compression garment for a few weeks. Some soreness, swelling, and bruising are common, peaking during the first 48 hours and then dissipating over two to three weeks, revealing your new contours. Most people can return to work or normal activities within a few days, while avoiding straining, bending, or lifting during the initial postoperative period.

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for liposuction?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy

    • Your expectations are realistic

    • You understand the risks that come along with the procedure

    • You’re within 30 percent of your ideal weight with firm, elastic skin, and good muscle tone

    • You’re bothered by excess fat that doesn’t respond to diet or exercise

    While the results of liposuction are permanent, significant changes in weight can affect your results. If you’re planning to lose weight or become pregnant, you may want to consider postponing the procedure.

  • What does liposuction cost?

    The costs for liposuction will vary based on your specific needs. Most insurance plans do not cover liposuction.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

  • Is liposuction covered by insurance?

    In most cases, liposuction isn’t covered by insurance. However, it’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier.

  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    This is If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of liposuction?

    As with any procedure, liposuction does pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications

    • Bruising or bleeding

    • Damage to deeper structures, such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, or organs

    • Fluid accumulation (seroma)

    • Imperfect or asymmetrical results

    • Infection

    • Irregular pigmentation

    • Numbness or changes in skin sensation

    • Persistent swelling

    • Poor wound healing

    • Possibility of revision surgery

    • Rippling or loose skin

    • Thermal burn or heat injury (if technique is assisted by ultrasound)

    • Worsening of cellulite

  • How should I prepare for liposuction?

    Before the procedure, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the procedure, and it’s recommended that someone stay with you the night of the procedure.

    For more information, visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.

Our locations

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MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007


MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101


MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735