Liposuction is a type of cosmetic surgery that removes fat from the human body in an attempt to change its shape. Evidence does not support an effect on weight beyond a couple of months and it does not appear to affect obesity related problems. In the United States it is the most commonly done cosmetic surgery.

Side Effects

In addition to the risks mentioned above, liposuction does cause some common side effects, which typically dissipate within a few weeks of the procedure.


Liposuction will cause some swelling afterwards, although some techniques cause less than others. Significant increases in swelling can be a warning sign of other complications. Swelling in the ankles and treated areas is common, along with a temporary lumpy appearance that will typically fade within six months. If the thighs are treated, inflammation of the veins may occur, but this should also go away after a few weeks.


Another liposuction side-effect is bruising. Treated areas may become discolored and be tender to the touch, but they usually disappear after one month. Like swelling, the particular type of liposuction used can help mitigate any bruising that may occur. The status of the bruises should also be discussed with the doctor in post-surgery check-ups.


Patients often experience some soreness and tenderness in the treatment area. This can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication, and a physician may prescribe stronger medication, if needed. However, this discomfort is typically minimal, and patients can typically return to work about two days after their procedures. If they experience severe discomfort or if the soreness gets worse after several days, patients should alert their doctors.

Liposuction Risk

Every surgical or medical procedure involves a certain amount of risk. To minimize potential liposuction risks and side-effects, patients should educate themselves on the different types of liposuction procedures, while discussing their expectations and concerns with their physician. Liposuction complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Extended healing time
  • Allergic reaction to medication or anesthesia
  • Fat or blood clots - clots can migrate to the lungs and lead to death
  • Excessive fluid loss - fluid loss can lead to shock and, in some cases, death
  • Fluid accumulation - fluid must be drained
  • Friction burns
  • Scarring
  • Numb skin
  • Changes in skin pigmentation
  • Damage to the skin or nerves
  • Damage to vital organs