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Liposculpture vs Liposuction

Liposuction performed using general anaesthesia is the traditional procedure to remove fat deposits. London Lipo Institute uses tumescent anaesthesia to perform advanced liposculpture.


Type of anaesthetic used

Liposuction employs general anaesthesia. The patient is put to sleep with a breathing tube and muscle paralysis. This means a mechanical ventilator is used to support your breathing. You cannot be repositioned during the procedure without a significant risk of dislodging the breathing tube. Liposuction must always be performed in the hospital environment. The cost of general anaesthesia makes the procedure financially unaffordable for most except a tiny few. Extensive pre-operative fasting is required – the patient must fast from overnight. This means the patient will have a significant degree of clinical dehydration prior to the procedure even taking place.

Liposculpture involves local anaesthesia only and is performed in a fully equipped and accredited clinic facility. The patient is awake and cooperative throughout. A calming tablet is given to the patient to help relaxation during the procedure. Soothing music can be played, or the patient may watch television during the procedure. There is no pre-operative fasting involved. The patient may eat a light breakfast prior to the procedure. The awake patient is constantly able to readjust their position to allow the surgeon multi-directional capability in addressing the areas of concern. This three-dimensional approach to fat removal explains why our procedure is true advanced liposculpture for the most pleasing aesthetic results.


Excellent symmetry of fat removal. Note the absence of bruising in this patient. This photo was taken at the end of the procedure.

Blood loss

Blood loss can be very significant with liposuction performed under general anaesthesia. In over half of all cases, a blood transfusion may be required. Blood transfusions carry their own unique set of risks including allergic reactions, infection and even potentially giving the wrong type of blood which can have catastrophic consequences for the patient.

Liposculpture performed under local anaesthesia results in total blood loss of less than 20ml on average. More blood is lost from having a routine blood test. We never need to resort to blood transfusions during or after your procedure.

The recovery period

All patients who have liposuction under general anaesthesia must remain in the hospital overnight and often must stay for 2-3 nights because of the substantial blood loss involved. The extensive bruising and swelling hampers mobility. A reduction in the ability to mobilise increases the risk of complications such as bedsores. The duration of time away from work can be significant – They are unable to return to work for at least 1-2 weeks.

Patients who have liposculpture are able to walk in and walk out of the clinic in the space of a few hours. Most return to work the next day or the day after. Some are even back to work the same day.

Risk of complications

The use of general anesthesia with liposuction means that highly volatile anaesthetic gases will be used to maintain you in a deep sleep. These gases substantially increase the risk of nausea and vomiting occurring after your procedure which delays recovery and slows down the healing process. Patients often cite the risk of nausea and vomiting after the procedure as their greatest fear. Patients often dread the headache and ‘groggy’ feeling after waking up from general anaesthesia. The bruising and swelling associated with liposuction performed under general anaesthesia demands significant pain relief after the procedure. Often Morphine-based medication is required to control the pain. The very large cannulas used with liposuction mean that the risk of skin unevenness and even skin breakdown is much higher. The incidence of venous thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis) is a very significant risk with liposuction performed under general anaesthesia. This is the most common cause of patient mortality following the liposuction procedure under general anaesthesia.

Liposculpture performed with local anaesthesia does not carry the risk of nausea or vomiting. Patients can return home shortly after the procedure. The local anaesthesia used in liposculpture means patients are pain-free for the first 18-24 hours. More than half of all patients will require no pain-killer medication after their procedure. Minor discomfort after this period can be treated very effectively with just Paracetamol only.

Infection risk

The risk of infection is very much greater with liposuction performed under general anaesthesia. In many cases, retained collections of blood from the significant blood loss can form a haematoma (organised collection of blood). This often becomes infected and turns into an abscess, and is potentially life-threatening as the patient can develop septicaemia (blood poisoning). Surgeons who perform liposuction often use drains after the procedure to address this issue. However, the use of surgical drains in themselves is also an infection risk as microorganisms are able to track up the tubing into the wound.

Liposculpture has one of the best safety profiles for infection risk. In our practice, we are proud of our ZERO percent infection record (over 800 procedures performed). We take the risk of infection very seriously and take proactive steps to prevent its occurrence. This includes proper patient selection, washing in a special antiseptic solution and antibiotics to take after the procedure. Our operating rooms have a special air filtration system creating super clean air compliant with the most stringent of government healthcare regulations.

Liposculpture incisions are tiny 3-4mm holes which seal in 1-2 days. There is no need for closure with sutures, paper strips or metal staples. The cosmetic results from keeping the surgical wounds open are far superior to closure with the aforementioned methods.


Find out more

You can find out more about liposculpture on our blog pages. At London Lipo Institute, we have a number of plastic surgeons experienced in liposculpture surgery. To book a free consultation, please call us on 01923 801601 or email Alternatively, please fill out the contact box below and a member of our team will get in touch with you.

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