The Skinny: Liposculpture vs. Liposuction

The Skinny: Liposculpture vs. Liposuction

When researching body contouring options, you might have encountered the word “liposculpture” in addition to regular liposuction. Many of my plastic surgery patients in Chicago are uncertain about which is the correct approach to help reduce their most bothersome areas of fat. To help clear up any confusion , let’s take a look at the main differences between these 2 techniques.


Liposuction is an incredibly common plastic surgery procedure that is used to remove unwanted fat deposits from head to toe. In recent years, liposuction techniques have been refined to treat the thighs, abdomen, back, upper arms, and other areas where fat is prone to unwanted accumulation. Liposuction procedures usually are done under general anesthetic so the provider can access the necessary tissues and ensure patient comfort. However, I have learned that larger volume liposuction can still be done under IV sedation with an anesthesiologist skilled in sedation techniques which adds additional safety to the procedure.

Liposuction often involves the use of larger incisions (typically about 1″) to accommodate the size of the cannulas used to remove the fat. While the use of larger cannulas allows for more efficient fat removal, it also has the potential to leave behind visible scars, and therefore I avoid them. I have found that even with a larger volume of fat removal, the use of finer cannulas allows multiple entry sites without visible scars, and more precise shaping.

Liposuction is best for larger areas of fat and can require a longer recuperation time, although patients can still typically return to work within a couple of days. More vigorous physical activity may need 2-3 weeks or more.


As its name implies, liposculpture is a more detailed fat reduction technique. It’s intended to treat smaller areas of fat, as it has the ability to “detail” areas of the body that may not be well-served by traditional liposuction. Liposculpture is especially adept at treating areas such as the face and neck, especially because it uses much smaller incisions than liposuction. By using a smaller cannula inserted through the subcutaneous tissue, I can gently break apart fat (sometimes using ultrasound energy to liquefy fat) before suctioning it away.

Liposculpture often uses local anesthesia, with or without sedation, so recuperation after liposculpture is typically faster and more comfortable than that of liposuction. Due to its effectiveness, I use liposculpture techniques with every patient, even those undergoing larger volume fat removal.

During a larger body contouring procedure, I may use both techniques to address different areas of the body at once. During your initial consultation, I’ll evaluate your particular areas of frustration and share my recommendations to ensure you feel confident about your procedure.

While both liposuction and liposculpture have their advantages, it’s important to talk to your potential plastic surgeon about what techniques he or she offers and specializes in. These are far from the only 2 options available for body contouring. In a previous blog post, I took a deeper look at the different types of fat as well as the removal options that work best for each. By educating yourself prior to your procedure, you can do your part to ensure good results.

I find liposuction and liposculpture to be rewarding procedures, as they both have the potential to treat areas that have bothered patients for years. Those annoying bulges and pockets that don’t seem to budge with diet and exercise can be easily reduced with clinical intervention. To learn more about the possibilities, please contact my office today.

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