Liposuction and Body Mass Index

How Much Liposuction is Safe?

When it comes to getting rid of body fat, liposuction is considered the closest thing we have to instant gratification. After all, you’re permanently removing fat cells from your body! But every procedure has limits, and the number one question for anyone considering lipo always tends to be: how much fat can safely be removed?


“The amount of liposuction that can be performed safely seems to depend in part on how much fat content a person begins with.”


A new study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggests that it’s not a one-size-lose-all approach; instead, surgeons can look at a patient’s BMI to determine how much fat can be safely extracted during liposuction.


Current guidelines specify that large volume liposuction (>5000 ml) be performed in a hospital setting as this volume carries increased risk for complications.


In the current study, researchers analyzed data from more than 4,500 liposuction patients to determine a connection between complication risk and the amount of fat removed.


Patients were primarily women, aged 41 years and considered overweight (BMI or Body Mass Index of 26.5). Virtually all of the procedures were done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia with an average liposuction volume of 2.1 liters (about 4.2 pounds).


Trying to figure out how much fat will be removed in your liposuction procedure? Read board certified plastic surgeon Kenneth Dembny, M.D.’s great explanation on RealSelf.


The good news is that the study shows that liposuction, when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, is safe and associated with a very low complication rate (1.5%) and few serious complications.


Video:   How Liposuction Removes Fat, Shapes Body


Patients with complications had larger liposuction volumes. The complication rate was 3.7% in large volume liposuction (>5000 ml) compared with just 1.4% for low volume (<5000 ml).


The key factor in complication risk? Body Mass Index, or BMI, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. Patients with a higher BMI could tolerate large-scale fat removal better than patients with a lower BMI.


The analysis suggests that a liposuction volume of 100 ml per body mass index represents a point where risk begins to increase dramatically. In an adult with a BMI of 30, the upper limit would be 3000 ml. In an adult with a BMI of 50, the upper limit would be 5000 ml.


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So depending on your body type and taking your individual risk factors into consideration, this means you may now be able to remove more fat during liposuction than previously believed.


Considering lipo? Here are some tips to achieve the best results:


Heal Quickly and Naturally

Natural products like Arnica Montana and Bromelain can help reduce swelling and speed recovery. Arnica Montana is a homeopathic herb that can help minimize swelling and bruising when taken before and after surgery. Bromelain, a natural enzyme found in pineapples, can also help reduce swelling and promote healing when taken before and after surgery.


Avoid Hot Showers

Hot water can make swelling worse, so keep your shower water moderately warm. And make sure the jets aren’t aimed directly at the procedure area.


Use a Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress post-op can help with pain and swelling. Apply it for 20 minutes on the affected area and leave it off for the next 40 minutes. Repeat every hour. Make sure not to put the cold compress directly on the skin – place a light, soft cloth between your skin and the compress for protection.


Wear a Compression Garment

A medical compression garment is vital for healing after a liposuction procedure. It helps to speed up the healing process and help you return to your normal routine by minimizing swelling, improving circulation, providing support and comfort to surgical areas, and by helping flush fluids out of the body. The pressure also helps the skin conform to your new shape and minimizes sagging. It’s key that the compression garment you choose is made specifically for plastic surgery recovery – any other non-medical garment may negatively affect your healing and your surgery outcome!


Stay Elevated

For the first few days after surgery, or for as long as you experience major swelling, rest and sleep on your back at a 25-45 degree angle. Staying elevated promotes blood circulation, which in turn helps reduce swelling. You can use regular pillows, but consider a wedge pillow, which can be more comfortable and secure.


Eat Right to Recover

Drink a lot of fluids, especially water, to flush your system and help reduce swelling. Avoid foods high in sodium, which will cause you to retain water and worsen swelling. And eat healthfully – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins – to help maintain your results.


Get Moving With Exercise

After your physician gives the OK, daily exercise will help tone and develop muscles and improve skin elasticity, which will help reduce the appearance of loose skin. You can even work with a trainer to develop a workout plan targeting the areas of concern.


[Exercise Prevents Weight Gain After Liposuction]


Liposuction isn’t a magic bullet, but it can be extremely effective at helping sculpt problem areas – especially those areas that exercise and eating right haven’t been able to reach. And coupled with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you can maintain those results!


  1. I have a sister who has been obsessed with getting liposuction for a while now. I have been nervous that she will actually go through with it. This article has helped me to feel a little more comfortable if she decides to do it. I especially like the end of the article that addresses exercise as a way to maintain the results. Thanks for the info!

  2. Hi,

    This is a very informative and useful post for the readers. You have explained it in a very impressive manner. I love your post. Keep sharing and updating your readers. Thanks for sharing.

    Dr. Omi Jindal

  3. Liposuctions is a surgical process which involves making a hole to reach under the skin where the fat forms an irregular layer. Through the hole a hollow tube is inserted and passed around under the skin. The tube is attached to a suction (like a vacumn cleaner) so as to suck up the fat under the skin which is collected in a container and discarded. The hole is then closed with stitches and a firm bandage is applied over the area to prevent bleeding into the space where the fat was removed from.
    There will be extensive bruising after the procedure, but this should disappear after some time. It will also be painful for some time.

  4. Many people, despite diet and exercise, are prone to specific regions of excess fatty tissue which are exercise resistant. Liposuction safely contours the neck, arms, abdomen, upper back, hips, inner and outer thighs, and knees. This can all be performed through small inconspicuous incisions. With diet and exercise after the surgery, the results from surgery may be permanent. Liposuction technology today allows even better contouring than in the past.Liposuction surgery tends to be performed as an outpatient. One may experience temporary discomfort, swelling, numbness, and bruising. Patients are up and walking within hours of surgery. Most resume regular activities and return to work after 1 week. Swelling and firmness may take up to a month or two to resolve.

  5. I like how you mentioned that you should avoid hot showers after liposuction so you don’t make the swelling worse. I’ve been trying to lose weight, but there’s a few spots where the fat just won’t go away. Liposuction seems like a good way to take care of those difficult spots, so I’m considering it. Maybe it would be good to hold off on the hot showers until the swelling has stopped, like you suggested.

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