Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent Liposuction

What is Tumescent Liposuction?

Liposuction is a common cosmetic surgery designed to remove excess fat and shape body contours. As an invasive procedure using incisions, most types are performed with general anesthesia.

Tumescent liposuction, however, is a type of liposuction that can sometimes be performed without the general anesthesia that surgeries of this nature often require. This procedure, also called “local liposuction,” uses an infusion of adrenaline, saline, and local anesthesia prior to fat removal. The amount of saline solution injected is about two to three times larger than the volume of fat and liquid that is removed.

One concern with traditional liposuction is the increased risk of significant side effects from general anesthesia, as well as other risks like bleeding.

The idea behind tumescent liposuction is that it may be a safer alternative while still providing results. The other main advantage of this procedure is that it may avoid large shifts in body fluids that sometimes occur after removing a large volume of fat, which may result in low blood pressure.

However, as tumescent liposuction is still a major surgery, this doesn’t mean the procedure is without risk.

Before Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction benefits

Tumescent liposuction may be an alternative to more extensive surgeries of this type if you’re looking for a smaller amount of fat removal.

On average, the tumescent method removes about 3 to 5 liters of fat compared with 8 to 10 liters with traditional liposuction. This also shortens the recovery time. Most people can generally tolerate a procedure that removes up to 3 liters of fat and liquid.

This type of cosmetic surgery is called “tumescent” because of the way the saline infusion makes the skin swell, purportedly increasing the accuracy of fat cell removal. Additionally, the adrenaline in the solution acts as a vasoconstrictor, reducing the risk of bleeding.

Using lidocaine instead of a general anesthesia may also decrease the risk of related side effects, such as:

. Nausea or vomiting

. Muscle aches

. Hypothermia

. Sore throat

. Headaches

. Delirium

Overall, some of the possible benefits may include a decreased risk of:

. Bleeding

. Pain and soreness

. Bruising

. Skin rippling after surgery

Who is a candidate for tumescent liposuction?

Your provider can help you determine whether tumescent liposuction is right for you. Ideally, you should be a nonsmoker and not have any serious underlying medical conditions. Both of these factors could impair healing post-surgery.

Also, we recommend that candidates for any form of liposuction be within 30 percent of their “ideal” body weight. Good skin elasticity and muscle tone can also lead to better results.

On the flipside, you may not be a candidate for this procedure if you’re trying to lose weight. No form of liposuction is a treatment for weight loss, and it shouldn’t be used as such. Tumescent liposuction also doesn’t treat cellulite.

Potential side effects

While the side effects of tumescent liposuction aren’t as significant, you may still experience:

. Mild burning when the local anesthesia is administered

. Pain at the treatment site

. Mild discomfort

. Minimal bleeding

Before surgery

. Stop taking blood thinning medications for 2 weeks.

. Stop smoking 4 weeks before and after procedure.

. Stop all diet medicine, ephedrines, asthma, or thyroid medicine 2 days prior procedure.

During Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction procedure

Like other types of liposuction, the tumescent method consists of small incisions in the treatment area followed by the suctioning of fat cells. The procedure requires smaller incisions, along with a shorter treatment time.

You may expect the following:

  1. First, your cosmetic surgeon will administer the adrenaline-lidocaine-saline solution into the area of treatment. They will wait 10 to 15 minutes until your body has fully absorbed the solution before continuing. In all, this may take up to 90 minutes.
  2. Next, your surgeon will make small incisions in your skin. Depending on the area of treatment, you may need four to eight incisions, with each one consisting of 1 to 3 millimeters (mm) in length.
  3. They will then start the process of fat aspiration via a tube called a cannula. With the tumescent technique, your surgeon will use a much smaller cannula called a microcannula.
  4. Once the procedure is complete, your surgeon will apply compression bandages to the treatment area. Unlike traditional liposuction, no sutures are required for the small incisions.

In total, you can expect the entire procedure to take 3 to 4 hours, versus 2 to 3 hours for a traditional liposuction. It can take longer if the procedure is performed under general anesthesia.

After Tumescent Liposuction

Recovering from tumescent liposuction

The recovery time for this type of liposuction can be significantly shorter than traditional surgeries. In fact, it’s estimated that people go back to work within 1 to 3 days, compared with several days or weeks with traditional liposuction.

You may still feel pain at the treatment site with the tumescent method. However, compared with traditional liposuction, the pain lasts an average of 24 hours.

And if the procedure is performed using general anesthesia, the pain or discomfort felt afterward is comparable to typical liposuction procedures. Depending on the treatment area and your own individual pain tolerance, you may not necessarily need pain medications.

Tumescent liposuction vs. standard liposuction

Overall, both standard and tumescent liposuction procedures have the same end goal of removing unwanted fat cells that don’t respond to conventional methods of diet and exercise.

Still, since standard liposuction removes more fat and requires general anesthesia, you can expect significant differences between the two procedures. Consider the following factors:



Tumescent Liposuction

Standard Liposuction

Target areas

Smaller amounts of fat, with as little as 3 liters taken out

Larger amounts of fat, up to 10 liters

Type of anesthesia used




1 to 3 mm in length

1 to 1.5 cm in length


Lidocaine, saline, and adrenaline injected into fat cells prior to surgery


Average surgery length

3 to 4 hours

2 to 3 hours

Possible side effects

Minimal pain, burning, and bleeding

More moderate risk of pain, bruising, and bleeding. Skin rippling and risks from general anesthesia are also possible.

Recovery timeline

A few days

Several days or weeks

Post-surgery requirements

Temporary pain relievers possible

Pain medications, sutures, and possible blood transfusion


. https://www.healthline.com/health/cosmetic-surgery/tumescent-liposuction

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