Baylor Dermatology Clinic

Tumescent Liposuction (Liposculpture)

Tumescent liposuction, or liposculpture, was created by dermatologists in the late 1980s and revolutionized the field of liposuction surgery. The procedure is performed entirely under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis in one of our state-of-the art surgical suites. The avoidance of general anesthesia or heavy sedation makes tumescent liposuction much safer than conventional liposuction surgery.

Procedure Description

During the initial phase of the procedure, a dilute solution containing local anesthesia and a medication to prevent blood loss are injected into the specific areas being treated. The area becomes swollen, or "tumesced" which allows for gentle, precise removal of fat cells. Very small, blunt instruments are used to place the solution, but some mild discomfort can be experienced. An oral medication is usually given to relax the patient during this portion of the procedure.

Next, several tiny incisions are made in the skin and a small tube, or micro-cannula, is inserted. The micro-cannula is attached to a suction device which permanently removes unwanted fat cells. Because our cannulas are much smaller than those used in traditional liposuction surgery, fat is gently broken apart and removed. Aggressive, forceful movements are not needed, so the risk of scarring and bruising is much less than with traditional liposuction. This also leads to quicker recovery and return to normal activities.

After the procedure, compression garments are applied and detailed instructions are provided. The garments are worn continuously for 3-5 days after the procedure and then for 8-10 hours daily for 2 weeks to help with healing. Most patients have only mild soreness for 1-2 days after the procedure and return to work and light activities in 2 days. The small incisions heal very quickly and no stitches are required.


Good overall health and realistic expectations make a good liposuction candidate. Patients with seizure disorders, heart diseases, blood clots, diabetes, allergic reactions to local anesthetics, or taking certain medications (which increase bleeding risk or inhibit metabolism of local anesthesia) are not candidates for the procedure.

Despite the fact that several pounds of fat may be removed, tumescent liposuction is not an effective treatment for obesity. It is best regarded as a contouring procedure designed to remove unwanted pockets of fat that do not respond to diet and exercise. Patients with a healthy lifestyle, stable weight, and good skin elasticity achieve the best results