How Much Fat Can Be Liposuctioned Safely?

Doctor Answers 10

Liposuction Safety

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There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.  People come in many shapes and sizes and the amount of liposuction that can be done varies from person to person and facility to facility.  If you weight 200 pounds and you remove 10 pounds of fat, you are removing a much smaller percentage than someone who weights 120 pounds and has 10 pounds of fat suctioned.  Additionally, the setting of the liposuction makes a difference - whether you are having the surgery in an office OR, surgicenter or inpatient hospital setting.  Obviously the more fat that is removed, closer the post operative monitoring is required.  This is essential for the safety of the patient.  So without knowing more about you, seeing pictures, or examining you in person, it is impossible to give you a specific number or about of fat that can be safely removed.


Good Luck.

Limit liposuction volume for optimal safety

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Your question is a very good one that deserves a thorough answer. In the 1990's, when the 'tumescent" technique was becoming popular and doctors from different specialty training started doing cosmetic surgery, higher and higher volumes of fat were removed. Along with this came an increase in complications including some fatalities, and liposuction started to be percieved as a dangerous procedure. Plastic surgeons organized a task force to determine how to best do lipo safely and it was determined that 5 liters was the limit (total fat plus fluid.) As plastic surgeons began adhering to these guidelines, complications decreased and lipo is now regarded as a safe procedure. However, we are now again seeing the limits pushed and hearing reports of serious complications from overdosing with the numbing agent by tryuing to do do much. Ironically, this can occur when marketing laser lipo as "safer" because it avoids general anesthesia. Best advice is to remember that liposuction is surgery, know your anesthesia options (most patients in my practice have intravenous sedation with a qualified anesthesia provider), and don't push for large volumes as a substitute for weight loss with diet and exercise. BTW there is nothing about the laser that makes lipo amenable to local any more than other types of lipo.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

How Much Liposuction is Safe?

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The limiting factor for liposuction is the amount of numbing or blood vessel constricting fluid that is used. For some people only the tummy can be safely treated in one session. For others who might be thin, the "tumescent" fluid can go across the tummy with enough to do the thighs also at the same time.

To be safe, we go by a person's weight and other things such as other medications to determine what the safe limit is for a person.

At your consultation, all this will be discussed. Of course, liposuction is no substitute for weight loss and is not a treatment for obesity.

From experience I can say that whenever I have treated an overweight person, the fat comes right back and usually within a month or so. So it is so important to recognize that liposuction is  for sculpting resistant areas. Large areas respond best to a change in diet and lifestyle.


T. Wayne Day, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon

Liposuction Safety?

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Thank you for the question.

Although there are “guidelines” provided by our professional societies,  safety of any surgical procedure becomes a judgment call made by the surgeon involved. Factors that are involved in this decision-making include:  the specific patient involved, age and health status, facility in which the procedure is being carried out, and the patient's intraoperative response to the procedure etc.

Keep in mind that  an appropriate candidate  for liposuction surgery is a patient who presents with diet and exercise resistant adipose tissue isolated to specific areas. These patients are not  looking for a weight loss solution.

Probably the most important decision a patient makes when considering this operation is selection of plastic surgeon. It is very important to do your due diligences in this regard.

Best wishes.

How much fat can be removed safely by liposuction?

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Your question is far too broad to have one simple answer because multiple factors play a role in determining the safety. Your best bet would be to be evaluated by a plastic surgeon who could then discuss your situation in great detail including recommendations regarding volume. The prudent and acceptable upper limit of volume removal in general for safety is 5 liters though more can be taken out but with a statistically higher risk for problems.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews


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At the extremes like 10 liters safety is compromised but if you do the procedure in the hospital and closely follow the patient you can safely remove that amount of fat. If you are not a surgeon and try to remove a few hundred cc of fat you can kill a patient. It is really not a fair question. The better question would be how much fat could safely be removed from you and in what venue (office or hospital operating room). That would depend on your medical condition, who is doing the surgery, where the surgery is done etc.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

How Much Fat Can Be Liposuctioned Safely?

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As the other surgeons have answered, there are different guidelines published to answer that question. But looking at statistics of outcome, when you start approaching 5000cc bad things can happen including death.  You should definitely be in an accredited facility and maybe even a hospital overnight when you get close to that volume due to all the cardiovascular consequences. Remember this is cosmetic surgery and there is absolutely no reason to get even close to risking your health. You can always come back for more liposuction at a later time.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

How much fat can be liposuctioned safely?

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This is an excellent question, but the answer is more complicated. The short answer is 5000cc or 5.5 quarts. Different surgeons look at this number in different ways. For me, 5000cc is the amount of fat plus the fluid that is suctioned. Some interpret this as 5000cc of fat only (total volume could be up to 8000cc!). The concern is lidocaine toxicity. Again, different surgeons use different dilution of lidocaine solution. I use 35mg/kg maximum dose, some use 50mg/kg or higher. The lidocaine dose is calculated for each person based on his or her weight. I prefer to do liposuction under intavenous sedation by an anesthetist in my AAAASF certified operating room, some people prefer local anesthesia only and promote this as being safer for the patient. Truthfully, this could be a more dangerous proposition, since you have to give more local anesthesia so the patient won't "jump off" the operating room table, thus giving higher doses of lidocaine. The advantage of IV sedation (I do not mean general anesthesia) is that if I need to take another 1000cc, I can give the patient more tumescent solution without the lidocaine. I feel that I can do better contouring under sedation than under local only. So, you see this can get coplicated, and I could go on for another ten pages on this. As board certified plastic surgeons, safety is always our main concern.

The amount is 6 liters as outpatient procedure

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The amount of the liposuction depends on many factors like patient's weight,fat content and patient's health. The guideline from the plastic surgery society is 6 liters as outpatient procedure.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 153 reviews

Liposuction and fat amount

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While an unlimited amount of fat can be removed per se.  It is probably safe to limit the total amount to about 5 liters during any one procedure. This takes in account fluid shifts in the body with the tumescent fluid technique. Of course a patient has to be healthy and medicall cleared and of course a candidate for the procedure.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.