Is 4.5 hours too long for general anesthesia during Liposuction?

I am to have liposuction to my inner/outer thighs, hips, and stomach in 6 weeks. My PS explained to me that I would likely be under for about 4.5 hours. I am 39, 5'1, and 130lbs. I am getting more and more nervous about the reality of the risks of anesthesia and am getting more paranoid. I will also add I am a healthcare provider and have likely seen when bad things happen to normal people. Is 4.5 hours too long? I really don't think I could do 2 surgeries and worry more about that risk.

Doctor Answers 15

4.5 Hours too Long?

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As long as you are healthy, your surgery is being performed in an accredited facility, and anesthesia is being performed by a board certified anesthesiologist, then you should be perfectly fine. The concern is really much less about the time under anesthesia then it is about the amount of surgery being performed and the overall surgical trauma. Liposuction in general is not tremendously traumatic unless one is having a large volume amount of total aspiration (material suctioned). You are far better off having your surgeon take a little extra time and having the surgery done well rather than having it done as fast as possible. The other thing that you may know if you are a health care provider is that all surgeons lie about their surgical times.

Liposuction - nervous about the risks of general anesthesia

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Thank you for asking about your liposuction.

  • It is normal to be anxious about surgery.
  • The safe limit for elective surgery is 6 hours so you are well within your limit.
  • Assuming your surgeon is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and your surgery is in an accredited out-patient surgery center with a supervising Board Certified Anesthesiologist, your risks are very very low.
  • Good work takes time - it sounds as though your surgeon plans to take her/his time to get you the best results. That makes sense to me.
  • Please let me note that the statistics are clear that general anesthesia is safer than MAC (intravenous sedation with local anesthesia because the sedation can cause respiratory problems General anesthesia controls your breathing for you.
  • Straight local anesthesia is another option but surgery takes longer and is not entirely pain free.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Is 4.5 Hours Too Long for Liposuctioin Surgery

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No it's not too long.  We provide serial compression devices to the calves to keep venous blood moving, and keep the patient as warm as possible with upper and lower body Bair huggers (warming blankets).  Procedures of this length or longer are commonly done in my practice.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Is 4.5 hours too long for general anesthesia during Liposuction?

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Hello and thank you for your questions.

The amount of time spent in the operating room is dependent upon how much fat needs to be removed. Essentially, the more fat that is planned to be removed, the longer it will take. This is not an exact science. What you really want is the best outcome.

Given what you have listed, this may be OK in terms of times and treatment locations for you. However, as all surgeons you consider should say, it really depends on your consultation with your treating doctor. As you are in the healthcare profession, you understand the importance of a face-to-face consultation. You may have the right surgeon for you but you are nervous. 

What you are planning is important a big step for you beyond the financial factors. 

My best advice is that - you are normal person and nervous. Don't rely solely upon website advice for such an important step. You can review the link provided, which may provide you additional information. Review the photo gallery. Remember, getting another face-to-face consultation is not a bad thing to do. 


Michael Kulick, MD, DDS
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Is 4.5 hours too long for general anesthesia during Liposuction?

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the length of time of general anesthesia as long as you are healthy should not be a concern. As long as you are having the procedure as an accredited facility, with a board certified plastic surgeon, and supervision from a board certified anesthesiologist everything should be fine for an elective surgery that is 4.5 hours. 

Jordan P. Farkas, MD
Paramus Plastic Surgeon

Is 4.5 hours too long for general anesthesia during Liposuction?

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If you enjoy good health you should do well.  However, I don't understand why lipo of your stomach, hips and thighs would require that much time.  If you're uncomfortable with that length of anesthesia seek another consultation with a Bd Certified plastic surgeon.  That procedure routinely takes about 2-2 1/2 hours as long as fat is not being harvested for injection.  Regards and best wishes,

Jon A Perlman MD FACS 

Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery 

Extreme Makeover Surgeon ABC TV

Best of Los Angeles Award 2015, 2016 

Beverly Hills, Ca

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Lipo and OR time

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I usually treat this areas in a shorter period of time, but each surgeon is different.  Remember, the key is to get great results and be as efficient as possible, but do not push your surgeon to shorten his OR time if that is what he requires to achieve a nice result.

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

Knowing What to Expect with Anesthesia

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This is a fairly typical amount of time for the procedures you mentioned. Since you're concerned, I recommend following up with your doctor if you are concerned.  Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

4 1/2 hours of General Anastasia

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 4 1/2 hours of general anesthesia is fairly typical for many cosmetic procedures.

The amount of surgery is probably more important than the number of hours.

How much fat it's removed it's probably going to have a greater impact than the time of the surgery.

Since you work in healthcare you probably have some idea that general anesthesia is incredibly safe and the chance of having a bad outcome other than nausea and vomiting, which is common, is extremely unlikely.

All that said my practices devoted exclusively to liposuction and fat transfer.

I do the great majority of these procedures without the use of General Anastasia and find multiple advantages to avoiding putting my patients to sleep.

First and foremost the results are greatly improved by allowing my patients to hold a different anatomic positions throughout the procedure.

For example inner thigh liposuction with patients and the frog leg position does not give the same results as patient is laying on their sides.

Many plastic surgeons rely on general anesthesia for these procedures and there's nothing in here in the wrong in doing so.

It's possible to turn patients on their side or face down while under General Anastasia but it's cumbersome, has some risks involved and many surgeons or apprehensive to do so unless absolutely necessary.

We each find what works best for us.

Other advantages to avoiding General Anastasia include faster recovery, improved safety, less nausea and vomiting and lower cost.

If your plastic surgeon it's good then you should have nothing to worry about.


Mats Hagstrom M.D.

Mats Hagstrom, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

4.5 Hours

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The risk of anesthesia time is of lesser concern to plastic surgeons working in an accredited facility than over loading the patient with fluid and excessive fat removal intraoperatively. If this is to be an outpatient procedure, your volume of aspirate shouldn't exceed 2 liters. If you are over this limit then monitoring of your fluid balance and electrolyte changes should take place overnight in proper facility. It sounds as though the areas you are planning to do will fit int the outpatient category though. Don't forget about 20 minutes is wasted waiting for the adrenaline effect of the tumescent solution to gain adequate effect before starting liposuction.

Ken Dolynchuk, MD
Manitoba Plastic Surgeon

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.