Which Type of Liposuction is the Least Painful?

I'm considering having smart lipo or vaser lipo on my inner knees, stomach and back areas. The only final thing putting me off right now is the fear of the pain. From what I've read, it is a really painful experience. I was just wondering if all Liposuction is the same in this respect or is one slightly less painful than others? Also, are patients allowed to take painkillers beforehand. Thanks :)

Doctor Answers 8

Painless Liposuction

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Tumescent liposuction, skillfully performed, can be totally painless during the actual liposuction procedure. A painless procedure is possible if the tumescent local anesthetic solution is distributed throughout 100% of the fat volume that is subjected to liposuction. Administering the local anesthetic can also be virtually painless.

I wrote the article "How to Maximize Patient Comfort During Tumescent Liposuction" (available at the "Web reference" link below) to describe these techniques. Also very important to patient comfort, as described in this article, is keeping the patient warm during the procedure.

After the areas to be treated are properly anesthetized, laser treatment prior to liposuction should also be painless.

In the vast majority of my patients pain medication (usually Tylenol) is not needed until after the procedure, when the local anesthetic effect wears off (up to 12 hours later).

Guilford Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Which Type of Liposuction is the Least Painful?Answer:

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The various techniques ALL involve passing a metal tube back and forth under your skin…which kinda hurts! What is different is what you do to the fat before you suck it out with a metal tube that kinda hurts! Tumescent solution softens and numbs the area really well before suction and Vaser and Laser use Tumes. Technique first, and then melt the fat before suction. But I find that some areas are more tender than others. I have found the thighs to be the most tender but still not too bad.


John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Tumescent liposuction is the least painful.

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1)  The first thing that will reassure you is that liposuction in general, compared to other kinds of surgery, has very little pain.  Each area is a little different.  you should have almost no pain in the back, and a little more discomfort in the abdomen.  The incisions are tiny.

2)  We think tumescent liposuction is best for a number of reasons.  There is by far the most successful experience with it.  Because fluid that contains local anesthesia is injected into the fat, there is no pain when you wake up after tumescent lipo.  This effect lasts several hours.

3)  You go home within a couple of hours with some mild painkillers.  And most patients go back to work in four days.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Pain control during surgery

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The least painful surgery is one done under general anesthesia. Every hour of every day someone in the world is having surgery on their heart, bowels etc and not feeling it because they are under general anesthesia.

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

Which Type of Liposuction is the Least Painful?

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Pain is more a patient preference issue. Even though most liposuction techniques have low levels of pain, if you are one of the patients that have a very low pain tolerance or threshold than expect some level of pain. Post operative pain medications are available. In my personal experience I believe Smart Lipo does offer less pain post treatment than VASER lipo. But that is my limited experience of over 1,000 cases. As for which lipo technique is better seek in person evaluations from boarded docs who offer both. I offer both and prefer Smart Lipo in my opinion. 

Which Type of Liposuction is the Least Painful?

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Dear cherry_pez,

Liposuction can usually be performed with minimal discomfort.

For patients who want smaller amounts of liposuction performed on a limited number of areas and have normal pain tolerance, liposuction can usually be done comfortably using local tumescent anesthesia combined with oral medications. The initial injections of the local and tumescent anesthesia will sting, but the areas injected should be dull and numb afterwards. During the procedure, there may be some sensitive spots, but most patients are able to tolerate this comfortably with minimal to mild discomfort.

For patients who are unusually sensitive to pain, who are very concerned about the possibility of being uncomfortable during the procedure, who have a history of chronic pain, or who desire treatment of multiple large areas during one operation, liposuction is best done under tumescent anesthesia combined with intravenous sedation (twilight sleep) or general anesthesia. When you are under twilight sleep or general anesthesia, you should feel little (if anything) during the procedure. Be certain that the operating room facility is certified by AAAASF, AAAHC, or Medicare so that the highest standards for patient safety and care are met.

After liposuction, most patients experience mild discomfort, which is often described as a deep tissue soreness comparable to an extremely vigorous workout. There may also be sensations of swelling, numbness, stinging, and/or burning. These symptoms are usually controlled with oral pain medications. Having said all this, pain varies among individuals, and "most" does not equal "all." Some patients experience little pain, most experience mild pain, but a few will report higher levels of pain.

The type of anesthesia matters, but the type of liposuction should not have a big impact on the amount of pain experienced. Beware of marketing hype is somebody tells you otherwise.

Warmest wishes,

Larry Fan, MD



Larry Fan, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction pain

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Liposuction is one of the least painful procedures plastic surgeons perform. It involves very small incisions and insertion of a small cannula. I perform liposuction of multiple areas under intravenous sedation so no preop pain medication would be required. Many over the counter pain meds could have the effect of increasing bruising so you should not take them or any other medications without the knowledge of your plastic surgeon. The idea of light sedation is to make thr procedure painless. In NY, this can only be performed in an accredited facility so some physicians who have not fulfilled the safety standards of the Joint Commission or AAAASF promote procedures that they can legally perform in their offices. The most important thing is to be in the hands of an experienced surgeon. Best to you!

Expect little discomfort with liposuction

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I am not sure what you have been reading but liposuction should not be painful. Despite marketing hype and various claims, there should not be much difference between the various technologies used. The use of tumescent anesthesia is routine but I feel that the patient's experience is better if we also use intravenous sedation. As for laser lipo, more than 90% of plastic surgeons experienced withdoing  lipo felt that it had little if any benefit in a recent survey. Choose the surgeon you trust (remember that liposuction is surgery) before the technology.

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