What Happens when Liquefied Fat is Not Suctioned Out?

I just had tumescent Smart Lipo done on my abdomen and a male breast reduction. The doctor suctioned out the liquefied fat after using the laser. If the excess fat was not suctioned out, what happens?

Doctor Answers 18

It is best to remove the fat.

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It is best to remove the liquified fat after laser assisted liposuction. Leaving the devitalized fat behind runs the risk of fat necrosis and the development of lumps and bumps. While your body would likely resorb most of the fat, it is not a good idea to take a chance.

David Shafer, MD
New York City

It is recommended that you get much better results!

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Cynosure Inc. the laser company that actually manufactures the "Smartlipo MPX" (the newest, top-of-the-line, dual laser Smartlipo) recommends that by suctioning you should get much better results! Many doctors do not suction and many do. Best to check with your surgeon if you want to achieve your optimal results. That is our opinion as well.

I have a dual board certified Plastic Surgeon in my office (with 15 years of experience), in Ft Lauderdale FL that performs all of our Smartlipo procedures. He says that he gets far better results when the liquified fat is gently suctioned out and the LaserBody & FacialSculpting he performs is tremendous and our patients have all been thrilled with their results.

Shino Bay Aguilera, DO
Fort Lauderdale Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

The fat treated by Smart Lipo (laser lipolysis) is best removed by suctioning.

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You have asked a very good question. It is best to remove the fat that has been liquefied by Smart Lipo (laser lipolysis) as well as other forms of liposuction. Historically, the early users of Smart Lipo experienced suboptimal results by not suctioning and extracting the majority of the treated fat. And, the reasons are simple. The laser has ‘melted’ the fat cells and its contents.

In reasonable small amounts the body is able to process and remove the cellular debris and biochemical by products of the melted fat cells. In larger amounts, the results are unpredictable with hard nodules, lumps, and uneven scarring seen.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

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It will be resorbed

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you mentioned that your doctor did carry out liposuctioning after the Smartlipo. Any residual liquified fat that was not suctioned out will simply be resorbed so you do not need to worry.

david berman
board certified plastic surgeon

You should not leave dead tissue behind

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Dead tissue left behind from surgery is generally eaten up by the body by macrophages or walled off as a granuloma (firm permanent lump). The process of removal of this tissue involves inflammation. The mediators of inflammation cause pain and lumpiness ( temporary and sometimes permanent) and scarring, and prolong the healing (and therefore recovery) process.

While it is true that scarring can cause tightening of the tissue, the process of scarring can also cause contracture, or undesireable scarring. This in turn can cause limitation in motion and tethering of the skin, dimpling and irregularities. The formation of these problems is not predictable.

It is better not to leave dead tissue behind during surgery. This in my opinion includes leaving behind emulsified fat without doing liposuction to "clean up" the emulsified fat.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

Liquefied fat

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Liposuction techniques like ultrasonic or laser transmit energy to the fat to liquefy it. Once this fat is liquefied the body treats it as something to get rid of. If it is not removed then it becomes the body's job to get rid of it.

Now it is impossible to remove every last bit of devitalized fat with liposuction (or any other technique) and the body is quite good at "cleaning up" small volumes of devitalized tissue spread throughout a wide area. The problem could come if there were collections of devitalized fat. This could lead to scar (lumps, bumps, contracture and change in shape long term) or infection (devitalized tissue is an excellent medium for bacteria).

I hope this helps.

Steven Williams, MD

Liquified fat is aspirated to prevent collections of fluid/blood; this can interfere w/ healingconto

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Liquified fat is aspirated to prevent collections of fluid and or blood; these collections can interfere w/ healing and the ultimate body/facial contour.

Also, this permits the skin to 'stick" to the underlying base of the tissue below the fat. The drape of skin can then mold to the underlying fascia and musle, giving the resulf a more sculpted appearance.

Christine Petti, M.D.

Christine A. Petti, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Smart Lipo and Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction: Cavitation and Liquefaction of fat

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Laser or ultrasound assisted liposuction causes fat cell destruction.  The fat cells are composed of a lipid bilayer and the lipids are metabolized and removed from the body.  This means that it will take additional time for you to see the final result.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Best to be removed

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Liquified fat is removed during liposuction that is performed by VASER or Laser lipolysis.  Obviously it is impossible to remove every last drop.  Therefore, some of it will be naturally absorbed by the body and processed by the liver and kidneys.

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

It disappears

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Smartlipo without suction, if done on an area where the volume of undesirable fat is not excessive, will simply result in gradual resorption of the fat over time, and the result should be acceptable. If a large volume has been lasered, however, the chances for inconsistency and lumpiness are greater. The best advice is to simply always suction after laser, which speeds healing, lessens inflammation, and, most importantly, gives the patient their desired result much faster.

Robert W. Benson, MD
Hammond Dermatologic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 19 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.