During a consultation with the plastic surgeon of your choice, you hear the term “ultrasound-assisted liposuction.” Your surgeon says that it’s the best procedure to meet your needs and give you the shape you want. But, what exactly is ultrasound-assisted liposuction?

Liposuction is a blanket term for procedures that help contour the body and produce the shape desired by the patient. For some, the purpose of liposuction is to get rid of a stubborn fat deposit like a double chin or saddlebags. Others, like the extremely athletic, want to use liposuction to get the definition that their genetics won’t allow, regardless of how hard they exercise and follow strict, healthy diets.

Plastic surgeons can use several approaches to perform liposuction procedures. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction is one of those options.

“Ultrasound-assisted liposuction works very well for tough fat that is hard to remove,” explains Emily Pollard, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon from Bala Cynwyd, Pa. “This approach can also help with the tightening of the skin afterwards.”

Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction Explained

Dr. Pollard explained that during typical ultrasound-assisted liposuction procedures, the surgeon begins by marking the area that will be sculpted and injecting it with a saline solution. The injections begin the process of emulsifying the fat, making it easier for the plastic surgeon to remove the offending fat. The fluid can, additionally, help patients have less post-operative bruising.

According the National Institutes of Health, ultrasound-assisted liposuction uses ultrasonic waves to liquefy the fat beneath the skin. Then, the surgeon can more easily remove it. It works best on areas with hard-to-remove fat.

Pollard adds that the procedure, which has been in use in the United States since the mid 1990s, is also ideal when a plastic surgeon needs to do intricate and precise sculpting.

Generally, ultrasound-assisted liposuction is performed under general anesthesia, and, according to the NIH, the procedure takes longer than the traditional liposuction method.

After the Procedure

Once the surgeon has completed the ultrasound-assisted liposuction procedure, he will likely place drainage tubes in the affected area to help lessen the fluids and swelling. Compression bandages will also be applied.

You will likely need the bandages for several weeks, in order to help with fluid and swelling from the procedure. A follow-up appointment with your surgeon will also be scheduled. This visit will allow your surgeon to check up on your healing process and ensure there are no issues or complications following surgery.

According to the NIH, some patients do briefly gain weight after a liposuction procedure. This weight is fluid from surgery and usually goes away quickly. Some pain and bruising after a liposuction procedure is normal, as well.