Liposuction (Lipoplasty, Tumescent or PAL Surgical Fat Removal) - San Diego, CA*

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When you live in an area that is treasured for beautiful weather and endless outdoor activities like Southern California, it's natural to want your body to look its best. For many of us, our natural genetics don't always cooperate, holding onto pockets of unwanted fat despite how well we take care of ourselves. Triple board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo performs liposuction to help San Diego and La Jolla women and men get rid of those stubborn, little imperfections that detract from a smooth, fit look. Liposuction (using tumescent or PAL techniques) can provide a more flattering silhouette by permanently removing diet and exercise-resistant pockets of fat from the cheeks of the face, chin, neck, chest, upper arms, abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs or ankles. Liposuction is consistently among the most popular body contouring procedures at La Jolla Plastic Surgery, but it should not be considered weight-loss surgery. It is designed to fine-tune the contours of your body, and it's important that you are already at or close to your ideal weight when you undergo the procedure.

Before Surgery

Dr. Chaffoo helps determine if you are a good candidate for liposuction at a private complimentary consultation by listening to your cosmetic goals and completing a thorough physical examination. If Dr. Chaffoo determines liposuction is the best option for you, he will then decide which technique will best suit your needs.

Tumescent "Super-Wet"

The most common method he uses for San Diego-area patients is called tumescent liposuction, which Dr. Chaffoo performs using general anesthesia. This technique involves the injection of a saline solution that includes an anesthetic to numb the area being treated, limit bleeding, and saturate the fatty tissue. The tumescent solution makes the fatty tissue swollen and firm, which makes it easier to break up and suction from the body. A thin, hollow tube called a cannula, inserted through a tiny incision, is used to remove the fat.

Power-Assisted (PAL)

Dr. Chaffoo also combines power-assisted liposuction (PAL) with the tumescent technique for certain areas. PAL uses a vibrating cannula to loosen fat. This can be especially helpful in the areas of the back, flanks, and chest, as well as in liposuction revision cases. The addition of PAL reduces tissue trauma for less swelling and bruising and a more accurate and complete removal of unwanted fat.

Surgical Technique

Liposuction is usually performed at an accredited surgical facility with the patient under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Based on decisions made during your complimentary consultation, Dr. Chaffoo marks the existing contours of your body to guide the procedure. He then makes small incisions and removes the fat using small, stainless steel tubes inserted through the incisions. Manual liposuction requires the surgeon to vigorously move the cannula to break up the fat. Dr. Chaffoo will remove the desired amount of fat to create smooth contours before closing the incisions.


Liposuction is an outpatient procedure, meaning you return home on the day of the operation. Patients whose procedures are performed using general anesthesia will remain under observation at our office for at least an hour before being allowed to return home. You will need to have a responsible adult drive you home. Mild bruising, swelling, and soreness are common in the first few weeks following liposuction. You will be instructed to wear special compression garments designed to reduce swelling and promote incision healing, usually for a few weeks. Dr. Chaffoo provides detailed instructions tailored to your needs to help enhance the speed and comfort of your recovery. Although you should be able to return to work within just a few days, take care to avoid activities that place strain on the body for at least 2 weeks.


The improvements from liposuction will be immediately noticeable, but your final results may not be seen for 6 – 9 months as the body fully recovers from the swelling and inflammation. You can maintain your slimmer, sculpted shape for years and years by keeping up a sensible diet and regular exercise routine. If you gain a large amount of weight after liposuction, the body may find an odd place to store it, so it's best if you are at a healthy, stable weight that you can maintain after your surgery. Natural aging and other factors may also change your results over time.

Expected Costs

Because liposuction techniques vary, the cost of the procedure depends on what type of liposuction is performed, along with the area or areas of your body being treated. Neck liposuction, for example, will cost less than abdominal liposuction. Most patients pay about $4,500 - $9,000 for their liposuction procedure. Dr. Chaffoo and our team are happy to provide you with a customized quote when you contact our office. We make every effort to keep our costs competitive and affordable so our deserving patients can fit them into their plans.

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Average Cost  
$4,500 - $9,000
Recovery Time  
2 Weeks
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Liposuction FAQs

Conditions Treated?

The media sometimes tells stories of liposuction patients who have endured bad results at the hands of inexperienced surgeons. Today’s liposuction techniques are much safer and more predictable than ever before, but surgeon skill still remains the number one factor when researching this procedure. The goal is to attain a natural and smooth result. An experienced surgeon will be able to provide this outcome.

Combining Treatments?

In some cases, Dr. Chaffoo may recommend alternative treatments or procedures to pair with your liposuction surgery to better meet your goals. Liposuction is frequently combined with other body contouring procedures, like an arm or thigh lift, for a more comprehensive result. Dr. Chaffoo also often uses liposuction to improve the results of tummy tuck, body lift, and Mommy Makeover procedures, enhancing the results of those surgeries without affecting the recovery time.

Lipo, Tuck, or Lift?

One of the most important things patients from La Jolla and San Diego, CA should understand about liposuction is that it cannot tighten loose or sagging skin. If your fat deposits are accompanied by stretched skin, liposuction will only accentuate the drooping appearance. If this is the case, you may want to consider a different body contouring procedure such as a tummy tuck or body lift.

Many women are interested in refreshing their appearance after pregnancy, childbirth and breast feeding often choose an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) because it can remove some excess fat deposits, tighten loose skin, and mend abdominal muscles that were stretched during their pregnancy. However, many of these women also choose to combine their abdominoplasty with other procedures like breast augmentation for more comprehensive improvements (a Mommy Makeover).

How Much Weight Loss?

It's important to remember that liposuction is not a weight-loss procedure; it meant to contour areas of stubborn fat. You should be close to your ideal weight before undergoing the treatment. That said, there is no specific limit to the amount of fat that can be removed through liposuction. It's important to distinguish between the total amount of fluid and fat that is removed (called aspirate) and total fat removed. Plastic surgeons typically refer to aspirate when discussing volume. In general, if more than 6 – 8 pounds of fat needs to be removed, Dr. Chaffoo will perform separate procedures.

Do Fat Cells Come Back?

Fat cells removed by liposuction never come back. However, if a patient gains significant weight, the body's remaining fat cells will still enlarge. Small weight gains (less than 10% of a person's body weight) are not typically a major health concern, but they do usually result in existing fat cells enlarging. This is why it's a good idea for patients to stick to a healthy lifestyle and maintain a consistent weight after the treatment.

Reducing Cellulite?

No, liposuction is a fat-reduction procedure. Cellulite is caused by fibrous bands that pull the skin downward and cause surface dimpling. Liposuction does not address these bands.

Lipo or CoolSculpting®?

Dr. Chaffoo evaluates the specific body contouring needs of each patient during the complimentary consultation. CoolSculpting® offers our San Diego-area patients a nonsurgical method of reducing stubborn pockets of fat that don't respond to diet and exercise. Liposuction can get more dramatic results. In some cases, liposuction combined with CoolSculpting is the best way to achieve the patient's cosmetic goals. For patients who want the fat-reducing benefits of liposuction but would rather avoid surgery, CoolSculpting may be an effective alternative. If you're unsure which choice is best for you, Dr. Chaffoo can discuss all the factors at a complimentary consultation.

Scars After Lipo?

Because liposuction uses a fine cannula to suction away fatty tissue, the necessary incisions are very small, usually just a few millimeters. These do not leave any significant scars. Dr. Chaffoo also works to place these incisions in the most discreet locations possible, and our team provides you with detailed aftercare instructions to ensure quick, beautiful healing.

Traditional Vs. Smartlipo™?

Smartlipo is a minimally invasive, laser-assisted liposuction method that is typically associated with shorter procedure time and a faster, more comfortable recovery than traditional liposuction. The advanced Smartlipo TriPlex system Dr. Chaffoo uses tightens skin and can treat cellulite, which are benefits not available from traditional liposuction. Unlike tumescent liposuction or power-assisted liposuction (PAL), Smartlipo uses a laser fiber to liquefy fat cells before they are suctioned from the body.

By offering multiple types of liposuction, Dr. Chaffoo can recommend the treatment he believes will get the best results based on a thorough physical exam and your cosmetic goals. In some cases, Smartlipo can complement tumescent liposuction to get the optimal results.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.