Liposuction involves the surgical suctioning of fat deposits from specific parts of the body, the most common being the abdomen (the "tummy"), buttocks ("behind"), hips, thighs and knees, chin, upper arms, back, and calves. Liposuction breaks up and "sucks" fat out of the body. This is done through a cannula (a hollow instrument) inserted subdermally (under the skin). A strong vacuum is applied to the cannula.
In ultrasonic-assisted liposuction (UAL), the cannula is energized with ultrasonic energy, causing the fat to melt away on contact, an advantage in areas of scar tissue such as the male breast, back, and in areas of prior liposuction. The disadvantages of UAL include the need for longer incisions in the skin, potential for skin or internal burns, greater cost, and longer time.
No matter how liposuction is done, it is considered completely cosmetic in nature. It is, in fact, now the most common cosmetic operation in the U. S. with over 400,000 such surgical procedures done annually.