Newport Beach | San Diego Liposuction | Lipo Cost La Jolla | Tim Sayed, MD, FACS


Liposuction – San Diego

Worldwide, liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. Lipo is the cornerstone of many commonly performed body contouring procedures, including Brazilian buttlifting, hi definition abdominal liposculpture, and cosmetic and reconstructive fat grafting. The procedure is performed to reduce fat excess in troublesome body locations, improving the contour or shape of the body. While not done to cause weight loss, liposuction can be part of a comprehensive plan to improve one’s physique.

Surgical fat removal involves placing a fluid cocktail of medications into the adipose (fatty) layer of the body in the treatment area(s), and these medications and saline solution help to prepare the tissues for safe fat removal, by reducing the risk of bleeding, providing local anesthetic medications to reduce postoperative pain, and creating some separation of tissues to allow the fat to be more effectively extracted. This fluid is called tumescent fluid for the effect that it has on making the tissues swell and become somewhat firm prior to fat removal. Sometimes, liposuction is aided by the use of devices like ultrasound (we like the Vaser brand) or lasers, which deliver energy that helps break apart the fat cells. These energy modalities may also make the skin tighten up more effectively after the fat removal, giving a better skin retraction effect and hopefully a smoother result.

Treatment must be done carefully by skilled surgeons and teams who understand the anatomy and physiology of the treatment areas. Some of the most commonly addressed problem areas that liposuction may help include:

  • The abdomen (upper, central, and lower)
  • The flanks
  • The inner thighs, outer thighs (saddlebags) and posterior thighs (area below the buttocks)
  • The bra rolls
  • The upper and lower back
  • The inner knees
  • The armpit bulges above and outside the breasts
  • The area below the chin (submental)
  • The breast, especially in males with gynecomastia (abnormal male breast enlargement)
  • The jowls
  • The buffalo hump area at the base of the nape of the neck in patients with certain conditions
  • The upper arms

Fat removal is commonly performed in combination with cosmetic surgery of other areas of the face, breast and body, including facelifts, tummy tucks, breast lifts and breast augmentation, breast reductions, brachioplasties (armlifts), thighlifts, and other procedures.


View real patient before & after results in our photo gallery.

before and after en bloc with mastopexy, abdominoplasty, and liposuction front view female patient case 1

Liposuction 101

Liposuction acts by disrupting fat cells, allowing fatty tissues to be suctioned into long wand-like devices called “cannulas” (or, more properly, cannulae). These are hollow-bore sterile surgical instruments that collect fat into canisters, where the fat can potentially be processed further for reinjection into other areas in fat grafting, if desired. If fat grafting is not being performed, the suctioned fat is discarded at the end of the procedure.

Safe fat removal includes properly planning the procedure by marking the zones of treatment and accounting for the amount of fluid that needs to be introduced compared to the expected amount of fat to be removed. There are recommended guidelines for the amount of fat that can be recruited in a given procedure, which depend in part on whether other procedures are being performed.

Recovery after liposuction requires the use of special garments (think of them like medical Spanx-like girdles and body suits), which help reduce the postoperative swelling, aid in the retraction and tightening of skin, and provide a smoothing effect on the way the skin redrapes over the treated areas. In most cases, these garments are fitted preop and are recommended for up to 3 months of use. Adjustments and additional garments may be needed as swelling subsides in the recovery period.

It is critical to understand that lipo is NOT a weight loss operation. You will not be told to expect to lose massive amounts of weight with treatment. The purpose is for body shaping, which may give the illusion of significant weight improvement even if the reduction in weight is quite modest.

Liposuction before and after
Liposuction anatomy

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If you’re in the San Diego or Newport Beach areas and have any questions about liposuction or wish to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sayed, please contact our office.

Liposuction FAQ’s

Some of our selection criteria to include you as a candidate include:

  • Excessive or bulging fat in problem areas of concern, which may include the abdomen, flanks, breasts, thighs, bra lines, back, knees, submental region and other areas
  • Enough fat in the treatment areas to be able to harvest enough fat to help achieve the desired outcome – some patients can only obtain a modest contouring improvement due to their minimal body fat
  • General good health, meaning you do not have major uncorrected cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney or other major organ conditions, and would be able to be medically cleared for general anesthesia by an internal medicine physician if you are over a certain age
  • Not pregnant or immediately planning to become pregnant
  • Nonsmoker or willing to commit to NO NICOTINE IN ANY FORM for at least 3 weeks preop and for the duration of your recovery
  • A body mass index below 35 and ideally below 30 for optimal results, with rare exceptions
  • Available support system of friends, family, caregivers or others who can help you to keep your appointments, complete your preop and postop tasks, and emotionally bolster you through this exciting journey
  • Reasonable expectations of how much contouring improvement is possible with specific techniques

Most lipo procedures about 20-30 minutes per major area treated. For example, lipo of the lower abdomen is about a 30-minute procedure, but a full abdomen may be more like an hour in length. As you add areas to the treatment plan, the surgical duration will increase. More significant liposuction procedures addressing the back and abdomen, with the flanks and bra rolls, may take 3 hours or so from start to finish, especially given that the patient needs to be repositioned in surgery. A hallmark of patient safety is to try to limit the amount of total surgery time to around 6 hours or less for outpatient procedures, and most of our lipo cases take anywhere between 1 and 3 hours.

Most liposuction procedures are performed on an outpatient basis in an AAAASF-certified operating room, meaning the facility is up to very high standards of accreditation. Patients usually spend up to a couple hours in the postoperative suite before being discharged in the care of a companion, family member or friend. Dr. Sayed gives a 24-hour phone number to all patients who can reach him for urgent questions, and we also issue access to a patient engagement application that allows the patient or companion/caregiver to send SMS messages, photos, video and other content to our team in a secure, private digital format. This keeps us mutually informed on your recovery and allows us to update your instructions while requiring a respectful number of face-to-face visits in the office.

Early postop recovery findings can include pain (which feels like a heavy post-workout muscle cramping pain in most cases), mild nausea, bruising and swelling, numbness or diminished sensation in the skin, and some mental adjustment to the process of healing which most patients undergo. Some patients may develop small fluid collections called seromas in the early weeks after surgery, though we try to prevent these. Most patients are advised to take up to 2 weeks out of social circulation and we’d prefer that you not drive yourself in the first 14 days or as long as you are taking any prescription pain medication. Most sutures are dissolvable but there may be a few that need to be removed at around 14 days postop. You may or may not have drains in place (depending on the treatment areas), which are usually removed in the office at 7 to 10 days.

We ask that you abstain from exercise for 1 week and then return to light fitness routines after that. It is very important that you get up and walk even the first night following your procedure. You will be asked to wear a surgical garment for about 3 months, and it will be easiest for you if you wear tops that button down in the front in the first 3 weeks or so. Dr. Sayed and his team provide close postop care in the office and with our remote engagement tools. You will be asked to take some supplement medications to aid in your recovery, which may include medications for pain, bruising, swelling, constipation, and dietary optimization.

Remember: liposuction is not a weight loss operation.

Patients who are overweight related to genetic, dietary and fitness factors are not going to be “cured” by this procedure. Mild areas of problem fat may have permanent improvement, but if you gain significant weight, you may also gain weight in areas previously treated, as the body’s fat cells have a remarkable ability to take on extra fat over time even when some of the fat cells were previously removed. This is part of the reason it is important to try to balance your goals for body physique improvement with a combination of diet and exercise modification, with liposuction serving as a “finishing touch” or occasionally as a “jumpstarter.” It is better not to think of surgical fat removal as a weight-related procedure and rather as one for improving body self-image and the possibility the ability to find better fitting clothing, as a consequence of improved contours.

  • Have a reasonable expectation of what surgery can accomplish
  • Have a clear idea of which areas you want and don’t want to be treated – we will repeatedly ask you to confirm what you want to focus on, as liposuction is often priced per area of treatment
  • Don’t smoke or take nicotine in any form for at least 3 weeks and ideally longer before (and after) surgery
  • Stay well rested and well hydrated and eat a nutritious diet balanced with plenty of protein
  • If your diet is lacking in vitamins, take vitamin C and zinc supplementation but ask Dr. Sayed about other supplements. We have a list of ingredients we ask you to avoid in the immediate preop phase to optimize healing and minimize bleeding risk
  • Designate a caretaker who can help you through the first 3-5 days after your treatment, or longer if you have multiple areas treated
  • Maintain your weight at a target which we can set together based on your body mass index (BMI) – ideally, we’d like to help you get it below 30, but there is a reasonable range depending on other factors. In some cases, we may ask you to some weight preop to optimize your preoperative risk

We don’t like to publish pricing as it is subject to market changes and dependent on the types of procedures you consider. Review our Pricing page to build a “wishlist” and get estimated pricing on liposuction or a combination of procedures. We also have a fee schedule available in the office after your consultation. Feel free to contact our San Diego office for a pre-consultation and we are happy to provide more information. The cost of your surgery will partly depend on where you have it and how much time we think it will take based on your body frame and the number and locations of areas you want to be treated. Procedures that involve the front and back will require repositioning in the operating room, which is factored into operating time estimates at the time of your quote.

Through liposuction, you can eliminate excess fat in various areas of your body, including:

  • Submental, or under the chin
  • Jowls
  • Neck
  • Breasts
  • Abdomen
  • Bra rolls
  • Back
  • Flanks
  • Upper arms
  • Thighs
  • Inner knees

Depending on your overall concerns, you can target unwanted fat in multiple sites of your body. After a detailed consultation to understand your goals, Dr. Sayed and our team can devise a plan to help you attain your aesthetic objectives through liposuction.

Common side effects of liposuction include swelling and bruising around the surgical site. But these effects resolve in a few weeks after your surgery. You may also experience pain around the surgical area. You can manage it through medications that are prescribed to you by your medical team.

To ensure you make your decision from a place of transparency, Dr. Sayed makes it a point to explain these side effects along with other risks of liposuction to you during your initial appointment.

Immediately after your liposuction, you may feel a bit lighter around the treatment area. However, due to swelling and bruising associated with the procedure, you cannot see the full extent of your results. Typically, it is only after 12 weeks that the swelling and bruising subsides enough for you to determine how liposuction has contoured and toned your area of concern. Your final results may take up to a year.

Liposuction effectively extracts fat cells from the treatment area. Once removed, these fat cells do not come back. Typically, you only see any unwanted bulges of fat in the treatment area if you gain an excessive amount of weight after liposuction. By practicing weight management through a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise approach, you can enjoy your liposuction results for years to come.

Depending on the extent of your liposuction procedure, you may need up to 2 weeks off from work. This time allows you the help to recover at home with necessary medications and post-op instructions. In turn, you can avoid complications to ensure a healthy recovery following your surgery.

Before your liposuction, Dr. Sayed will advise you on how much time off work you may need in your specific case, allowing you to plan your professional responsibilities.

Drains are small devices to gather excess blood from the surgical site. You may need them in select cases of liposuction where your doctor thinks they can aid your recovery and prevent infections.

Depending on your liposuction goals, Dr. Sayed can determine if you need to wear drains after your surgery. If you do, Dr. Sayed and our team provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your drains. Drains are then typically removed within 7 to 10 days after your surgery.

Typically, you can resume light exercise a week after your liposuction. If you want to do intensive weight training, you may have to hold back from the practice for 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.

After your follow-up visits, Dr. Sayed and our team will help you determine how soon you can return to your intensive exercise regimen.

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