Difference Between Tumescent Liposuction & Traditional Lipo

Difference Between Tumescent Liposuction & Traditional Lipo banner

Liposuction is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures in the United States. It involves removing or reducing excess fat in specific areas of the body, such as the hips, abdomen, upper arms, or thighs.

While liposuction is a generally minimally invasive procedure, it has historically come with a fair share of risks. However, new advancements in technology have allowed for a safer and overall more effective version of liposuction known as Tumescent lipo.

Tumescent lipo achieves the same end result as traditional liposuction without many of the associated risks. Let’s dive in and take a look at the major differences between both of these fat removal surgeries.

The Procedure

One of the most glaring differences between Tumescent and traditional lipo is how the procedure itself works. 


Before a plastic surgery, you will need some form of anesthesia in order to numb the area for your comfort. There are two main types: general and local anesthesia.

General anesthesia essentially puts you to sleep. While this is of great benefit during many different medical procedures, it comes with a fair share of risks. People with certain underlying conditions may be more prone to post-op confusion, pneumonia, or even a heart attack. Traditional liposuction usually requires general anesthesia.

However, local anesthesia blocks pain in specifically targeted areas, but otherwise leaves your brain untouched. For example, a doctor can use local anesthesia on just your thighs to numb that area during the procedure, but keep you fully alert and awake. Doctors usually prefer this as opposed to general anesthesia, and Tumescent liposuction only requires a local anesthetic.

The Injection

Liposuction works by making small incisions in a specific area. Then, a hollow tube called a cannula is placed into the incisions to break up and loosen excess fat. Once dislodged, the fat is removed with a syringe or vacuum.

While both Tumescent and traditional liposuction work in this same way, Tumescent liposuction incorporates an injection of epinephrine into the incision site beforehand. What this does is tighten the fatty layer of the skin to give the surgeon more control when contouring the area. Additionally, it causes the blood vessels to temporarily shrink, which greatly decreases bleeding during the surgery.

This makes Tumescent liposuction a much safer and effective alternative compared to traditional liposuction. For one, it gives the surgeon more control to help achieve a more desired appearance. And second, less blood loss means that the procedure will come with fewer complications.

The Recovery Process

Another area where Tumescent liposuction stands out above traditional liposuction is the recovery process. 

Without the risks associated with general anesthesia, Tumescent liposuction can make for a faster recovery time. In fact, you can be home within just a few hours after treatment. By contrast, traditional liposuction can sometimes require an overnight stay in a hospital.

Additionally, Tumescent liposuction usually requires smaller incisions when compared to traditional liposuction, which may mean that there are fewer scars, less intense swelling, and decreased bruising following the procedure. Finally, you will be able to resume exercise much more quickly after Tumescent lipo when compared to traditional liposuction.

What Makes a Good Candidate for Tumescent Liposuction?

Tumescent liposuction is a great way to remove stubborn fat deposits in certain areas of the body. If you feel uncomfortable with the amount of fat in your arms, buttocks, hips, thighs, abdomen, or other areas of the body, Tumescent lipo may be right for you.

A good candidate for Tumescent liposuction is someone who:

  • Has positive and realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure.

  • Non-smoker.

  • Is within 30% of their ideal body weight.

  • Does not have any life-threatening medical conditions.

Your plastic surgeon will be able to give you a better assessment during your consultation. During your consultation, make sure you ask any and all questions that you may have regarding the procedure. The goal is to make sure your surgery goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

Benefits of Tumescent Liposuction

Liposuction, and plastic surgery in general, has a profound benefit of being able to enhance your self-confidence and boost your self-image. It can allow you to feel fully comfortable in your own skin and give you the ability to express yourself in ways you may have never been able.

Also, removing excess fat may open up your options when it comes to your wardrobe. You may be able to wear tighter fitting clothing or swimsuits without worrying about chafing or becoming irritated.

Tumescent liposuction is also a much safer procedure compared to traditional liposuction. Since it doesn’t require general anesthesia and it uses an epinephrine injection to lessen bleeding, it comes with fewer risks of complications and a shorter recovery time.

Potential Risks

Despite its relative safety compared to traditional lipo, Tumescent liposuction is not without its risk of complication. With that said, they’re rare and typically minor.

The main risk is that the surgery will not look exactly as you were hoping. While your surgeon is experienced, there are many factors that may affect the end result. You may need a subsequent procedure in order to get the results you’re looking for.

Other common complications include lumpiness on the skin, skin irregularity, loose skin, dimpling, infection at the site of incision, minimal scarring, or numbness. If these occur, they can be easily corrected in most circumstances.

Other Alternatives to Traditional Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction is a safer alternative to traditional lipo, but you may be able to utilize another type of cosmetic procedure that is even less invasive. These can normally be done on individuals who have less fat that needs to be reduced.

Liposuction with J-Plasma

J-plasma liposuction is similar to Tumescent liposuction in that it uses an injection before any incisions are made. This injection turns helium gas into plasma to help lift, tighten, and rejuvenate the skin.

This is a great procedure to help reduce the appearance of brown spots, age spots, and wrinkles while simultaneously helping to remove stubborn fat. It can help give your appearance that signature depth and tone. And the best part? It only requires incisions that are smaller than 5 mm in size.


If you have mild to moderate fat deposits that won’t respond to diet or exercise, a Thermi treatment might be perfect. These are non-invasive, meaning your skin will never need to be broken and no incisions are necessary.

Thermi works by using radiofrequency waves to heat the skin and subdermal fat. This damages the fat beyond repair, allowing your body’s lymphatic system to gradually remove damaged cells from the area.

This procedure simultaneously eliminates small amounts of fat while also tightening the surrounding skin, making it a great option for people who want to contour their body but are still afraid of surgical procedures.

PH-1 Miami is proud to offer Thermi as a non-surgical treatment to our clients. If this is something that interests you, fill out our inquiry form and let us know how we can turn your body into your best body.


While Thermi uses heat to damage fat, CoolSculpting is a non-surgical procedure that uses freezing instead. It uses a technology called cryolipolysis, in which intense cold is delivered to fatty tissue. Fat freezes at a higher temperature than skin, muscle, and nerves, allowing the CoolSculpting to reduce stubborn fat without damaging surrounding structures.

After the cells become damaged, your body will eliminate the destroyed cells within a few months, similar to Thermi.

In Conclusion

Liposuction is a popular plastic surgery for a reason. It’s an effective way to reduce fat and give your body that desirable contour. However, traditional liposuction comes with risks associated with anesthesia and bleeding. This is where Tumescent lipo stands out.

Through the Tumescent technique, an injection of epinephrine tightens the skin and constricts the blood vessels. This allows the doctor to have more control over your skin’s contour while also minimizing bleeding. Also, it only requires local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia.

The recovery process for Tumescent lipo is also shorter than traditional lipo because there is less swelling and smaller incisions. It can help give you a new breadth of confidence to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin.

There’s another type of liposuction that uses J-plasma, and it works in a similar way. Additionally, you can try using a Thermi treatment that requires no incisions and can heat up subdermal fat to a point beyond repair.

Regardless, if you’re looking to shed some stubborn fat, PH-1 Miami would love to add you to our list of happy clients. With an office located in sunny Miami, Florida, come take a trip and return home looking like a brand new you.

Fill out our inquiry form right here to get started.


Strategies for Reducing Fatal Complications in Liposuction | NCBI

General Anesthesia | The Mayo Clinic

Tumescent Liposuction | University of California San Francisco Health

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