Can I Get Smartlipo Under Local Anesthesia?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in either smartlipo or lipo dissolve for my abdomen/love handles. I was wondering if you do Smart lipo under local anesthetic or if you require going under general (I really do not want to go under general anesthetic). Also, I was wondering if you knew approx costs for those procedures.

A: Any form of liposuction, like most surgeries, can be done under local anesthesia. The potential use of local anesthesia is a common inquiry in regards to liposuction. The question is not whether liposuction can be done under local anesthesia but whether it should. Contrary to popular perception and much marketing, the results from doing liposuction under local anesthesia versus general are not the same. Often the results are not even remotely comparable in my experience. The results from any liposuction endeavor is entirely dependent on effort and being thorough. While local anesthesia provides some pain reduction, it is rarely enough to do a good job of maximal fat extraction. The patient’s level of discomfort always becomes a limiting factor. The size of the operative field that must be made numb in liposuction is quite different than that of just a small surgical incision.

I honor patient’s requests to do liposuction under local anesthesia but I caution them that one must be prepared to accept much less of a result. This is particularly true in large areas like the abdomen and flanks. (i.e., love handles) Interestingly, and quite surprisingly, the cost of liposuction under local anesthesia will ultimately cost more than if done under general anesthesia. The simple explanation is that it often takes two or three times the amount of time for me to do liposuction under local anesthesia than what can be accomplished much faster (and better)  under general anesthesia.

In addition, lipodissolve injections are no longer done for significant fat removal and are certainly not a replacement or alternative to any form of liposuction.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana