Liposuction Incisions and Scarring

One of the questions we hear a lot about liposuction is whether it leaves scars. Generally, what we’re talking about when we say scars are visible scars. Any time you puncture the skin, whether that’s with a circular biopsy punch, a scalpel, or through an injury, there will be scarring. Regardless of how well an incision heals, under a microscope, there will always be a scar. The question most people are concerned about is whether the scar will be visible to the naked eye. However, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a “scarless” liposuction procedure. Modern liposuction is minimally invasive but it does require making some small incisions – however the possibility of visible scarring from liposuction is very minimal, and generally is not something most people need to worry about. 

First, let’s talk about the incision points. Liposuction is minimally invasive, but it is still surgery, unlike a non-surgical fat removal procedure such as CoolSculpting. All liposuction cases require making small incisions in the skin in order to suction fat from the area. Prior to the incision, the area is numbed with local anesthetic. Most of the time these incisions are made with a circular punch – no scalpels involved. When using the SmartLipo device, for most body areas we typically use a 2mm punch. With certain areas, like chin liposuction, we create an even smaller incision with a 1mm biopsy punch. That’s very, very small. 

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A 2mm biopsy punch used in most laser liposuction cases

Lipo Incision Locations

There aren’t any specific areas where incision points are made for a liposuction case; each case is unique. Some surgeons may make incisions through the belly button, or along the waistband. It will depend on the area(s) being addressed and the location of fat deposits. Whenever possible, these tiny incisions are made in unobtrusive areas that you aren’t likely to notice in the mirror, and the number of incisions is kept to a minimum. As you might guess, the smaller the incision, the smaller the scar.

Using our minimally-invasive  technique, the risk of scarring is greatly reduced and the size of scars are kept to the absolute minimum.  

Factors that Affect Scarring

Not all lipo patients develop visible scars as a result of the procedure, but some do. Whether an incision from liposuction will leave a scar is determined largely by your skin (which includes factors like age and genetics – some people simply scar more easily than others). If you do have scarring from liposuction it will most likely appear as a small dot about the size of a freckle. In most cases, a scar this size will fade slowly over the next six months until it is no longer noticeable. 

In some cases, you may have hyperpigmentation at the incision site. Hyperpigmentation is when skin becomes darker in one area due to an excess of melanin. This is more common with darker-skinned patients, but can happen to anyone. You should be aware that hyperpigmentation is a potential outcome, and be comfortable with this risk before undergoing the procedure. 

Hyperpigmentation scars, like all scars will fade slowly over time. It is important to keep the area out of the sun, as frequent sun exposure can interfere with healing. 

Some patients may have a tendency to develop keloid scars, which is where the skin produces too much collagen during the healing process, resulting in a raised scar. This is not common with the small punches used during liposuction, but if you have a tendency to develop keloid scars, discuss this with your surgeon prior to surgery.  

Liposuction Examples

Liposuction scars, when they do occur, aren’t very noticeable and appear as small dots or freckles that disappear over the next six months. 

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In this first image taken at 3 months, you can see there are no visible scars resulting from the procedure. 

In this photo, also taken at three months post procedure, we can see some small hyperpigmentation on the lateral abdominal incision. These small “freckles” will continue to fade over the next several months. 

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