American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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High-definition liposuction vs liposuction – what's the difference?


high-definition liposuction

Liposuction is overall one of the most popular body contouring procedures performed by plastic surgeons. It consistently ranks in the top five cosmetic procedures performed annually because patients love that they can finally resolve stubborn fat that just won't go away with diet and exercise alone.

Although it is a classic procedure, the various techniques and technologies used to perform liposuction have evolved over the last few decades. These changes mainly involve the use of specific cannulas, power assist devices and energy devices to make fat removal easier and gentler.

One of the newer options for liposuction is a procedure known as "high-definition" liposuction. But what's the difference? Here's what you should know about these procedures.

What is liposuction?

Traditional liposuction is a surgical procedure designed to remove pockets of stubborn fat to improve the size of a specific area, like the stomach, hips or thighs. Typically, traditional liposuction removes fat evenly across the treatment area for a sleek look.

What is high-definition liposuction?

High-definition liposuction uses similar techniques to those used in traditional liposuction. Various cannulas are still used to suction fat. The procedure can be performed with manual cannulas or power-assist devices in combination with energy-based devices.

However, high-definition liposuction involves the surgeon approaching the fat removal process differently from traditional techniques, precisely sculpting the treatment area to improve its contours and muscular definition.

Why high-definition liposuction is unique

The idea behind high-definition liposuction is to remove (and sometimes add) different amounts of fat in specific areas of the body to create a three-dimensional result. Fat is also removed in various layers to create the patient's desired contours.

In the abdomen, for example, "negative spaces" are created by removing additional fat between the stomach muscle groups to create the appearance of more defined muscles. The amount of muscular definition the patient wants is discussed preoperatively to assess his or her aesthetic goals.

More fat is suctioned in the area of the negative space and less fat is suctioned between the spaces to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth. The horizontal lines between the rectus muscle are also defined to give the appearance of a "six-pack".

In male patients, the anterior serratus muscles, which are located on the upper sides of the ribcage, can also be defined for a sculpted look. Similar techniques are used in the male chest to create a more athletic chiseled appearance. Liposuction combined with gland excision can be used to enhance the masculine appearance of the chest.

Creating negative space around the pectorals frames the chest. In addition, fat grafting (adding the patient's own fat) can be performed near the top of the chest to add muscular bulk to this area.

To improve the back of the body in both men and women, negative spaces are highlighted near muscles in the lower and upper back. In male patients, this gives the highly desirable "V" shape highlighting the muscle bulk of the area. In addition, the rear flanks behind the hips are aggressively suctioned to create the "V" taper appearance of the male abdomen and an hourglass silhouette for the female patient.

Fat grafting with high-definition liposuction

Often, fat grafting is performed during high-definition liposuction to add muscular bulk in certain muscle groups and enhance the overall high-definition contoured result. Fat is taken from one area of the body and is transferred to the treatment areas. These areas can include the deltoid, biceps, calves and buttocks in men.

In women, fat grafting is often used in the buttocks to add volume and shape to enhance the feminine silhouette. Fat grafting may also be performed to improve the waist to hip ratio and accentuate the hourglass appearance.

Surgeons need to evaluate areas where fat grafting can and should be performed during the high-definition liposuction procedure to optimize results for the individual patient.

Getting the best results from high-definition liposuction

A comprehensive approach to high-definition body contouring by analyzing and understanding the various muscle groups as well as evaluating areas for fat grafting is critical for creating the best possible results. Removing and adding fat strategically can create incredible 3-dimensional results that elevate standard liposuction results.

High-definition liposuction is often performed with the use of vibrational amplification of sound energy at resonance (VASER). This involves using ultrasound technology to break up the fat and make the extraction process safer and more precise, with less physical work needed by the surgeon. It also allows fat to be suctioned superficially to the skin, which is necessary for the hi-definition result.

High-definition liposuction does have a steep learning curve, so it's important to choose an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the procedure. Patients must also follow all the recovery instructions provided by their surgeon to promote proper healing and good results. Postoperative compression garments, massage and closed suctioned drains are part of the recovery protocol.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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