Power-Assisted Liposuction

Power-Assisted Liposuction

Power-Assisted Liposuction: How it Works, Benefits, and Recovery

Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries performed today. In 2020 alone, over 200,000 liposuction procedures were carried out in the U.S. [1] This body contouring treatment aims to remove stubborn fat resistant to diet and exercise. Power-assisted liposuction is a technique that uses a powered cannula to facilitate fat removal. But what exactly is power-assisted lipo and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look at the mechanics, benefits, recovery, and costs associated with this method.

What is Power Assisted Liposuction?

Power-assisted liposuction uses a powered cannula that rapidly moves back and forth to break up and suction out fat. This allows the surgeon to remove fat more quickly and with less effort compared to traditional manual liposuction.

A pneumatic-powered device is attached to the cannula and programmed to reciprocate at rates from 2,000 to 4,000 cpm (cycles per minute). This automates the fat removal process, though the surgeon still guides the direction of movement.

Some branded power-assisted lipo devices include LipoLife, PowerXT, and MicroAire. This technique can be used to remove larger volumes of fat more efficiently.

How Does Power-Assisted Liposuction Work?

The MicroAir Power-Assisted Liposuction machine is the most popular PALS machine.
The MicroAir Power-Assisted Liposuction machine is the most popular PALS machine.

Power-assisted liposuction is performed in a similar manner to traditional lipo but involves a powered cannula. Here are the basic steps:

  1. The surgeon makes small incisions around the area to be treated. These allow for the insertion of the cannula.
  2. Tumescent fluid is infused into the fatty area. This provides anesthesia, constricts blood vessels, and expands the tissue.
  3. The power-assisted cannula is inserted through an incision. Rapid reciprocating movements help loosen and break up fat.
  4. The loose fat particles are then suctioned out gently as the surgeon guides the cannula through the treatment zone.
  5. Additional tumescent fluid is infused as needed to swell the tissues and allow for thorough fat removal.
  6. Once the desired contour is achieved, incisions are closed and compression garments are applied.

Power-assisted lipo allows fat removal comparable to traditional lipo but with less exertion required by the surgeon.

Benefits of Power-Assisted Liposuction

Some benefits associated with power-assisted liposuction include:

Time Savings

The powered cannula can remove fat around 2-3x faster than manual liposuction. Large areas can be addressed in less time.

Physical Ease for Surgeon

The automated cannula movement reduces strain on the surgeon compared to forceful manual suctioning. This enhances control and stamina.

Reduced Risk of Fatigue Errors

By reducing hand fatigue for the surgeon, power-assisted lipo may lower the risks of uneven results or complications.

Ability to Treat Larger Areas

The time savings and reduced fatigue of power lipo enable the treatment of more extensive zones in a single session.

Potential for Improved Skin Retraction

The vibrating cannula may help stimulate skin retraction after underlying fat is removed.

For those seeking significant fat removal over large areas, power-assisted liposuction can complete the treatment more efficiently.

Power assisted liposuction of back routinely used to optimize fat removal
Power assisted liposuction of back routinely used to optimize fat removal

Recovery After Power Assisted Liposuction

Power-assisted lipo does not require a substantially different recovery than traditional liposuction. Typical postoperative guidelines include:

  • Wearing a compression garment for 4-6 weeks.
  • Avoiding strenuous physical activity for 10-14 days.
  • Expect swelling, bruising, and mild discomfort for up to 10 days.
  • Returning to non-physical work within 3-5 days.
  • Seeing final results within 3-6 months.

Swelling dissipates gradually over the first eight weeks. Avoiding weight gain helps maintain improved body contours long-term.

Cost of Power-Assisted Liposuction

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of power-assisted liposuction is approximately $3,181 per area treated. [2] However, cost can range from $1,500 – $6,000 depending on factors like:

  • Surgeon fees and experience level
  • Extent of correction needed
  • Number of body areas being treated
  • Geographic location

Power-assisted lipo costs more than traditional lipo but may enable treating more areas in a single session for an overall cost savings per area. It is considered cosmetic and not typically covered by insurance.

Finding a Qualified Surgeon

It is vital to have power-assisted liposuction performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Be sure to select a surgeon who:

  • Specializes in body contouring procedures
  • Is trained in power-assisted lipo specifically
  • Operates in an accredited surgical facility
  • Carries proper credentials like ABPS board certification

An expert surgeon with specialized power lipo experience provides the best safety and aesthetic results.

Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) used in back contouring
Our patient benefitted from Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) used in back contouring.

Is Power-Assisted Lipo Right for You?

Good candidates for power-assisted liposuction include those who:

  • Have larger areas or volumes of fat be removed
  • Have good skin elasticity
  • Are close to their ideal body weight
  • Do not smoke or can quit several weeks before surgery
  • Have realistic expectations for treatment zones and results

Those with just smaller localized areas to treat may do better with traditional manual lipo or laser lipo.

The Takeaway on Power-Assisted Liposuction

Power-assisted liposuction uses an automated reciprocating cannula to remove fat more quickly and easily during liposuction surgery. Benefits include time savings, less surgeon fatigue, and the ability to treat more extensive zones efficiently. It does not alter the recovery process substantially. When performed skillfully by a board-certified plastic surgeon, power-assisted lipo allows for safe, effective contouring of larger treatment areas. For those with more demanding fat removal needs, power liposuction can deliver impressive body-shaping results.


[1] American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. Accessed Nov 20, 2022. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2020/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2020.pdf

[2] American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Liposuction Cost. Accessed Nov 20, 2022. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction/cost

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