The Evolution Of Liposuction

posted on:
November 30th, 2020
posted by:
Dr. Thomas Bell, MD

It’s actually quite remarkable how far the technology and the techniques used for liposuction procedures have evolved over the years.

It is currently the second most popular plastic surgery in North America (behind breast augmentation) with over 260,000 procedures performed last year. The results have never been more advanced and the results have never looked better.

When we meet with a patient for the first time, we field a lot of the usual questions like, “So how much is liposuction in Toronto compared to other cities?” But every now and then we get asked about the actual technology.

“How long has it been around? How has it changed over the years?”

But liposuction has not always been as safe and affordable as it is today. To give you an idea of how far we have come, here’s a look at the history of liposuction.

The 1960s and 1970s

Although liposuction has been around in one form or another since the 1920s, the version we’re all familiar with didn’t really come into widespread fashion until the 1960s.

In the 60s, European surgeons began to experiment with different techniques to cut away portions of unwanted fat. The early 1970s saw the introduction of a technique known as curettage. Surgeons attempted to scrape away fat with surgical instruments called curettes.

However, the outcomes were still far from ideal and the results were very inconsistent.

A major breakthrough arrived a few years later when an Italian father and son team of gynecologists replaced curettage with a cannula. Dr. Arpad Fischer and Dr. Giorgio Fischer were the first to use the cannula to remove the fat from their patients’ thighs.

Next, Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz and Dr. Pierre Fournier built on these methods by improving the design of the cannula. They also introduced their innovative “wet technique,” which involved saline solution (saltwater) being injected into the treatment area prior to suction.

They also introduced a crisscross method of fat removal and started using post-op compression to support the treated areas. These innovations led to easier fat removal, and better overall outcomes for the patients.

The 1980s

The techniques and tools continued to move forward in the 1980s with the introduction of tumescent liposuction.

Dr. Fournier began using a local anesthetic (lidocaine) to help make liposuction patients more comfortable during procedures. Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein would build on this a few years later by using epinephrine to shrink capillaries.

The foundation for modern liposuction was there, but the tools and methods still had a long way to go. For example, the cannulas used in the 1980s were 25 times larger than the modern 2 mm micro-cannula.

The 1990s

The liposuction procedure gained more notoriety and public attention in the 90s. However, it was still rather expensive and it was only accessible to actors, models and celebrities.

The technology and techniques evolved, which yielded better results for patients. Most importantly, we saw the introduction of ultrasonic-assisted and power-assisted liposuction (UAL/PAL).

Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction (UAL) was developed by Italian professor Michele Zocchi in 1992. This technology could now use energy to help remove fat and protect the nerve tissue.

Meanwhile, power-assisted liposuction (PAL) involves a cannula using pulses to help break up fat for easier extraction. This technique received approval for use in 1998 and set the tone for what plastic surgery would look like heading into the 21st century.

The Modern Era

That brings us to today. There has truly never been a better time to get liposuction.

The tools being used by today’s surgeons are incredibly advanced. This means that the risks of liposuction have never been lower and the results have never looked better.

Liposuction is also not just reserved for models and A-list celebrities. The very best technology is now readily available and easily affordable for anyone who needs a little bit of help to get their dream body. We also offer financing options to make the cost of liposuction even more affordable.

It’s also important to know that there is no longer just one form of liposuction. Our clinic currently offers 3 different types, available to be performed in the form of female liposuction or male liposuction:

BodyTite™ Lipo (Radiofrequency Energy)

You can expect to see soft tissue contraction of about 40-50% over 12 months with BodyTite Lipo.

The industry-leading technology releases radiofrequency energy that melts and coagulates the unwanted fat. It’s far more gentle than traditional methods, while the technology has the best-reported safety controls and soft tissue contraction on the market today.

Dr. Mulholland is recognized as a pioneer of BodyTite liposuction and he is the author of the authoritative BodyTite Text Book. At the same time, Dr. Bray is one of Canada’s foremost experts on BodyTite.

Vaser Liposuction (Ultrasound Energy)

Vaser Lipo releases ultrasonic energy that gently (and painlessly) vibrates to destroy fat cells. This turns the fat into a milkshake-like substance that can easily be removed from localized areas of excess.

This is likely the procedure that you will want to go with if you’re considering possible fat grafting procedures like a Brazilian butt lift, breast augmentation, or facial fat transplantation. Vaser liposuction is gentle and enables your surgeon to preserve the fat.

The technology’s only real drawback is a lack of significant soft tissue contraction. Your surgeon may need to augment your procedure with other energy-assisted devices to ensure that you’re getting the best results possible.

SmartLipo™ (Laser Energy)

Studies prove that SmartLipo can help you achieve a 17% increase in skin contraction and a 25% improvement in skin elasticity. The technology also minimizes the risks of irregularities and laxity.

The procedure involves your surgeon utilizing laser energy to liquefy the fat, which sets up easy aspiration with a micro-cannula. This means that there is almost no bruising.

You might consider our non-invasive Smart liposuction over Vaser Lipo because the heat creates a simultaneous contraction and tightening of the skin. This sets you up for the best possible body contouring and skin tightening outcomes. It is also a great alternative to more invasive incisional procedures like tummy tucks, arm lifts, thigh lifts, and neck lifts.

Our Liposuction Follow-up

All of our liposuction patients will also undergo a second phase of the body contouring journey.

This includes complementary:

  • Non-surgical skin tightening
  • Localized fat reduction
  • Muscle toning procedures

This takes place about 12 weeks after liposuction procedures to ensure the absolute best results.

As always, diet and exercise are crucial parts of protecting your results. However, you don’t want to try to rush back into the gym right away. Speak to your surgeon about your lifestyle and they will let you know exactly when it is safe to return to your usual activities.

Modern liposuction requires very little downtime, but you will still want to err on the side of caution.

Non-surgical Alternatives to Liposuction

This modern age also offers non-surgical body contouring technology. In fact, there are so many options that it may seem overwhelming.

We are proud to be one of Canada’s leading non-surgical fat reduction centres. We realize that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to body contouring. Different bodies will react differently to different treatments.

The best non-surgical outcomes come from using a customized combination of two or more technologies that work in synergistic and summative ways. You get the very best results by properly assessing which combination will help each patient achieve their goals.

Our clinic offers the following non-surgical body contouring options:


With more than 7 million CoolSculpting treatment cycles performed worldwide, it remains one of the most popular non-surgical fat-reduction procedures in the world.

This fat-freezing technique destroys fat cells in often-troubled areas like the abdomen, back, thighs, arms, and jaw.


SculpSure is a non-invasive laser body contouring procedure that helps treat unwanted fat on the belly, love handles, back, thighs, and under the chin. This is done in 25-minute sessions, with absolutely no downtime.


Our innovative thermal skin tightening treatment provides localized permanent fat destruction and muscle toning. This gives our patients total tissue body contouring and amazing results.

Evolve individually targets all tissues and provides incredible results, with no downtime or recovery time.


Vanquish gently removes fat in the tummy, hips, and thighs using cutting-edge radiofrequency/ microwave technology.

The treatments preserve the skin and muscle, while giving our patients the body contouring results they are looking for.


People are raving about the results they have seen from their EMsculpt body-contouring treatments.

The technology has helped some people see a 19% reduction in fat cells, and a 16% increase in muscle fibres, after just four treatments. Another study reported a 10% reduction in diastasis recti, which is the abdominal separation that pregnant women often experience.


This non-invasive approach achieves permanent fat cell death, skin tightening, and cellulite reduction by using electrical pulses to cause a reduction in localized areas.

It tightens your skin, while it diminishes unwanted fat at the same time.

Venus Freeze

The Venus Freeze is one of our most popular treatments because it gives our patients a combination of body contouring and anti-ageing treatments. It utilizes state-of-the-art radiofrequency technology to tighten skin, reduce cellulite, and shrink fat.

It also gently heats the skin to cause an increase in collagen and elastin. This tightens loose skin, while ridding stubborn areas of body fat and cellulite.


Our Exilis treatments use a radiofrequency device to reduce fat and repair sagging skin. It’s a very popular way to treat saggy jowls, wrinkled cheeks, and turkey neck.

Patients will often see noticeable body contouring, skin tightening, fat reduction, and cellulite reduction in as little as 6 weeks.

VelaShape 3

Dr. Mulholland led the pioneering of the ground-breaking VelaShape technology. It uses a non-invasive radiofrequency device to create striking results in skin tightening, body contouring, and reducing cellulite.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider. Our team will work closely with you to determine which combination of treatments will give you the best possible results. True success comes from truly customized plans.

The Modern-Day Post-Liposuction Experience

The advancements that we have covered today all contribute to more gentle procedures with very minimal downtime.

On the first day following your procedure, you can typically return to light sedentary work. You will be given a custom compression garment that will reduce the swelling and tighten the skin. This garment should be worn for about 22 hours a day.

Three days after your surgery, you can return to more strenuous activities, but you will want to hold off on exercise for a little bit longer.

After 2 weeks, you can cut back to wearing the garment for only 12 hours a day. And after 6 weeks, you can stop wearing the garment and go back to the gym.

Liposuction During COVID-19

You may be wondering if we are still performing liposuction procedures in Toronto during COVID-19. Absolutely! In fact, the plastic surgery industry is actually very busy these days.

We are still open for business and we have taken a number of steps to ensure that everything is safe, sterile, and controlled.

For example, we are limiting the number of people in the clinic by conducting most of our pre-op and post-op meetings via video calls. We definitely miss the face-to-face interactions, but these calls still give us a great chance to go over your needs and answer all of your questions.

Are You Ready to See What’s Possible?

If you’ve read this far, you’re most likely ready to have more detailed conversations about liposuction and body contouring.  You may even be ready to meet our surgeons over a video call.

Dr. Stephen Mulholland is widely regarded as one of Canada’s most respected plastic surgeons and he has literally changed how liposuction is performed throughout the industry. He performs expert liposuction nearly every single day. He is also often interviewed as a thought-leader in plastic surgery by CityLine, Breakfast Television, CBC, CTV, Global Television, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and many others.

Our team also features Canada’s foremost authority on BodyTite liposuction, Dr. Peter Bray. The combination of his hands-on approach and innovative techniques consistently gives our clients stunning results that last.

We are ready to talk to you about your weight loss goals! What are you waiting for?

Posted by:

Dr. Thomas Bell, MD

Dr. Thomas Bell has been one of Canada’s most renowned cosmetic surgeons for 35 years. He prides his excellence on the harmonious balance of vision, aesthetic appearance, and patient care.

More on Dr. Bell

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