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What Happens to Liposuction Fat?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 21, 2024
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After a standard liposuction fat removal procedure, the lipo fat is normally sealed in a specialized biohazard container designated for medical waste. It is then burned in an incinerator designed for this purpose. While some surgeons may dispose of body fat this way on the same clinic or hospital premises, many of them outsource this job to a local medical waste disposal company. Post-liposuction waste presents a contamination risk just as other types of human biological matter removed during surgery, and it needs to be disposed with the proper procedures for handling this kind of biohazardous waste.

Liposuction removes a layer of fat deposits from underneath the skin by vacuum aspiration. It is usually done under general or local anesthesia with a medical instrument called a cannula, and the targeted fat waste usually needs to be broken up through the surgeon's back-and-forth manipulation of the cannula. It can then travel through a tube attached to the cannula to a collection container. Individuals who choose to have liposuction generally do so as an additional resort after caloric reduction and exercise have not removed enough fat tissue from certain areas of the body.

Some plastic surgeons also use liposuction fat on a limited basis for other types of cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, face wrinkle filling, or lip injections; these are also known as fat transfer procedures. Good candidates for fat transfer injections are those with areas of the face or body that could be improved by being significantly filled out in volume. Due to the natural composition of human fat cells, some doctors prefer to use liposuction fat over synthetic injection fillers.

Medical researchers routinely experiment with possible uses for liposuction fat in stem cell development. Adult human fat cells contain the same basic biological material as embryonic stem cells, and this matter can sometimes be extracted with certain microscopic tools. It can then be potentially be converted to healthy stem cells that can possibly be used to repair tissue damage from injuries or other physical defects.

Liposuction fat waste also has some potential as material for biodiesel fuel. Some scientists have succeeded in liquefying post-liposuction waste so that it can be used to fuel specialized biodiesel engines, although the average volume of fuel can be somewhat smaller than the original volume of the body fat waste. This use of removed lipo fat is generally experimental and can sometimes be subject to legal restriction in certain areas.

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Discussion Comments
By anon337372 — On Jun 04, 2013

I was made aware that a clinic was dumping the liposuction material into to the toilet and not into a Bio bag. What should be done about this clinic for performing this practice, if anything?

By tlcJPC — On Jul 13, 2011

I hear that liposuction can actually be quite dangerous and that the bigger you are the more your risks go up. I’m here to say that I would love liposuction, but pain is not my game, dudes and dudettes.

Most people don’t realize that this a very real and painful procedure, just like any other time somebody goes poking around inside of your body.

People should make sure that they are very aware of the risks and the side effects immediately following the procedure before going into it.

Think about it. These doctors are removing a part of your body, whether it’s a sightly or unsightly part. It’s going to really hurt!

By JessiC — On Jul 12, 2011

I don’t think I’ve ever actually thought about what happened to liposuction fat after the surgery, and I can’t believe that I’m reading about it after just having eaten brunch either.

I’m curious, now, though. I’ve never really considered what happened to all of the appendixes and gall stones and random parts that are removed during various medical procedures.

Are they all disposed of by incineration, and if so where in the world does this kind of stuff happen?

I mean, I’ve never heard of the hospital incineration facility in my area. Have you? But, of course, all of these items must go somewhere and I sure hope that they aren’t getting dumped into the ocean or something. Yuk!

I really like my beach minus extra body parts, thanks.

By JessicaLynn — On Jul 12, 2011

@Monika- I do remember that scene! Ick!

Every time I hear "liposuction" I always think of this one scene from "Sex and the City." Samantha runs into an old friend who looks great! When Samantha asks her what she's being doing, she explains that she got the fat liposuctioed from her behind and injected into her face. So of course the only thing for Samantha to do is get the procedure done also!

By Monika — On Jul 11, 2011

Does anyone remember the scene in the movie "Fight Club" where they steal the fat from the liposuction clinic and use it to make soap? I always thought that was super gross but kind of inventive.

By cafe41 — On Jul 10, 2011

@Suntan12 - I know that you mean. Some people want the easy way out and are not willing to do the hard work of diet and exercise, but there are a lot of advances in liposuction surgery that is making it a less invasive procedure.

They have a method of injecting the affected area and sucking out the fat that way. It also offers a better recovery as well. I think that as procedures become more simplified more people are going to take advantage of it.

For example, you don’t need to get a full blown facelift. You can just get laser lipo which gives you instant results without the surgery. I think that you really have to be comfortable with yourself and if a little liposuction makes a difference in your life then I am all for it, but I have to say that it is sad when people get too many plastic surgery procedures because it really changes what they look and they don’t look natural.

I think that plastic surgery in moderation is okay, but if you overdo it, there is really no way to fix it.

By sunshine31 — On Jul 09, 2011

@Suntan12 - I heard that too. I think that a responsible doctor would have told that lady to lose weight first. Liposuction is really supposed to be to tightening up some areas not for losing weight.

People that use liposuction to lose weight usually gain back the weight and need to get another liposuction procedure, and the liposuction costs are not cheap. I know that the average liposuction costs for a tummy tuck is around $4,000.

So I would make sure that I have done everything possible before I go this route. There is also a recovery period of about four weeks which is another thing to consider. My mother in law had this procedure and she said that the recovery was painful.

By suntan12 — On Jul 09, 2011

I wonder how many people have stomach liposuction to reduce the size of their stomach because they are overweight. I was watching this talk show the other day about a lady that wanted to have a tummy tuck because she felt fat.

She had gained about eighty pounds, and said that the plastic surgeon told her that it was a safe procedure to do. I always thought that before you can do liposuction you really had to be within a few pounds of your target weight.

I know a lot of doctors will have you lose weight if you are this overweight because it raises the risk of the surgery. I read somewhere that when a person has a big stomach they have a lot of layers of fat that make the stomach liposuction harder to do because the doctor is going to have a harder time with the surgery because of the excess fat.

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