Liposuction vs. Bariatric Surgery. What's the difference?

For many of us, liposuction may be an option to change the appearance of ourselves. Typically, liposuction or bariatric surgery is performed to decrease added fat padding usually found in the abdominal area. Often, all other measures have been exhausted, such as diet, nutritional planning and exercise. Sometimes, this alone is not enough. Genetics can play a part in how we carry our body weight and our propensity to accumulate fat around our middles.


Liposuction is a procedure which usually appeals to women to rid themselves of unsightly bulges around the middle area. This procedure is not a cure-all for cellulitis or sagging skin. This process involves the injection of large amounts of fluid into the layer between the muscle and fat layers. Friction with this device also enables increased breaking up of fat cells. The fat cells are then suctioned out of the body and removed. This type of surgery usually takes about two to four hours to complete, depending on the size and location of the body area being treated.

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is usually the procedure of choice for those individuals who are heavily overweight and all other treatment options have failed. Dieting and exercise are always the first attempt at losing body weight naturally. Serious thought should be taken when investigating this type of procedure. As with liposuction, there are many variations of bariatric surgery as well. You and your physician must decide which is best for you.

Liposuction Procedure Abroad

Which Procedure is the right one for me?

Liposuction is not the treatment of choice for those that are very overweight but for those that are in generally good health and condition.  Physicians will typically use this procedure for those that are within 30% of their ideal body weight and the individuals have no other co morbid complications. Bariatric surgery should only be considered for those that are severely obese, mostly due to genetic and medical conditions.

With the liposuction procedure two to four hours is all it takes with minimal rest for a few days following the procedure to recover. As with any surgery, there is a risk of fat cells breaking away and into the bloodstream where they can cause damage. Be sure to talk with your doctor about this. For open bariatric surgery or bands, again, any surgery has risks so be sure to ask questions and understand the procedure and what the risks and benefits will be so that you will not be disappointed.

How Much Does it Cost?

The average cost of liposuction surgery in the United States is between $2,000 to $5,000 or even more depending on what clinic you choose and on the size and location(s) of the area(s) to be treated. Thighs may cost $1600 or more per thigh. In South American surgery centers, the cost may decrease by as much as half, and that includes lodging most of the time.

Bariatric surgery again, depends on the technique used, any complicating factors and the location of the surgical center. Typically in the US $20,000 to $25,000 is not unheard of. This same surgery in Mexico or South America may be performed at an almost 60% discount.

Who can Perform These Procedures?

As with any surgery, be sure your surgeon is board certified for liposuction techniques and bariatric band certification. Make sure the surgical facility is accredited by the Joint Commission International to be sure you have the highest standard of care for you or your loved one.

If you want to know more about these procedures and the best centers you can choose from, please contact us!