Weights, Measures, Volumes, cc’s and More

Weights, Measures, Volumes, cc's and More

  1. How many ccs are in a liter?
  2. What is the relationship between cc and pounds?
  3. How much fat did you take out? or What the heck is a cc?


1. How many ccs are in a liter?

There are 1,000 ccs in a liter.

2. What is the relationship between cc and pounds?

Even though cc (cubic centimeter or cubic centiliter) is a measure of volume and the pound is a measure of weight, there is a way to calculate the relationship pretty closely.

1,000 cc = 1 liter

1 liter (of water) weighs 1 kilogram

1 kg = 2.2 pounds

- or -

1 pound = 454.5 cc (approx.)

3. How much fat did you take out? or What the heck is a cc?

Everyone wants to know how much fat was taken out during their liposuction. Although understandable, it's not always quite as important as people think. As virtually everyone reading this site already knows, liposuction is a contouring procedure, not a weight-loss procedure. And unlike breast implants, where you can eventually see pretty much what you have, the number of cc's removed is not always as evident.

Before discussing this, let's go over a few definitions. A "cc" is a metric measurement of volume that is used commonly in medicine and science. 1,000 cc's, which is also called a "liter," is about a quart. A liter of liquid weighs about 2.2 pounds (obviously, a liter of air weighs much less, and a liter of iron would weigh much more - remember, it's a volume, not a weight) and one pound is about 450 cc's.

When someone tells you how many cc's were removed, you really have to know specifically what they're talking about. Part of the confusion is because there are many different ways of counting it. In liposuction, a certain amount of fluid (i.e., superwet or tumescent) is injected before doing the surgery. You need to know how much fluid was injected because if, for example, two doctors say a total of 3,000 ccs was removed, but one injected 1000 cc's beforehand and the other injected 2,500, it makes a big difference. One surgeon advertised that he typically removed 10 quarts from his patients but failed to note that he also injected 8 or 9 quarts of fluid, meaning that the real amount of fat he removed was more like 1 or 2 quarts.

So if you're quoted a number, is that the total amount of material removed, or does it take into consideration how much was injected and how much settled out? In fact, the most accurate method is if the surgeon lets the total amount of fat and fluid removed sit for a while (at least 20 minutes or so) and then counts only the supranatant fat; i.e., the fat that is floating, as opposed to the total amount removed. Fat is very light (lighter than skin, muscle, bone, etc.) and so it floats on top. (That's also why you don't lose as much WEIGHT with lipo as many people wish - sorry!) Even that, strictly speaking, is not completely accurate since the "fat" in that layer still contains some of the fluid injected, some blood, and other body exudates (fluids). And, of course, there is a limit to the amount of fat that can be removed safely in a single procedure.

At the end of each case, I use the following sample notation in my records:

3,650 (2,700/950); 2,500 - where 3,650 is the total amount removed, 2,700 is the supranatant, 950 is the infranatant (i.e., the stuff at the bottom) and 2,500 is the amount of fluid injected. When the patient asks me how much fat was removed, the answer in this case is 2,700 cc's. This method is less useful with ultrasonic liposuction which, because it emulsifies the fat, produces less clear separation of the supranatant and the infranatant.

Finally, the absolute amount of fat removed is not nearly as important as the relative amount. 500 cc's removed from someone who is petite is likely to produce a much more dramatic change and result than 3,000 cc's removed from someone who is significantly larger. Some of my best results (depending, of course, on how you want to define that) have been achieved by removing well under 1,000 cc's. The issue is really how much fat was removed relative to the individual body in question. Either way, it's often not what was taken out that matters the most, it's what's left behind.

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