Laser liposuction is one of the newest procedures for fat removal. It combines a laser with a probe that is similar to a liposuction cannula (without the suction part). While it is catching on in the United States, it is not offered by as many surgical practices as traditional liposuction and may take some searching to find a physician that is skilled in this technique. Laser liposuction offers some potential advantages over regular liposuction procedures and should be considered by anyone who is entertaining the possibility of weight loss surgery.
Laser liposuction is really a misnomer since there is no suction involved in the process. In regular liposuction, a wand is placed under the skin which vibrates at very high frequency to liquefy the fat. That liquefied fat is then suck out with a small vacuum hose and discarded. In laser liposuction, instead of using vibration energy to liquefy the fat, light energy is used to instantly zap the fat cells. A laser, which is an intense, focused collection of light energy, is used to instantly vaporize the cells at which it is aimed. The small blood vessels that are broken and leak blood during regular liposuction are instantly cauterized by the laser during laser liposuction. This means that there is less bleeding and bruising with laser liposuction versus regular liposuction. Proponents of the technology also claim that the laser light works to tighten the surrounding skin suggesting that laser liposuction does not result in baggy, excess skin sometimes present after traditional liposuction.
Another interesting feature of laser liposuction is that it can be performed under local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. This means that the area to be treated is completely numbed by injecting the area with an anesthetic while the patient is awake during the procedure. Patients can sit upright or stand during the laser liposuction procedure. In certain cases this is highly advantageous. For example, if belly fat is being removed, having the patient stand during the procedure will allow the surgeon to see how gravity layers the fat in the abdominal region. When the patient is standing, the surgeon can target all of the fat areas appropriately.
Laser liposuction may not be for everyone. While it is quite safe, it may not be appropriate for patients with diabetes, liver or kidney problems or blood clotting problems. It is best reserved for areas that do not contain much fat such as the inner thighs, face and neck, chin and other smaller regions. While laser liposuction can be performed on belly fat, it may not remove as much fat as the patient would like. In these cases, traditional liposuction may be more appropriate.
The procedure is relatively brief, lasting 30 to 60 minutes. The recovery is quite quick, also, even compared to regular liposuction. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis meaning the patient can arrive at and leave the office on the same day. Most people return to work after 24 hours. Do not expect to see results instantly, however, since the full benefit of liposuction may take six to eight weeks to be seen completely.
Laser liposuction is one of the newer fat removal techniques and may offer certain advantages to traditional liposuction for some patients. For larger collections of fat, traditional liposuction may still be the best approach. Talk to your plastic surgeon to find out more about both techniques.
Laser Liposuction: Some Advantages over Traditional Liposuction
Everyone wants a perfectly toned body, but sometimes diet and exercise are not enough, especially as we get older. Since its addition to cosmetic surgery, liposuction has been the principal procedure for putting the final touches on a well-trained thigh, for shaping the buttocks or for removing a small belly roll or some residual “love handles.” When targeted to small areas, traditional liposuction is very effective. The problem is that liposuction liquefies fat using an ultra-high speed oscillating probe and removes the fat through suction—but it does nothing for the skin itself. The skin has stretched and grown to cover the body’s fat and when the fat is removed, excess skin remains.
Laser liposuction is different. Laser liposuction does not liquefy fat but rather uses concentrated light energy to vaporize the fat instantly. This laser light also cauterizes any blood vessels in its path so bleeding and bruising are kept to a minimum. Best of all, the laser liposuction technique tightens the skin. Patients that have had laser liposuction report that not only is the fat gone, but the remaining skin does not sag nearly as much as they had expected.
Scientists and doctors that have studied laser liposuction theorize that the heat associated with laser liposuction stimulates certain parts of the skin to form new collagen and elastin fibers†. The formation of these proteins is a normal part of wound inflammation and healing when skin is exposed to heat. In other words, laser liposuction damages the deep layers of the skin, and, as the body heals, it creates a new skin structure that is much tighter than before the procedure. So when you opt for laser liposuction over traditional liposuction, you can expect a much more rapid and more natural tightening of the skin at the site.
It should be noted that this beneficial skin-tightening effect is not as pronounced when larger areas are targeted by laser liposuction. As with traditional liposuction, the results of laser liposuction are better on smaller areas with less fat. With more aggressive procedures (large areas with considerable fat deposits) laser liposuction does not achieve the same degree of fat loss as traditional approaches. Also, since there is more skin that needs to retract in these cases, the skin response is slower and not as impressive.
Another major advantage of laser liposuction over traditional techniques is that a very small probe can be used. Since the fat is vaporized rather than liquefied, there is no need for the large suction tube when performing laser liposuction. Therefore small areas, such as around the face and neck, can be targeted by laser liposuction while leaving only a small incision scar, if any.
Because laser liposuction requires that the surgeon be familiar with both the surgical aspects of liposuction as well as the use of lasers, laser liposuction tends to be more expensive than traditional approaches. In cases where small and/or delicate areas are targeted and rapid skin tightening is desired, laser liposuction offers some distinct advantages. Talk to a cosmetic surgeon that routinely performs both types of liposuction to help you determine what is best in your particular case.