There is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to the similarities and differences between liposculpture and liposuction. Liposuction by its broadest definition is any procedure that uses some technology to disrupt fat cells and draw them out of the body under a vacuum. There are various forms of fat removal that are sometimes referred to as liposuction whether they fit with the above definition or not. For example, laser liposuction is not really liposuction at all—focused laser light energy is used to liquefy or vaporize fat cells without a vacuum at all.
The term liposculpture was coined to differentiate it from liposuction. Liposuction is generally used to remove large quantities of fat from areas that need large scale fat removal. Thighs, buttocks, and abdomen are common sites for liposuction. Liposculpture, on the other hand, refers to liposuction on a smaller scale and in areas that ultimately have or needless fat extracted. Common areas for liposculpture include more delicate areas such as the face, neck, upper abdomen, and lower legs. Liposculpture is usually brought to bear on areas that are not traditionally thought of as targets of liposuction.
Two terms – the same technology
Part of the confusion that arises between the two terms is that both use the same technology. Fat is liquefied and removed with suction in liposuction and liposculpture. Confusion also occurs because there is some overlap between the body areas that are targeted by each procedure. For instance, liposculpture may be employed in the lower abdomen of a patient who has a fairly toned and trim abdomen but would like a greater definition of the abdominal muscle. Moreover, laser liposculpture breaks the rule yet again because it is a form of “liposuction” (according to some practitioners) except that it does not use suction. Given all this, it is easy to understand the confusion.
One of the major differences between the liposculpture and liposuction is that the probe or cannula is smaller in liposculpture. This fine cannula permits the plastic surgeon to perform liposculpture in areas where there is not much space between the muscle or fascia and the skin. Also, the intensity of the fat disruption process is usually lower with liposculpture. The low-intensity liposculpture process is safer for shaping the face and neck.
Another point of confusion regarding liposculpture is that some aesthetic practitioners have used the term liposculpture to describe mesotherapy. Mesotherapy involves injecting a cocktail of a number of drugs into fat tissue thereby disrupting and dissolving them. In mesotherapy, the body absorbs the dissolved fat into the bloodstream—there is no suction involved. Unfortunately, the major brand name for mesotherapy treatment is called Lipodissolve, a term fairly similar in spelling and meaning to liposculpture. Given this interchangeability of terms, it is critical to know exactly what is involved in your liposculpture procedure. Mesotherapy costs around $400 per session, is not FDA-approved and can be performed by people without medical licenses. The liposuction-related procedure which uses a probe placed in the skin rather than a needle, Liposculpture costs between $1,000 and $3,000 per treatment and is performed by licensed physicians.