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Cosmetic Surgery

Liposuction Assisted with Laser

What are laser- and ultrasound-assisted liposuction?

Laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction, like traditional liposuction, are not a weight control method or a fix for obesity. They are used to help contour your body in those areas that are not responsive to diet and exercise such as saddlebags or a paunchy stomach. Also like traditional liposuction, laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction is most often used to reduce fullness in your:

  • Abdomen
  • Ankles
  • Arms
  • Buttocks
  • Cheeks
  • Chin
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Neck
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Waist

 

Assisted liposuction candidates

Laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction may offer some advantages, such as sedation rather than general anesthesia, less trauma to the site and smoother skin in the end. Nevertheless, you should be aware that these techniques are still considered to be relatively new and there are few studies to prove the end results are better than traditional liposuction. It's important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your plastic surgeon.

Caution: In the wrong or inexperienced hands, laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction can be dangerous. In addition to seeking a doctor who is trained and board-certified in plastic surgery, make sure the physician has specific experience with this types of procedure. As you do your homework, you should be suspicious if the liposuction pricing is far lower than what's quoted by qualified plastic surgeons. This could be an indicator that the provider is not properly qualified to perform the procedure.

Assisted liposuction risks and recovery

The most common potential complications of laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction include:

  • Bruising
  • Infection
  • Minimal bleeding
  • Numbness
  • Skin burns
  • Swelling

Managing your discomfort: You'll probably be sore and a little swollen for a few days following laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction. Your doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable.

Your doctor may advise you to wear a special compression garment to speed healing. Everyone's recovery is slightly different, but most people are able to return to work within a few days.

In the long term

As you recover you'll notice that your skin may begin to tighten as the new layers of skin form. This firming may continue for up to six months after your procedure.

These techniques remove fat cells that are not recreated. If you should gain weight, it's likely that fatty deposits will not expand in the areas where the procedure was performed.

Assisted liposuction results

Before photos are on the left, and after photos are on the right.

How assisted liposuction works

Traditional liposuction —one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery in the U.S.—typically starts with the administration of some form of anesthesia including local anesthesia, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia accompanied with the infusion of a saline solution into the area of the body where liposuction will be performed. The solution contains medication to minimize pain and bleeding. Then, a small hollow tube attached to a vacuum is inserted through a small incision into the fat layer beneath the skin. It's moved around to break up the fat, which is then sucked out of the body.

Laser-assisted liposuction takes advantage of the power and technology associated with medical laser beams to liquefy the fat which is then sucked out of the area.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction uses a special cannula that vibrates very rapidly and gives off ultrasound energy. As the cannula passes through the fat cells, that energy liquefies the fat cells, which are then suctioned out. The ultrasound can be administered either above the skin (with a special emitter) or below the surface of the skin (with an ultrasound cannula).

Medical devices are used for a variety of medical procedures, but only certain devices are FDA approved or cleared for liposuction. Before considering laser or ultrasound-assisted liposuction, it is important to determine that the device being used is cleared by the FDA.

Types of assisted liposuction

Laser-assisted liposuction

Laser liposuction focuses low-energy waves delivered by a thin laser fiber that's inserted through small incisions. The laser energy is focused on the part of the body where you'd like to have a fatty pocket removed. After the fat is melted, a small cannula is used to suck out the liquefied fat.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction

The fat is dissolved by the ultrasonic waves that are emitted from the end of a cannula that's inserted through small incisions. Ultrasonic waves delivered through the cannula emulsify or liquefy the fat. After the fat is liquefied, it is then sucked out through a small cannula.

 

© 2017 American Society of Plastic Surgeons