Which Type of Liposuction Procedure Should I Choose?
Liposuction has been a popular body contouring procedure for some time now and consistently ranks among the most common aesthetic procedures performed in the US. It gives us the ability to remove unwanted fat and quickly create a better contour with low risk of complications. Traditional liposuction involves very small incisions through which fluid is injected to provide anesthesia and prevent bleeding followed by use of a cannula (hollow metal tube) to suction out fat from precise locations. This is the tried-and-true form of liposuction, which is quite effective and simple to understand.
So the question remains, why has liposuction become so confusing with so many options on the market and which one is best? I know this is a question on the mind of the public because there is not a day that goes by I am not asked this question by a patient. The short answer is none of the “latest and greatest” forms of liposuction have been shown in studies to be superior to traditional liposuction. In fact, some carry risks and complications that are not seen with traditional liposuction. All the confusion is created by the media’s desire to create hype for the newest trends and the public’s excitement for anything involving advanced technology. Let’s take a closer look at the newest forms of liposuction:
Laser-assisted Liposuction: This is the newest form of liposuction and includes SmartLipo, SlimLipo, LipoLite, etc. This treatment involves the same exact steps as traditional liposuction, however, prior to suctioning out fat a specialized cannula is inserted that releases laser energy that helps break up the fat prior to suctioning. Although this can make fat removal less labor intensive for the surgeon, the laser energy generates heat which introduces the risk of skin burns and more complications. The hope was the heat energy produced would create more skin tightening but this is minimal and temporary at best, and no study has shown it to be better than traditional liposuction. The procedure takes longer and most require longer incisions for the specialized cannulas. Taking this into account along with the risk of skin burns and lack of any clear advantage, I see no strong reason to offer this technique over traditional liposuction at this time.
Ultrasound-assisted Liposuction: This technique was developed well before laser liposuction and includes treatments such as VASER liposuction. As you can imagine, it involves the same steps as described above but you can substitute the laser energy delivered for ultrasound energy. Again it makes fat removal less labor intensive but shares the same risk/benefit profile as described above for laser liposuction. It also has not been shown to be better or provide more skin shrinkage as compared to traditional liposuction.
Ultimately far more important than the exact technique is the skill level of the surgeon performing the procedure. Do they have the right vision in mind of how to produce a beautiful aesthetic shape, and then, can they precisely remove fat from the right locations to carry out that plan effectively. Any of these techniques can produce excellent results in the right hands. To find a qualified plastic surgeon for body contouring, start by looking for a surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Dino R. Elyassnia, M.D. offers liposuction procedures at his cosmetic surgery practice in San Francisco, CA. Patients can expect a thorough consultation to determine which technique is best suited for them. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Elyassnia provides patients in the greater Bay Area with excellent service and superior liposuction results.