Minimally Invasive Liposuction Options
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2015 liposuction replaced breast augmentation as America’s most popular cosmetic procedure! And as the popularity of minimally-invasive liposuction has skyrocketed, so has the array of in-office procedures. SmartLipo™, Tickle Lipo, Laser Lipo, Cool Lipo, Pro Lipo, VASERlipo® – what are the differences and why are there so many choices?
Minimally Invasive Liposuction
The original form of liposuction, which we will refer to as “traditional liposuction”, was done by inserting a cannula (or metal tube) into the area to be treated, suctioning excess fat out of the body under very high levels of negative pressure. This technique, which required the use of general anesthesia and an overnight hospital stay, sometimes caused excessive trauma to the tissues, intense blood loss, nerve damage, tissue death, intense pain and long periods of downtime. Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein, a dermatologic surgeon, invented the tumescent technique for liposuction, forever revolutionizing the procedure.
Unlike “traditional lipo”, tumescent liposuction is performed right in the physician’s office, using only local anesthesia. A large volume of tumescent liquid (a saline solution mixed with anesthetics) is injected into the body area being treated. The area to be treated becomes engorged with fluid (swollen), which creates more room between the skin and the subcutaneous tissue, helping to separate the fat cells, allowing the cannula to move more easily through the fat. Since its inception, tumescent liposuction has established an excellent safety profile.
In addition, we no longer use the large, cumbersome cannulas used in old-fashioned liposuction, which created much more tissue trauma and led to the subsequent post-op difficulties noted above. We now use what are called “micro-cannulae”, which are so much smaller, which is why the procedure is now so much less invasive, and less traumatic, allowing much faster return to normal activities.
Tumescent liposuction and the use of micro-cannulae, have allowed liposuction to become the safe and reliable treatment that it now is, and provided a huge leap forward in the cosmetic surgery industry. Over the last ten years, the industry has exploded with a variety of brand names and energy sources used to help break up the fat when performing tumescent liposuction.
Familiar brand names: SmartLipo™, Pro Lipo and Cool Lipo
This particular technique uses laser thermal energy to rupture fat cells, which are then gently suctioned away and drained from the body, resulting in lost inches and a more slender body contour. Many surgeons, including Dr. Schwartz, like Laser Lipo because it provides the best skin-tightening component available to help contract and smooth your skin post-treatment, particularly if one has loose or saggy skin prior to treatment. It’s important to note that liposuction is not a skin tightening treatment by itself, although Laser Lipo provides the best skin tightening option available. Laser Lipo is best suited for small, isolated pockets of fat, so it is ideal for candidates within ten to twenty-five pounds of their ideal body weight. It is also often used for precision body contouring, such as on body builders in the arms, abdomen and chest area. Dr. Schwartz will often combine the use of Laser Lipo with Hi Def or Tickle Lipo for the most precise body sculpting available.
(also known as Power Assisted Liposuction, or PAL)
Familiar brand names: Tickle Lipo, Lipomatic, Vibrasat
Vibration-Assisted Liposuction uses gentle infrasonic vibration-assisted energy to break down fat while keeping the connective tissue intact. The liquefied fat is then drained from the body by being gently sucked away. As this form of liposuction does not use any type of heat as its energy source, there is no chance of skin burn or injury, as there can be with laser and ultrasound technology. Because this procedure assists in the stimulation of collagen in the treated area for up to six months post-treatment, excessive skin folds with large volumes of fat evacuated often tighten during this period. With PAL, patients that did not previously qualify for outpatient lipo procedures (those within thirty pounds of ideal body weight) now can have larger volumes of fat evacuated.* The tiny cannula also allows for more precise body sculpting in tinier, more difficult areas, such as the knees, male breasts, etc.
Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
Familiar Brand Names: VASERlipo®
UAL uses high-pitched sound waves to liquefy fat in a specific area before it is evacuated. The ultrasonic energy essentially “melts” the fat deposits into a liquid state, which is then emulsified, making its excavation much easier. It is a perfect form of liposuction for hard-to-treat areas such as the chin, neck, cheeks, knees, calves and ankles, as well as for denser pockets or larger volumes of fat. Because a large amount of heat is created during ultrasonic liposuction, there is a much greater risk for burns, blistering or scarring, thus making it absolutely necessary for special precautions, and that your procedure is being performed by a skilled and experienced surgeon.
The Bottom Line of Liposuction
The final results of any liposuction procedure depend on factors such as the elasticity of your skin, how well you heal and the skill and knowledge of the surgeon performing the procedure. No matter what liposuction procedure you are considering, the tool and energy source is not nearly as important as the surgeon holding it.
Cost of Liposuction
The cost of the various types of liposuction are fairly consistent across the board and are more affected by the area size and volume of fat to be removed than by the energy source or brand name.
Patients can, generally, expect to pay between $3,000 – $7,000 for fat reduction in the most popular areas treated. The tiniest of areas/fat volume, such as the chin, knees or arms, will, generally, cost less.
Dr. Craig Schwartz – Experienced Liposuction Surgeon
Always committed to providing the best possible minimally invasive fat reduction and body contouring treatments for his patients, triple-board-certified surgeon Dr. Craig Schwartz originally trained under Dr. Jeffrey Klein, the inventor of Tumescent Liposuction Totally by Local Anesthesia. He has also attended multiple courses and preceptorships around the country with some of the premier instructors in laser and ultrasound-assisted liposuction, including such internationally known cosmetic physicians as Dr. Robert Weiss, Dr. Roger Hogue and Dr. David Broadway. As owner and medical director of Premier Vein & Body, Dr. Schwartz performs all of the lipo procedures himself.
Dr. Schwartz presents each liposuction patient seeking fat reduction with a plan that best fits your body type and goals, using the best-suited energy source, or, possibly, a combination of complimentary procedures. Many doctors will try and sell you whichever type of liposuction machine they happen to offer. Dr. Schwartz provides his patients with a full range of options, including all three major energy sources, as no two bodies are the same.
*Results may vary and are not guaranteed. Consult with Dr. Schwartz to see if you are a good candidate.