Since its inception in the early 1970’s, liposuction procedures have become one of the most requested of cosmetic surgery procedures available. Due to procedural advances made in recent years, there are two new techniques gaining popularity with cosmetic surgeons and thus, their patients. These new techniques may offer patients more effective results with minimal bruising and less recovery time. In the cases of smaller treatment areas, general anesthetic may not be necessary and instead a local or spinal anesthetic may be used, reducing risks and recovery time even further.
Modern ‘wet’ liposuction works by injecting a liquid solution into the areas of fat to be removed. The fat then breaks down and becomes liquefied and easier to remove via a thin suction tube, or cannula. The surgeon introduces the cannula under the skin and into the unwanted fat through a small incision or series of incisions and then suctions the fat out using a swift, back-and-forth motion. This motion helps remove the fat, but can also damage surrounding tissue and blood vessels, and can also cause significant bruising post-surgery.
Power-assisted liposuction (also known as PAL) improves on traditional liposuction techniques by using an advanced type of cannula that vibrates at a very high speed. The rapid vibration works to break the fat cells loose and allows the surgeon to remove the fat more gently and in less time than traditional methods. This technique also allows the fat cells to be removed while leaving surrounding skin, tissue, and blood vessels intact. A reduced procedure time and less anesthetic results in faster recovery and less bruising. This method is very effective for smaller areas of treatment where more precise sculpting is desired.
Laser lipolysis, or Smart Lipo, involves delivering laser energy to fat cells through a small fiber contained in the tip of the cannula. The laser causes the fat cells to rupture and then liquefy, which allows the cannula to remove them gently and efficiently. This laser energy produces the added benefit of sealing the blood vessels and stimulating the surrounding skin, which results in faster recovery and healing over traditional techniques. This procedure also allows most patients with smaller, more defined areas of treatment to receive local anesthetic during surgery.
Both of these techniques are still relatively new to the market and are not yet available in all areas. Although there will always be a possibility of complications and a certain level of risk associated with any type of surgery, the risks associated with more advanced liposuction techniques are being reduced. By using methods that require less anesthetic, a shorter recovery time, and by using methods that promote faster healing, cosmetic surgeons can help give their patients the best possible result with a lower level of risk.