What is the Best Method of Liposuction?

Liposuction AtlantaStandard Lipo, Laser Assisted Lipo, Ultrasonic Lipo, Power Assisted Lipo, Tumenscent Lipo, Smart Lipo, Safe Lipo, Tickle Lipo…there are many different types of liposuction procedures currently offered in the market place, so logically patients are always asking “which is best for me?”. Although some practitioners may have strong feelings one way or another, the short answer to the question is that all of these techniques work, and the results are similar for all.

Liposuction became popular in the 1980s. The initial method of liposuction used hollow tubes (cannulas) to suction out fatty tissues from under the skin using very small incisions. Although initial techniques worked well, the results got even better when surgeons began using smaller, finer cannulas. A major advance occurred when the technique began to incorporate the injection of a dilute solution prior to suctioning. This technique was very helpful in reducing blood loss and bruising, and is commonly used in most types of liposuction today. During the 1990s, new technologies began to emerge to make the procedure even easier by using the application of energy to break up fatty tissues. Ultrasonic assisted liposuction (UAL) uses sound waves, power assisted liposuction (PAL) uses mechanical vibrations, and laser assisted liposuction (LAL) uses laser energy to this end. Some even newer technologies use water pressure to the same effect.

Although companies advertise significant advantages of their technologies over the competition, the scientific literature does not support major differences. Two particular studies about liposuction deserve special attention. The first study looked at over 26,000 consecutive patients undergoing liposuction by many of these different technologies.1 The authors found that overall the results were similar between these different groups. A second study published in 2011 examined trends in liposuction techniques among 492 plastic surgeons.2 In this study, the authors found that all these technologies are currently used by plastic surgeons, but that only a minority (about 10%) used laser liposuction (which include “Smart Lipo” and “Slim Lipo”), and that standard liposuction was still the most common technique used. While energy-based liposuction techniques can help your surgeon with hard to treat areas like the flanks, chest, and back, they also have an increased potential for complications such as burns. With experience and familiarity, however, all of these techniques can be safe and effective.

Non-Surgical Liposuction?

There is even a non-surgical procedure that may be an option for you. Cool Sculpting, which freezes the fat, is an office procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia.

So if all these technologies work, how should a patient choose? First of all, don’t be fooled by fancy ads promising huge results using the latest technology. Second, do your homework to select a qualified plastic surgeon with significant experience in all types of body contouring surgery, including both liposuction and excisional surgery such as tummy tucks. Here at the Emory Aesthetic Center, our surgeons have extensive experience and can explain the differences between all these techniques. We offer a full spectrum of options, and we will customize a plan that best fits your needs.

1Triana L, Triana C, Barbato C, Zambrano M. Liposuction: 25 years of experience in 26,259 patients using different devices. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2009: 29: 509.
2Ahmad J, Eaves FF, Rohrich RJ, and Kenkel JM. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) Survey: Current Trends in Liposuction. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2011: 31; 214.

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