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Saddle bags, muffin tops, love handles, banana rolls, meetliposuction. But, what techniqueshould you choose? Liposuction,Tumescent Liposuction, Vaser Lipo System, Lipodissolve™, Smartlipo™, etc... Read along and earn a few credit hoursas you embark on the road to eliminating bulging fat.
Traditional liposuction is a surgical procedure invented in 1974that involves anesthesia, an incision, a few hours to perform and several daysfor recovery. Most importantly,liposuction is best performed by a board certified plastic surgeon and not yourdermatologist or your gynecologist. Liposuction is the actual physical removal of fat allowing for dramaticreduction in both circumference and body contouring. Your surgeon inserts a metal tube, called a cannula, throughan incision in the skin and into the fatty area. As your surgeon suctions, the unwanted fat is led to acontainer attached to a suction pump. Liposuction remains until today the gold standard to shrink specificareas of the body that do not respond to overall reduction in body weight and resultsof traditional liposuction remain better than any other technique whenperformed on the ideal patient.
Also known as mesotherapy, lipolysis orlipostabil, Lipodissolve™ initially began in Italy in the 1980’s and hasrecently become available in the U.S. The procedure involves a series of injections with the promise ofmelting away unwanted small localized areas of fat. The chemical cocktail used in the medicated injectionsvaries from doctor to doctor as well as the area to be treated. The mainingredient used in the cocktail, Phosphatidylcholine, is not approved by theFDA . Phosphatidylcholine is asoybean extract, FDA-approved as an agent that breaks down blood fats but notas a substance for injection to promise fat melting. Lipodissolve being a noninvasive procedure with thelikelihood of achieving no positive results is has no set regulations on who isallowed to perform it; it is an experimental procedure and has not received theendorsement of the AmericanSociety of Plastic Surgeons.
Liposuction was revolutionized in 1985 with the tumescenttechnique. Tumescent liposuctioninvolves injecting a fluid, mostly a mixture of lidocaine, saline andepinephrine, to expand the fat compartment before cannula insertion. This technique makes suction easier andmore effective, but mainly contributing to less bleeding and bruising andeliminating the need for general anesthesia.
Ultrasound &Laser Assisted Liposuction
Vaser Lipo System, Lipodissolve™, Smartlipo™, Ultra-Sculpt,Pro-Lipo, Lipolite, etc…are all new systems that include cannulas that emiteither ultrasound waves or laser wavelengths. The purpose is to further liquefy fat prior to removal. Keeping in mind that best results areachieved when the liquefied fat is suctioned out, the purported benefits to thepatient are that fat is easier to remove with less swelling and bruising. While early ultrasound and laserassisted systems led to some side effects such as skin burns and nerve damage,I found that the third generation devices addressed these side effects. These systems require multipletreatments performed within weeks or sometimes once a week, they can be thoughtof as popular adjuncts to traditional liposuction or post traditionalliposuction. Both ultrasound andlaser assisted liposuction can be combined.
The gap between the dramatic results of liposuction and thesubtle results of the noninvasive, “skin smoothing” ultrasound or laserassisted liposuction gets even wider when the added cost of these new systemsis considered. From a costperspective to the patient, the multiple sessions required with the noninvasiveapproach can add up to the cost of one traditional liposuction.
If you are overweight, you need a lifestyle change and notliposuction regardless of the technique used to perform the liposuction. You may benefit from combo techniquessuch as liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy-tuck) if you have excessivelyloose skin. If you are notoverweight but have those unattractive lumps around your hips, thighs or buttocksthe liposuction is just what the doctor ordered.
So what’s a patient to do?
Do your research, be a well informed patient, set realisticexpectations and most importantly choose your experts wisely and then, be onyour way to perfect curves.