Liposuction Methods, Pros and Cons of Liposuction Techniques

Brook Flagg

by Brook Flagg | October 4, 2011 @ 10:00AM

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Most liposuction candidates are aware that "lipoplasty" relies on a special suction device (cannula) to remove unwanted, excess fat in localized body areas. But there are numerous liposuction techniques out there, leaving many patients confused regarding the best option for them. With that in mind, the details of commonly known liposuction techniques are discussed here:

  • Dry liposuction (Traditional): Dry liposuction was the first liposuction technique to be performed. It involved administering only general anesthesia prior to suctioning, and resulted in innumerable complications that led to it eventually being phased altogether. Pros: None. Cons: Dry liposuction isn’t safe, and any surgeon who performs it is most likely not qualified to assist you.
  • Tumescent liposuction: Since its inception around 25 years ago, the tumescent method has gradually become the standard bearer upon which all other liposuction techniques rest. Most modern liposuction techniques, including those listed below, involve some sort of tumescent injection that contains a local anesthetic, epinephrine, and a saline solution to reduce the risks of liposuction (such as bleeding and post-operative pain). Pros: It is the worldwide standard of care for liposuction. Cons: Aside from standard liposuction risks, the tumescent technique is regarded as safe.
  •  “Wet” liposuction: The wet technique requires the injection of approximately 100 milliliters of local anesthesia containing epinephrine, and is a variation of the tumescent technique. The injection is administered in a volume that is lower than the amount of targeted fat. Pros: The epinephrine narrows the blood vessels, thereby reducing the risk of bruising and bleeding of the patient. Cons: General anesthesia is normally required as well.
  • “Super Wet” liposuction: Super wet liposuction is the injection of a volume of diluted local anesthesia that is less than half the volume used for the traditional tumescent technique. Pros: It is often recommended for those in need of large volume liposuction. Cons: Possible risks include “drowning” in bodily and supplementary fluids that haven’t been removed thoroughly from the body. A surgeon should take care to eliminate excess fluid as quickly as possible.
  • Ultrasonic (UAL): Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction (UAL) requires the use of a large volume of tumescent fluid, and uses either a metal probe or metal paddle to deliver ultrasonic energy and heat into subcutaneous fat. Pros: UAL technology helps emulsify the fat (break it up) to increase the chances of an easier, smoother liposuction process. Cons: The procedure is likely to take longer than traditional liposuction.
  • VASER Lipo®: Sometimes marketed as LipoSelection® or called “VASER Ultrasonic,” this method is another alternate technology to traditional liposuction. As is the case with UAL, it involves removing fat deposits from beneath the skin with the incorporation of ultrasonic heat before suctioning takes place. Pros: Similar to UAL, this technique breaks up the fat in order to achieve a smoother, easier removal. Cons: Like UAL, VASER Lipo may take longer than traditional lipoplasty.
  • Power Assisted liposuction (PAL): PAL is powered by a device that creates a rapid in-and-out movement or a spinning rotation of the attached cannula as it suctions fat. Pros: This technique reduces the amount of manual effort required of the surgeon, which may improve results in some patients. Smaller incisions, a more targeted removal, and a lowered risk of bleeding are also benefits. Cons: A higher rate of more serious complications (such as excessive bleeding) when compared to other tumescent techniques, and if the surgeon is not experienced in the use of a vibrating cannula, irregularities may be noticeable (a “lumpy” body fat appearance).
  • Water Jet Assisted Liposuction: Water jet assisted liposuction uses a slightly pressurized stream of saline to dislodge fat and simultaneously remove the offending fat cells. Rather than destroying the cells, this type of liposuction loosens them for a gentler removal process. Pros: Better fluid management, to reduce the fluid accumulation risks associated with wet and super wet techniques. Cons: Some patients may experience light bruising and irritation at the incision site.
  • Laser liposuction: Laser liposuction uses a microcannula, which is inserted through a small incision to deliver laser energy and heat into the subcutaneous fat in order to “zap” the cells away. Some doctors believe there is a skin tightening benefit that occurs from laser liposuction, because the skin often forms new collagen as a result of the laser treatment. Pros: For patients with mild skin looseness, new and tighter skin may form on the treated area. Cons: It is often priced higher than other liposuction procedures, as it is better for small areas of fat removal.

Variations of Laser Liposuction

There are numerous laser liposuction devices that are manufactured, marketed and utilized today. They include:

  • SmartLipo™: Smart Lipo was the first laser liposuction device on the market. It offers all the benefits of those listed above.
  • CoolLipo™: CoolLipo is a laser liposuction device that offers a cool touch laser. It is ideal for smaller areas of treatment in the face, chin, and neck areas.
  • ProLipo PLUS™: This laser liposuction system is designed for use on areas that require specific, precise contouring, those that are commonly resistant to traditional liposuction.
  • LipoLite™: This uses a 1064 nm wavelength, and is also best used on smaller areas of the body. Some surgeons recommend using this laser liposuction system as a complement to the traditional tumescent method.
  • LipoTherme™/LipoControl™: This laser liposuction system is a combination of two technologies, which some doctors favor. It is designed to remove excess fat from small, precise areas of the face and body.

Liposuction Methods and their Results

Every liposuction patient wants a safe, beautifully enhanced outcome – a more slender, better-contoured shape. To learn which type of liposuction will best bring about the results you are seeking, you may wish to consult a qualified cosmetic surgeon. Every surgeon has specific preferences regarding liposuction technology and the pros and cons of liposuction techniques. He or she can help you understand the methods you are interested in, and explain why a specific technique may be preferable.

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