Trying to choose the right kind of liposuction for you is a confusing kind of like buying a house without having a realtor. Every doctor thinks their way is the best . They can’t all be right! To make the right choice you need some basic information so you can ask the right questions.The original liposuction procedure (invented by a gynecologist) called traditional liposuction requires general anesthesia. After you are asleep, a large tube is inserted into your fat and the fat is sucked out. The recovery was long, painful and involved lots of bruising. Not a great choice.
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About 30 years ago a dermatologist figured out how to do it without general anesthesia. He injected saline and local anesthetic and anti bruising medication[ epinephrine ] into your fat and then sucked it out with smaller tubes [cannulae]. This is called tumescent liposuction. No general anesthesia is used, there is less bruising, less pain, and a shorter recovery. This has been single most important improvement to liposuction. It made the surgery safer, gentler and with less down time.
About 15 years ago doctors started using an ultrasound probe to inject energy and heat into the fat after the tumescent anesthesia. The idea was to melt the fat before sucking it out so smaller tubes could be used. It worked pretty well and there was improved skin tightening. This technique, called Vaser Liposuction is still used today. It’s biggest problem (that nobody wants to admit) is that the fat got so hot it was causing bothinternal and external burns. There have been improvements, but burns are still a risk.
About 8 years ago doctors tried using a laser to heat the fat tissue. The idea was that the laser help melt the fat and make easier to remove. The most popular version of this technique is called SmartLipo. The problem was that smart lipo laser is not as specific or smart as we hoped. It heats up everything, fat, skin, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, etc. It is very popular today, but mostly because of excellent marketing. Not a bad choice, probably safer than Vaser, probably not as effective as Vaser and probably not quite as safe as tumescent liposuction.
In the liposuction industry, lasers that are used for liposuction all have different wavelengths and all have different names : Cool lipo , Pro Lipo, Slim Lipo , and so on. There have not been any randomized trials comparing these lasers or for that matter trials comparing them to tumescent liposuction. They probably help with fat removal and they may add a bit of risk of injury from the laser. None of the lasers have been shown to be any better than the other. Now for some inside information. The laser its wavelength and it name are not really that important. The most important part is the experience and skill of the surgeon.
There is one more option that you need to know about. It’s called PAL or Power Assisted Liposuction. It’s not a laser at all. It is a device that jiggles the suction tube back and forth a very tiny amount at extremely high speeds. This device helps make the suction process as smooth as possible. The high speed vibration can remove the tiny irregularities that are missed by the laser. This reduces the chances of having any lumps when you are finished.
Now that you know what the terms mean, here is what you need to ask your doctor.
1) What kind of anesthesia will I get?
2) Do you use a laser ? Why ? Does it add any risk?
3) Do you use Power Assisted Lipo or anything similar to smooth out any lumps?
4) How many days will I have activity restrictions (recovery period)?
Knowing the answers to the above questions should give you the best chance of having a safe and effective procedure.