Liposuction (Suction-Assisted Lipectomy, Liposculpture, Lipoplasty)
Liposuction is an excellent tool in the plastic surgeon’s armamentarium to improve shape by removing areas of stubborn fat deposits that can contribute to unsatisfactory contours at multiple locations of a patient’s body.
Unfortunately, despite proper diet and exercise, contour irregularities can persist. Although liposuction has many pseudonyms and the procedural techniques have several variations, liposuction in general addresses fat accumulation that can result in unwanted contours. Liposuction addresses excess fat through means of suctioning through small incisions.
The original technique was first described in the mid-1970’s, in which a narrow tube (cannula) was used to remove fat by creating channels in the fatty tissue. In 1978, French physicians Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz and Pierre Fournier further honed the original technique, adding a wetting solution prior to suctioning, and thereafter adding a local anesthetic. This wetting solution was ultimately developed further over the years, and epinephrine was added. This “tumescent solution,” even today, is instilled prior to suctioning the sites, minimizing the risk of bleeding and bruising.
While the cannulas have evolved over time, Power Assisted Liposuction has further gained greater popularity, with its ability to reduce the time required for suction-assisted lipectomy procedures by adding a device which allows the cannula to rapidly vibrate, more swiftly breaking up the fat for suctioning.
While additional technologies have refined the technique and ultimate results, laser-assisted lipolysis has particularly grown in popularity given its effectiveness and minimal downtime.
Common sites of liposuction include the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms, and neck.
Smartlipo®, by Cynosure®, is the leading laser body contouring system, having been voted the #1 Body Contouring Brand. It has become the most widely-used and extensively studied laser-assisted liposuction modality.
A minimally invasive procedure, it does differ from both traditional liposuction as well as completely non-invasive procedures. Smartlipo® has been shown to yield less pain, less bruising, less swelling, and a more rapid recovery than traditional liposuction.
Smartlipo® is planned as a single, one-time treatment to eliminate bothersome pockets of fat that do not respond well to diet and exercise. It is especially ideal for treatment of the abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), arms, thighs, buttocks, hips, and neck.
The process of a patient’s Smartlipo® treatment has many similarities, though some vitally important differences, when compared to other contouring modalities. In the Smartlipo® method, we are able to treat the patient while he or she is awake. The tumescent anesthetic fluid is gently injected to the site(s) targeted for contouring. Next, a thin tube containing the Smartlipo® laser fiber is inserted through a very small incision, melting the fat cells. The laser energy additionally provides tissue tightening under the skin by increasing collagen production for smoother skin and an improved shape. Because the tumescent anesthetic has already been placed, only light pressure is felt during the laser portion of the procedure. The liquefied fat is then easily removed with gentle suction.
Unlike some other well-advertised, non-invasive treatments, the fat during the Smartlipo® procedure is actually visibly removed from the patient’s body in a single office-based setting, permanently. Also unlike some other procedures, Smartlipo® is performed directly by the surgeon. In addition, tissue tightening is performed for long-time contour improvement. With a similar safety profile to Botox® Cosmetic, dramatic improvements using Smartlipo® can be achieved safely, with minimal downtime. In fact, nearly all patients return to their daily activities in two days.
Following the procedure, the patient’s recovery will likely include aches at the targeted site(s), similar to following a physical workout. A compression garment will be required following the procedure for a short duration so as to further assist in contouring, allowing the tissues to “accordion,” eliminating the honeycombed spaces left behind by the removed fat.
Though every individual is unique and each patient is assessed for suitability for Smartlipo® and results may vary, contour enhancements are typically noted within a single week, with continued improvements noted between 3-6 months, leading to a more youthful, restored appearance.
It is important to emphasize that liposuction treatment modalities are implemented for shape and not weight-loss goals. A proper healthy diet and exercise regimen should be maintained following treatment, no matter which liposuction technique is utilized, so as to achieve long-term results.
Dr. Pathy is the only double-board certified plastic surgeon in our area able to offer the wide range of treatments that the minimally invasive workstation of Smartlipo® Triplex® can offer, with three unique wavelengths customized for each patient’s needs, including Cellulaze™, which is used for cellulite treatment, and PrecisionTx™, which is a treatment designed specifically for treatment of the “double chin” and contouring of the neck.
No matter which liposuction technique is utilized, each procedure is individualized to the patient, and a combination of techniques is frequently used to achieve the ideal result by Dr. Pathy and Dr. Shah.