The development of liposuction in the 1980’s has been a major advance in cosmetic surgery. Since then the technique has been refined and improved. This article outlines the advantages of a laser liposuction over the traditional liposuction.
A laser liposuction is done following three steps. The first step is to realize a pure local anaesthesia by injecting a local anaesthetic into the fat. The second step is to use the laser. The laser melts the fat, heats the skin (which will stimulate collagen production and skin retraction). The third and last step is like a liposuction. The fat is sucked out of the body with a cannula. It is the body sculpting phase.
So what are the advantages of a laser liposuction over a liposuction and why ?
-1 Better skin retraction : the laser brings heat into the fat layer. The heat will stimulate cells called fibroblasts to produce collagen. This collagen production will take place for weeks after the laser liposuction and will give a much better skin quality and retraction which is a key point in obtaining a good cosmetic result.
–2 Local anaesthesia: Liposuction is done with a general anaesthesia. This means a risk of accident, complications and even death. It is true that spectacular advances have been made and today those risks are 90% lower than in the eighties but anyway those risks do exist. The only way to totally eliminate these risks is not to use a general anaesthesia but a pure local anaesthesia.
Laser liposuction uses a pure local anaesthesia as described by Dr Jeffrey Klein (1). He has demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to suck out two or three litres of fat with a local anaesthesia. Furthermore he has demonstrated the safety and the absence of toxicity for the patient if using a local anaesthetic. You can read a brief history of liposuction and its developments by clicking here.
-3 Smaller cannulas: liposuction is done using a cannula with a 4 to 6mm diameter. This increases the risk of taking to much fat and getting waves and unevenness.
Laser liposuction is done with a 1,2mm cannula for the laser and a 2 to 3mm cannula for the suction. It means that the surgeon take less fat and reduce the risk of a poor aesthetic result. Of course this will increase the length of the procedure because it takes more time to extract the same amount of fat but it reduces greatly the risk of waves and unevenness.
–4 Less blood loss: the local anaesthesia uses a mix of local anaesthetic and adrenalin. Adrenalin has the effect to close the blood vessels into the fat layer. The result is a minimal blood loss. This preparation is also time consuming and a liposuction with a general anaesthesia usually avoid this step.
The laser will also help to lower the bleeding by coagulating the small blood vessels. A reduced blood loss means less bruising and a faster recovery.
-5 Better aesthetic control: during a liposuction the patient is artificially put to sleep and is unable to move. This means that sometimes the surgeon has no way to check if he is doing a good job.
During a laser liposuction the patient is awake and in control. It is very easy for the surgeon to ask the patient to change his position which gives the surgeon a much better visual control of his job so the chances of a pleasant aesthetic result are much higher.
-5 Faster recovery time : the patient is awake and the surgeon does not have to rush to keep the anaesthesia time to a minimum. This means that the surgeon will be much less aggressive thus creating less trauma to the tissues.
Reduced trauma to the tissue and reduced blood loss equals less swelling, less bruising, less pain. People are back to their normal activities after two days. There is usually no need of pain killers after a laser liposuction.
In summary : laser liposuction is less aggressive with a faster recovery time, much less risks, no lethal risk at all and better cosmetic results.
The other side of the coin is that it takes much more time than a traditional liposuction ( typically 3 hours versus one hour ) which is the reason why big hospitals running expensive theatres don’t offer it as it is not profitable for them.
To find a good practitioner you have to look at private office surgeries and clinics. As usual the first consultation is crucial. The doctor should be able to explain all the things listed above and to give you a clear explanation of the procedure.
To see before after pictures and learn more about laser liposuction please visit this page.
(1)Dr Klein:“Tumescent Technique : tumescent anesthesia and microcannular liposuction. St Louis. Mosby. 2000.”