Question: I have recently read about a new liposuction technique that uses a laser. The article said that there is little bruising, and a quick recovery time? How is this different from standard liposuction?
Answer: Liposuction has evolved tremendously over the last several decades. In the past two decades alone, a number of new techniques and instruments have been developed for liposuction surgery, the most recent of which is the use of a laser.
In 1987, the Tumescent technique for liposuction was introduced to the cosmetic surgery world. This procedure was probably the biggest advancement in liposuction thus far in terms of overall patient comfort, convenience, and outcome. Tumescent liposuction was the first technique developed that permits liposuction in small volumes to be accomplished totally by local anesthesia with minimal bruising. The tumescent liposuction technique uses large volumes of a very diluted solution of saline, local anesthesia, and epinephrine that is gently injected into the targeted fat. This injection numbs the area, firms up the skin around it, and reduces blood loss and bruising. Once the area is desensitized, the surgeon makes a small incision in the skin and is able to suction out the fat and fluid using a fine probe. This allows a surgeon with good technique to deliver a smooth, unrippled appearance to the surgical site.
Other advances in liposuction in recent times are ultrasonic liposuction and power-assisted liposuction, both of which utilize the Tumescent technique. At this time, laser-assisted liposuction is more of a gimmick than an advance in surgery. The word laser indicates a more precise and advanced procedure, however the current technology falls short of that.
In laser liposuction, a small laser fiber is inserted in the fatty layer of the tissues, the laser then melts (dissolves) the fat that it comes in contact with. The liquefied fat cells are then either absorbed by the body or removed by suction. The absorption makes accurate measurement of the fat removed impossible. This can create problems with symmetry in the final result. Laser-assisted liposuction is also only designed to be used in small areas of the body.
In my opinion, Tumescent liposuction remains the procedure of choice for both small and large areas of the body because of its minimal bruising and swelling, rapid recovery time, and it’s reliable outcome.