Is Liposuction Dead?With so many new liposuction technologies on the market, it begs the question:

Is traditional liposuction the safest, most effective method of removing fat and reshaping the body?

Alternatively referred to as lipoplasty, liposculpture suction lipectomy or just lipo, liposuction is a fat removal procedure that help slim and reshape specific areas of your body.

As you know, even with exercise and a healthy diet it’s difficult or almost impossible to get rid of certain pockets of fat.

While traditional liposuction remains the leading form of liposuction, recent technological advancements have emerged offering a wider range of minimally invasive and non-surgical liposuction alternatives including:

  • Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction such as VASERlipo or LipoSelection
  • Laser Assisted Liposuction such as Slim lipo, Smart lipo, CoolLipo
  • Radio Frequency Assisted Liposuction such as BodyTite
  • Non-invasive Liposuction alternatives such as ThermiSmooth, Trusculpt, VASERshape
  • and other minimally invasive liposuction alternatives such as ThermiTight

These liposuction alternatives offer their own set of pros and cons — as discussed in our other articles titled “Types of Liposuction” and “Non-Surgical Liposuction Alternatives“.

Additionally, many of these new liposuction techniques cost less and claim to be safer with minimal downtime.

Commonly Treated AreasThese procedures target the most common complaint areas including:

  • love handles
  • abdomen
  • buttocks
  • arms
  • thighs
  • hips
  • chin
  • calves
  • and more

No wonder men and women alike are now considering liposuction for their body contouring.

What’s Wrong With Traditional Liposuction?

Traditional liposuction typically involves several key processes:

  • general anesthesia or tumescent fluid to numb the area
  • manually or mechanically loosening the fat
  • suctioning it out of the body

Depending on the experience of your cosmetic professional, the complications caused by traditional liposuction may include connective tissue, blood vessel and nerve damage. The side effects associated with these complications include pain, blood loss, excessive swelling and bruising, nerve pain.

One of the advancements in traditional liposuction is the use of mechanized devices.

This technique is called…

Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL)

This is a modern technique that utilizes an electric or air-pressured device to move the cannula back and forth, vibrate or in a rotating manner. Cosmetic surgeons use it to make it easier to break through the fat cells and reduce the manual labor involved.

This technique allows for smaller cannulas which effectively decreases damage to connective tissue and blood vessels while increasing definition.

Which New Comer Techniques Threaten Traditional Liposuction?

The popularity of liposuction as a cosmetic procedure has paved the way for advancements of new liposuction techniques that are less traumatic, less painful, minimally invasive, have shorter downtime and quick recovery.

Let’s touch on how each technique works:

Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction (UAL)

Ultrasonic liposuction such as VASERlipo uses high frequency ultrasound technology to liquefy the fat deep into the skin prior to removal.

The procedure is tissue selective (also known as Liposelection), which means that it targets fat cells only. Blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves are left intact during the process. After the fat is liquefied, a gentle suction cannula is used to remove the fat.

Minimal bruising and swelling are common and downtime is minimal. You can often return to work after 3 days.

Laser Assisted Liposuction

This technique utilizes laser thermal energy to dissolve excess fat and tighten the surrounding skin. Common treatments include Slim lipo and Smart lipo. The laser heat energy, liquefies fat to make it easier to remove with the help of a suction cannula. In addition to enhancing skin tightening, this technique triggers collagen formation which helps in skin regeneration in the treated region.

This technique is not tissue selective, however, bruising and bleeding are reduced as the area treated is slightly cauterized as a result of the heat energy.

Radiofrequency Liposuction Alternative

This new liposuction alternative technique melts small deposits of fat which is subsequently eliminated by the body. Incisions are still required to apply the radiofrequency energy beneath the skin, directly onto the fat layer. Results are immediate and improve over time as collagen regenerates.

Treatments that use radiofrequency such as ThermiTight are quickly gaining popularity because it treats both small pockets of fat as well as skin tightening.

Non-Surgical Liposuction Alternatives

Non-surgical liposuction alternatives are also giving traditional liposuction a run for the money because they introduce the possibility of contouring the body by reducing fat in stubborn areas without having surgery.

Typically, non-surgical liposuction alternatives aim to heat or cold fat cells to shrink, melt or dissolve them. They don’t require anesthesia, meaning the recovery time is non-existent.

That’s right!

  • No incisions
  • No scars
  • No pain
  • No bruising
  • No recovery period

Not having to go under the knife completely eradicates any complications.

In a nutshell, here is how this liposuction alternatives work:

Laser Liposuction Alternative

Low level laser uses light energy to disrupt the normal structure of fat cells, causing them to shrink. Common treatment areas include thighs, arms and abdomen. Because laser treatments reach fat cells just beneath the skin, up to eight treatments may be required. Treatments the use this technology include Zerona and iLipo.

Ultrasound Liposuction Alternatives

Treatments the use ultrasound technology to remove fat include VASERshape and Liposonix. These treatments reach deeper into the fat layer below the skin than laser. The fat cell targeted are heated to dissolve them and later discarded through your lymphatic system.

Cryolipolysis (Laser)

Cryolipolysis is a laser treatment that aims to freeze your fat cells so that they dissolve while leaving your skin intact. Like liposuction, the effects of the procedure reduces the amount of fat cells in your body which results in long lasting effects. Common areas treated are flanks, abdomen and thighs. Popular Cryolipolyis treatments include  Cool Sculpting.

Which Liposuction Alternative Is Best For Me?

Doctors agree that experience and artistry are key to well sculpted, natural looking results.

Start by assessing the body regions you want reshaped or fat removed.

If your particular liposuction will require skin removal such as a tummy tuck or facelift, then a surgical setting with general anesthesia will be required.

Otherwise if you’re looking to remove hard to get rid of fat deposits or contour your body then a liposuction alternative procedure will suffice.

Remember, all forms of surgical liposuction should only be performed by a medical professional with special training in liposuction. Doctors have different techniques and artistry which produce different results. Take a look at before and after pictures of patients that your doctor has treated.

If surgery is not an option for you – for whatever reason – then be aware that non-surgical liposuction alternatives vary in the amount of treatments needed. They also help reduce the unwanted fat deposits over a period of weeks or months.

Kevin Earl, MD

Kevin Earl, MD

Kevin Earl, MD is a board certified physician and graduated from Arkansas Tech University Magna Cum Laude.

Dr. Earl specializes in non-invasive and minimally invasive anti-aging and body contouring procedures.

His practice, EARLMD in Bentonville, AR, is a patient-centered medical aesthetic practice that uses the latest technology and medical advances to rejuvenate your skin and restore your body to a more youthful appearance.

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