Today’s liposuction procedures are far advanced from their initial beginnings, when Italian and French surgeons first used suction to remove fat in 1974. There have been two significant advancements in liposuction surgery since then. The first of these in 1985 was the transition to tumescent liposuction, developed by California dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Klein, where a smaller cannula is used for the procedure. The other significant advancement in liposuction has been the addition of laser light to the procedure, a technique called Smartlipo. Smartlipo received its FDA approval in 2006.
Best for: Body and face
How it works: Uses laser energy delivered to the tissues with a fiber to purportedly break up fat cells. Some plastic surgeons believe it offers the added benefit of slight tightening of loose skin, although these claims are debatable, the effects are unpredictable and results may be only slightly better than other liposuction techniques.
Upside: Purportedly less swelling and bruising than other techniques, but not supported by scientific data.
Downside: There’s the possibility of burns and lingering tissue injury (firmness and swelling). This procedure costs more and takes longer. Liposuction is still required to remove fat after the laser treatment. There has been a lot of marketing of laser-assisted lips but results vary from individual so it is difficult to prove that is the better alternative to other forms of liposuction.
Best for: Soft fat areas (arms, inner thigh, neck and lower abdomen
How it works: Traditional liposuction uses hollow metal tubes called cannulas to remove fat from areas of the body where it is localized into fatty deposits. While effective in areas where the tissue is less fibrous, other forms of power-assisted and energy-based ultrasonic liposuction may offer better outcomes in more fibrous areas (upper abdomen, posterior waist, bra rolls, etc.).
Other useful terms to know include:
Body Contouring is when procedures are done to reduce or remove excess skin from patients who have lost a large amount of weight. The areas usually targeted for this procedure include the upper arms, chest, torso, and thighs.
Facelifts (also known as rhytidectomy) are a type of cosmetic surgery where the patient’s face is given a more youthful appearance. This facial toning procedure can be done with a variety of surgical techniques. In a 2011 study done by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, facelifts were among the most popular cosmetic surgeries. In order of popularity it came in 6th after 1. liposuction, 2. breast augmentation, 3. abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), 4. blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and 5. breast lift.
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