How to Prepare for Laser Lipo Treatment
Prior to the procedure, it is important to discuss your expectations and the results that you desire with the cosmetic surgeon. Note that laser lipo is only recommended for the removal of a maximum of 500 ml of fat. Larger quantities will require the use of traditional liposuction.
Consult your surgeon regarding specific instructions and guidelines before a laser lipo treatment. Ask whether you should refrain from taking certain medications as some drugs are known to interact with the anesthetic solution. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be discontinued as they tend to thin the blood, causing excessive bleeding during the procedure. You may also be asked to stop drinking alcoholic beverages or coffee. If you smoke, it is imperative that you quit at least six weeks before laser lipo or any other surgical procedure. Aside from all the detrimental health effects, smoking also delays and disrupts the healing process. The night before the treatment, make sure you don't eat or drink anything past midnight.
Laser lipo is generally an outpatient procedure, which means it can be performed in your cosmetic surgeon's clinic. It is minimally invasive, requiring just a small incision in the target area. In most cases, the incisions don't even require sutures to close.
The first thing that the cosmetic surgeon will do is mark the precise areas on your body that require treatment. Then, the target area will be numbed using a small amount of anesthetic solution. The surgeon will inject the anesthesia under the skin and may also apply a numbing solution topically to make sure you feel no pain or discomfort throughout the procedure. The surgeon will make a small incision, approximately 1 to 3 mm, after which a special cannula (1mm wide metal tube) will be inserted and carefully guided to the target area. Then the laser probe will be threaded through to direct energy at the fatty tissue. The surgeon can see exactly where the laser is because the reddish beam of light is clearly visible through the skin.
The laser has a thermal effect, warming and eventually liquefying the fat cells. The melted fat is drained away and absorbed by the lympathic system of the body. Any remaining liquefied fat will be suctioned out to speed up and enhance the results. If the liquefied fat is sucked out directly, the results are immediately visible after the surgery. Otherwise, you may have to wait for about 3 to 6 months to see the actual results. The laser also causes small blood vessels to coagulate, thereby reducing the amount of bleeding and swelling. It also affects dermal collagen which later causes the skin to contract and tighten.
You will be awake and comfortable throughout the procedure, although there could be some tugging and mild stinging sensation. The procedure lasts between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the size and number of areas requiring treatment. If a large amount of fat needs to be removed, a second treatment session may be required. This is normally scheduled several months after the initial surgery.
General vs. Local Anesthesia
The vast majority of patients require only local or tumescent anesthesia when undergoing laser lipo, but in some very rare cases general anesthesia is used. The cosmetic surgeon will decide the appropriate level of anesthesia, based on the total area to be treated and with consideration to the individual needs and preferences of patients. In some cases, a mild sedative is also administered to make the patient feel more comfortable. The specifications of the laser head also influence the required level of anaesthesia. In general, the more powerful the laser head, the lower the concentration of anesthesia and the shorter the treatment time.
Areas Best Treated by Laser Lipo
Laser liposuction can be used to treat almost any area of the body containing unwanted fatty deposits. Laser lipo has been developed and designed to treat localized fat pockets with virtually no disruption to adjacent tissue in the following areas:
- Face - except the area around the eyes
- Chin - double or hanging chin
- Chest – especially men with gynecomastia
- Upper arms
- Flanks (love-handles)
- Pubic mound
- Inner and outer thighs (saddle bags)
Potential Laser Liposuction Side Effects
The recovery from laser lipo surgery is quick although the procedure is not risk-free and may cause a few side effects. Swelling is common but it usually takes only a few days to subside; however, there are cases when it takes several months to resolve, obscuring the treated area. Laser lipo can also cause seroma or the accumulation of tissue fluid in the affected area. This should spontaneously disappear within a month.
Excessive bleeding and infection are rare, but they can occur in certain cases. Another risk is the development of uneven or asymmetrical results. These can be caused by the excision of a higher amount of fat from one area than the other. However, this is more of cosmetic in nature and does not involve any serious health conditions. Scarring may also be a problem although it is usually minimal. The risk increases for patients that require sutures or stitches after the procedure. Other common side-effects are skin problems such as thermal injuries and skins burns. Remember that the unwanted fat is broken down and melted using thermal energy from the laser.
All the aforementioned laser lipo side-effects can be avoided or kept to a minimum if the surgery is performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon with considerable experience in this particular field.