In regions where it is difficult to use traditional liposuction techniques to remove fibrous fatty tissue, laser liposuction can help get the job done. For example, gynecomastia or male breasts often have more fibrous fatty layers that are difficult to treat with the traditional liposuction methods. Areas that have already been treated with liposuction in the past also tend to have more fibrous tissues. Using thermal, heat energy generated using a laser can significantly improve the treatment outcomes and the ease with which fibrotic areas of the body are treated.
Another important advantage of using laser-assisted liposuction has to do with the skin overlying the area being treated. The use of a 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser has a specialized impact on the skin tissues causing damage that ultimately encourages the growth of new collagen in the dermal layers of the skin. Collagen is responsible for making the skin more elastic and thus more youthful in appearance. Laser liposuction, by evenly distributing the heat energy to 39 to 40 degree Celcius in the area being treated, can provide patients with these added benefits. Initially, the skin overlying the treated area will not manifest noticeable elastic qualities, but in the weeks following surgery, new collagen is formed, encouraging the skin to retract over the area that has been sculpted, giving it a look of even more precision and contouring excellence.
In 1987, tumescent liposuction significantly diminished the problem of hemorrhage associated with the procedure. In tumescent liposuction epinephrine in the solution that's injected into the body causes blood vessels to contract, lessening the amount of bleeding associated with the procedure. Laser liposuction, however, goes a step further. The heat from the lasers actually cause the blood in damaged blood vessels to coagulate, which cuts down a great deal on blood loss, particularly over the traditional method of liposuction. In reality, tumescent and laser liposuction both diminish blood loss significantly over traditional liposuction techniques, but through different means. Sometimes the regulatory mechanisms that inhibit blood loss can cause an increased risk of hematomas (a solid swelling of blood in the tissues), but these typically resolve on their own with time.
Laser liposuction is, most importantly, associated with better outcomes and a more comfortable recovery period after the procedure. However, in some instances, patients experience increased swelling, perhaps due to damage done to the tissues by heat from the laser. However, despite the possibility of increased swelling, individuals who are having fibrous areas of the body treated like male breasts or previously treated areas, the outcomes are enhanced. When individuals are in need of skin tightening and a boost in elasticity, laser liposuction is also the recommended choice, though there may be prolonged swelling that results from the necessity of heat damage to the dermal layers of the skin.
As with any surgical procedure, there are also risks and disadvantages. Laser liposuction is, of course, no exception. Indeed, the use of a laser may enhance certain aspects of the liposuction procedure, but create risks in regard to other aspects. For example, even when the laser is used expertly, with control over where it is targeted and the temperature used, burns are still possible. This is particularly true for superficial areas of the skin. Using the laser to improve the elasticity of the skin usually involves a superficial pass over the targeted area. Some damage to the skin is necessary in order to increase collagen in the dermis and burns are somewhat inevitable in some instances, as a result.
Though laser liposuction can ease the difficulty of working with fibrotic areas of the body, it is typically associated with longer surgery in comparison with tumescent liposuction. Laser liposuction takes longer because fat has to be melted before it is suctioned out of the body using the cannula. And the additional time it takes for the surgeon to use the laser to encourage collagen growth can also add to the number of minutes required for the surgery. Usually, laser liposuction requires an additional 10 to 30 minutes of time per area being treated.
Laser liposuction is also associated with higher costs than tumescent liposuction because it takes longer to perform and the outcomes include histological improvements to the skin. The cost of the procedure is, of course, contingent on many factors including the area being treated and the amount of fat to be removed, but generally, speaking patients pursuing laser liposuction will end up paying more for the procedure than patients who get tumescent liposuction done.
Laser liposuction, when properly performed, is a procedure with relatively few risks and complications associated with it. Infection and burns are always a risk with this procedure, but the risk of both is remarkably low using the 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser for treatment. Doctors try to stay between 39 and 40 degrees Celcius when treating the patient, with 39 degrees representing the optimal temperature for producing the desired effects to the fat and skin cells without producing burns.
Though laser liposuction may be the best choice in your situation, often, patients should consider the possibility of using tumescent liposuction to achieve the same ends. It's true that laser liposuction is a more successful procedure when used on fibrotic areas of the body, but tumescent methods can achieve many of the same effects with less time in surgery and at a lower cost. Tumescent liposuction is associated with similar advantages as laser liposuction including a reduction in blood loss, diminished incidence of hematomas, and a shortened recovery time. Doctors are able to achieve results using tumescent liposuction that are comparable to the results achieved using laser liposuction. It's important to consider the procedures side-by-side and decide which one is truly best for you.
Both tumescent liposuction and laser liposuction have successfully addressed the issue of bleeding and blood loss during this surgical procedure. Though blood loss was a major issue with traditional liposuction, this is a thing of the past. Because of the advancements in liposuction surgery, the procedure is done on an outpatient basis. Immediately following the procedure, patients are able to get up and walk around and even return to work in about two days. As such, the risks and complications associated with both laser and tumescent liposuction is comparable.
Vibration-assisted liposuction raises the bar a bit for tumescent liposuction up against laser liposuction. When vibration is used during a tumescent liposuction procedure, there is reduced trauma to the tissues and patients experience less discomfort at a level similar to that of laser liposuction, which is worth considering if you're looking into having a liposuction procedure performed.
The final outcome of laser liposuction is roughly equivalent to the outcomes achieved through traditional liposuction. Indeed, similar results can be achieved using tumescent liposuction as well, especially when high volumes of tumescent fluids are applied to the targeted area.
Another consideration is the fact that the increase in skin elasticity brought about through laser liposuction has not been thoroughly studied. The procedures used to accomplish skin tightening have not been standardized. The increase in skin elasticity has not been measured such that it can be predicted within a particular range by patients.
Different devices utilizing different wavelengths of energy produce different results. Doctor's preferences are mostly based on personal experience with different devices and wavelengths of energy rather than on scientific evidence and standardized procedures.
Laser liposuction is particularly suited for fibrotic areas of the body, though excellent results can be obtained in other areas of the body as well. Patients tend to enjoy the idea of melting the fat cells before suctioning it out of the body and as such, the satisfaction from the procedure tends to be high. However, patients can still obtain very respectable, if not comparable, results from tumescent liposuction and should consider the pros and cons of each before deciding which one is right for them.
Checklist of Questions to Ask Your Liposuction Doctor
- At what age can a person have liposuction performed?
- What areas of the body can be treated using liposuction?
- Is it normal for the skin to be “dimpled” following a liposuction procedure?
- If dents or ripples in the skin are noticeable after I've recovered from liposuction, can these be corrected?
- Is it okay to have liposuction performed on areas of the body with loose or sagging skin?
- I have had keloid scarring in the past, will liposuction result in problematic scar tissue for me?
- Is banking my own blood necessary for this procedure? Will there be a lot of blood loss and the potential need for a blood transfusion?
- Is it necessary to perform large-volume liposuction, involving the removal of larger amounts of fat, in a hospital setting?
- If I've had liposuction performed and then I gain weight, will the fat be distributed in odd places on my body?
- Is it still possible to gain weight in the area that was treated with liposuction?
- If I gain weight after having a liposuction treatment, will I be able to gain fat in the area that was treated?
- Is it possible to have liposuction done on the same area twice?
- Is it possible to have liposuction performed in conjunction with other procedures like breast augmentation or a tummy tuck?
- How many pounds of fat can be suctioned from the body during one surgical procedure?
- What kind of recovery period should I expect?
- How many days of work will I need to take off?
- Will I be given general or local anesthetic for this procedure?
- How painful is the liposuction procedure?
- Will pain medication be prescribed?
- When will I be able to return to my normal exercise routine?
- I am currently in the process of losing weight. Should I wait to do liposuction until I've lost some more weight?
- What are the steps involved in a liposuction procedure?
- Can liposuction be used to treat cellulite?
- How many liposuction procedures like mine do you perform each year?
- Approximately what percentage of your patients are unsatisfied, requiring touch-ups or a redo following the procedure?