Traditionally people think of liposuction as being one thing: a surgeon takes unwanted fat out. Although this is true on a base level, there are several types of liposuction that each have their own unique benefits and limitations.
For patients looking to sculpt their body into a more pleasing figure or get rid of those last few stubborn pounds of fat, education about the different liposuction types can be very valuable. Surgeons normally only specialize in only one type of liposuction or another, so patients have a better chance of achieving their goals if they know what each procedure can offer before stepping into a doctor's office.
Manual Liposuction Types
Within the different regions listed above, there are several different manual techniques that a surgeon can use to eliminate fat:
Liposuction traditionally involves taking a thin steel tube (called a cannula) connected to a powerful suction pump and removing extra fat by inserting it through an incision. Once inserted, the plastic surgeon helps break up the fat by manipulating the cannula and injecting fluid into the area (although amounts vary by surgeon's preference).
This is the most common type of liposuction and is very effective in taking out fat, although it does carry some risks. Still, an American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery survey published in the February 2011 issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal shows that with all the different liposuction types available, over half of America's plastic surgeons prefer traditional liposuction.
This popular liposuction type uses a specialized cannula that emits ultrasonic sound waves into the fat deposits to liquify fat and make it easier to remove. By using ultrasound, larger and denser fat deposits can be removed and skin will be tighter, but there is a greater risk of burns and scarring due to the heat the ultrasounds create.
This is a particular type of ultrasonic liposuction, developed by VASER®, where the fat tissue is emulsified with ultrasound prior to removal and is then broken up even further with the LipoSelection® probe. The fat is then easily taken out with liposuction tubes, leaving the surrounding blood vessels, nerves and other tissue virtually unharmed. This technique has less pain and bruising than most other types of liposuction, but is somewhat more expensive.
Tumescent liposuction involves injections of solution in large amounts into the targeted area. The solution is a special cocktail of pain killer, fat enlarger, and blood-vessel shrinker; helping ease pain without general anesthesia, suction out fat, and reduce bleeding. Any risks lie within how much of the solution is injected, and how much lidocaine is utilized within it.
By employing a cannula that has a vibrating tip in power assisted liposuction, surgeons are able to break up fat cells for easier removal. It also allows for more fat to be removed, smaller incisions, reduced recovery time, and a safer procedure since the cannula can be moved with smaller, more exact movements. In short, a technique that pulls out more fat with less bruising and smaller scars. Still, like all liposuction techniques, skin can be left more loose and wrinkled than desired.
Laser Liposuction Types
These types of liposuction incorporate lasers to loosen the fat cells and make them easier for removal, although they are typically more expensive than manual liposuction techniques:
This is a minimally invasive technique that is designed for sensitive areas like the neck, jowls, arms and underneath the chin. CoolLipoTM also tightens skin with minimal bruising and utilizes only local anesthetic.
By applying a laser through small incisions, SlimLipo™ melts the fat before it is removed, reducing the trauma associated with normal liposuction - patients have even been known to go to work the day after the procedure.
This technique creates minimal scarring and is considered a technique used for fine tuning, removing only up to eight pounds of fat at a time.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view liposuction before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Dina Eliopoulos
There are plenty of non-invasive ways of losing weight or saying goodbye to a particularly troublesome area of fat. Visit our page on popular liposuction alternatives.
Body vs. Facial Liposuction
Although it can be used to eliminate fat, liposuction is usually most beneficial when it is used to contour the body. By strategically removing deposits of excess fat that exercise and diet have a hard time affecting, a surgeon can model a person's frame into a more attractive figure. This liposuction type can remove fat and enhance the look of the abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks, arms, tummy and breasts.
Facial liposuction is a type of liposuction that specifically sculpts the neck, chin and jowls, and is a good cosmetic accompaniment to face lifts and neck lifts. By using a micro-cannula and the tumescent technique, a surgeon can reduce the appearance of double-chins and drooping skin with minimal scarring.
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