Find a Doctor
Smartlipo vs. Lipodissolve - New Liposuction Techniques to Melt the Fat Away

Smartlipo vs. Lipodissolve - New Liposuction Techniques to Melt the Fat Away


The surgical removal of fat is not a new procedure, but one that has been performed for several decades. Initially, the technique involved the use of large cannulaes and high-pressure vacuum suction. The procedure was successful at removing the subcutaneous fat, but the patient often had depressions and contour irregularities that were unattractive. Additionally, patients could lose dangerously high amounts of blood. In the 1980s, the equipment was refined, allowing surgeons to work with smaller instruments and have better control over the suctioning process. The tumescent technique was introduced to significantly reduce skin depressions and to mobilize the fat for removal. Tumescence involves the infiltration of a bio-compatible fluid into the fat layer, thereby mobilizing the cells and reducing the blood flow to the area, dramatically reducing blood loss and improving upon the final results with smoother skin contours.

It should be stressed that liposuction, by any process, involves the removal of the entire fat cell. The fat cell is a storage unit for excess calories; we are born with a finite number and, except for the obese and individuals who undergo liposuction, those cell numbers remain constant throughout life. When body weight reaches the obese range, the fat cells begin to divide, creating new cells and a greater capacity for fat storage. Those new cells then fill up with fat, and the cycle continues. This explains why many overweight individuals have so much difficulty losing weight. The fat cells may become smaller in response to dieting, but they never decrease in number, unless they are surgically removed. The skin stretches, often permanently, to accommodate the extra bulk, and so we begin to weigh more and look fat.

Surgery, especially liposuction, is responsible for removing the storage units and their contents; that is, the fat cells themselves. The weight of the individual is reduced, but even more noticeably, the contour of the treatment area is refined and improved. The excess skin in the area of fat removal presents the next aesthetic challenge in body contouring surgery. Sometimes the skin shrinks in response to liposuction, but when it does not, the contour problem remains. One solution is, of course, to remove the skin, but that solution results in large scars and considerably more surgical time, increasing the risk of dangerous blood loss and infectious complications.

Recently, another solution for skin shrinkage has presented itself in the form of a laser that generates a particular wave length, specifically targeted to the undersurface of the skin. Through a series of clinical trials and research, Smartlipo™ has finally been approved by the FDA for clinical use. Smartlipo™ involves the use of a fiber, enclosed in a tube with the tip exposed. This fiber is introduced into the skin though the incisions through which the fat cells had been removed and delivers a series of pulses to the dermis. The skin, then, contracts so that it more favorably encloses the new and improved contour. The laser liposuction technique is designed to target damaged, stretch-marked skin, greatly improving the final, healed appearance.

Another technique being marketed for liposuction assistance is Lipodissolve™. This procedure involves the injection of a toxic liquid that dissolves fat, often without the need for anesthesia. On the surface, it may seem that this option is the best and least invasive. But consider, for the moment, what actually happens as the fat is being destroyed in the body without being removed. The body must take up this damaged fat and dispose of it, not to mention the toxic liquid. In large areas, that process can take months and expose the individual to the risk of retained fragments with severe lumps and bumps, and even infection of the necrotic fat particles. Lipodissolve™ may be useful for treating small areas of fat, but in most of us, the fatty deposits are extensive and the risks are, therefore, simply too great.

There are many ways to accomplish the results you desire. Consider safety first, and be certain that the results warrant the time and expense of the procedure. These issues can be confusing and complicated for the lay person to understand; that is why you should discuss them with your surgeon, who should be delighted to talk with you. You will have the opportunity to see a variety of photographs of pre-operative and post-operative results during your consultation. Additionally, you may be offered the opportunity to talk with patients who have had the particular procedure you are considering, in order to better understand the healing process and expected outcomes. The time for recovery, the discomfort, and the garments provided to assist in your healing are specific to your procedure and should not be generalized here, but must be outlined for you prior to your anticipated surgery.

If diet and exercise alone have not restored the form that you are hoping to achieve, and you are in good health with reasonable expectations, a surgical procedure, skillfully, safely, and artfully preformed, might assist in transforming you into the best that you can be. That mission describes the goals and aspirations of your plastic surgeon. I am pleased to announce that my surgical center, Annapolis Aesthetic Surgery, Inc., is one of the first in the Annapolis, Maryland area to offer Smartlipo™.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.