Liposuction, one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the United States, is continually and evolving and improving. Since its origins in the 1970s, liposuction has made many advancements, but one of the most significant of these may be the introduction of SmartLipo, a laser lipolysis system.
A liposuction procedure, also known as lipoplasty, is a minimal incision surgery (no stitches are typically required) in which fat tissue is suctioned from the body. Liposuction is an excellent option if you have stubborn body fat that won’t go away no matter how much you diet or exercise. It is also ideal if you have centralized deposits of fat that you wish to reduce. Although both traditional liposuction and SmartLipo will successfully remove unwanted body fat, key differences between the two are important to note. In traditional liposuction a long thin tube-like instrument, called a cannula, is inserted into the targeted area of fat and is physically manipulated (moved in a back-and-forth motion) to suction the fat from beneath the skin. This type of liposuction can have a longer recovery time than SmartLipo because of increased bruising and swelling.
SmartLipo, on the other hand, requires less downtime and a recovery period of only a few days. The latest SmartLipo system (SmartLipo TriPlex, the system that Dr. Langdon uses) consists of three separate laser wavelengths that heat the targeted fatty tissue. These three laser wavelengths have three beneficial effects: specifically heating and liquefying fat cells, coagulating small blood vessels, and heating and contracting connective tissue (collagen). Dr. Langdon then uses a cannula to suction out the fat, as is done in traditional liposuction. Liquified fat cells are more readily removed by liposuction; the coagulation of small blood vessels minimizes bruising and swelling post-operatively; and the contraction of collagen tightens the overlying skin.
SmartLipo also has the added benefit of utilizing the laser heat to tighten the skin. The skin-tightening effect of SmartLipo is especially beneficial for patients who may have lost some elasticity in their skin. Traditional liposuction provides less skin tightening, which can result in dimpling or sagging after the procedure.
Although traditional liposuction and SmartLipo both remove unwanted fat from the body, it is important to understand key differences between the two procedures, such as recovery time and tightening of the skin, and compare them before deciding which procedure is right for you.