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Body Sculpting "EXPOSED"

Liposuction has become one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. In 2010 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported 168,770 liposuction surgeries performed by its members. However, standard suction-assisted liposuction is quickly becoming overshadowed by newer, trendier liposuction techniques. In recent years liposuction surgery options have grown to include non-surgical treatments that allege to rival liposuction results. With so many “body sculpting options available it can be difficult to know which method is right for you.

In 1974 Dr. Giorgio Fischer, a gynecologist from Italy, invented the original form of liposuction (defined as the removal of fat from deposits beneath the skin using a cannula assisted by vacuum). French physicians Illouz and Fournier further developed better techniques around 1978. In 1985 Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein, a California Dermatologist, invented the “Tumescent Technique” that allowed patients to have liposuction with more predictable results.

Since 1985 the aging baby boomers’ desire to retain their youth and societies need to have immediate results created a need to have body sculpting techniques that were “easier, with faster results”. The internet created an advertising medium that made information (true and false) readily available to the consumer. From a web-based spa that advertises cream manufactured in Mexico for “home-based” liposuction, to a spa that advertises scarless “tummy tuck”, there are countless advertisements that offer to tighten skin and, reduce fat and cellulite. “No down time, drugs, pain or needles” is their call to action.


>Other offerings are:

-Power assisted Liposuction (PAL) uses a device which utilizes power supplied by an electric motor or compressed air to produce either a rapid in and out movement or a spinning rotation of an attached liposuction cannula.

-Vaser Liposuction (also called Lipo Selection) is another alternate technology to traditional liposuction. Vaser ultra sonic liposuction is a process by which fatty deposits are removed from beneath the skin to improve the aesthetics of a particular body part.

-Laser liposuction (Smart Lipo) requires the use of tumescent fluid and uses a microcannula inserted through a small incision to deliver laser energy and heat into subcutaneous fat.

-Cool Lipo (Cool Sculpting by Zeltiq) uses a precisely controlled cooling method called Cryolipolysis to target, cool, and eliminate fat cells without damage to neighboring tissue. Expectation is 20% improvement.

-Pro Lipo PLUS (Laser Sciton) targets precise contouring of the body. Laser typically reduces bleeding and bruising.

-Lipo-Lite, is just another form of laser liposuction that uses a 1064 nm wavelength to melt away and remove fat. Other laser assisted brand names are Lipo Therme and Lipo Control. They all offer minimal invasiveness.

-Water Jet assisted liposuction is yet another method of fat removal. Water jet assisted liposuction actually uses a slightly pressurized stream of salt water to dislodge fat and simultaneously remove the cells to facilitate more gentle removal.

Excess fat deposits on the body that are diet and exercise resistant may respond to liposuction. Ideal candidates for liposuction are:

-Adults within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone.

-Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical complications that can impair healing.

-Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body sculpting, not weight loss.

In February 2011, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASPS) conducted a survey of 492 of its members asking them to evaluate current liposuction trends and report their preferences. The results revealed that most plastic surgeons prefer standard tumescent or suction-assisted liposuction to trendier methods. All surgeons surveyed were board certified and performed 51-100 liposuction procedures each year. Questions were asked covering their experience using various techniques, applications and complications, etc. It is unsurprising that plastic surgeons don’t favor non-surgical fat removal methods. Over half surveyed still prefer the original liposuction method: standard suction-assisted liposuction.

Before and After Photo after using Standard Suction-Assisted Liposuction. Provided by the ASPS.

A common assumption is that new medical devices should yield higher success rates compared to older systems. Because new products have the added edge of modern research and past testing results, we would expect newer liposuction techniques to out shine and outperform their predecessors. But in this case plastic surgeons have weighed in to say newer lipo doesn’t equal better lipo. Surveyed plastic surgeons reported a higher rate of complications with the newer procedures like laser lipo and mesotherapy, etc. It is unclear whether this higher rate of laser liposuctions complications was due to inexperience, system ineffectiveness, lack of training on new lipo systems, poor patient selections…or a combination of these factors.

Many surgeons indicated that “industry marketing to physicians without appropriate aesthetic surgery training” created problems when implementing new trendy liposuction procedures at a practice. The most common reason to choose the trendier methods was the media not proven results.

Whatever body sculpting procedure you are considering, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. A consultation appointment lets patients discuss their questions and concerns with an experienced professional to help inform their surgery decisions. During the appointment, plastic surgeons will also provide knowledgeable recommendations on which body contouring procedure is most appropriate for you based on your personal fat removal goals, body type and BMI, any existing medical conditions, and your surgery budget.

The results of liposuction can be very satisfying when the patient has real expectations of what can be achieved and seeks the services of a board certified plastic surgeon. Easier, faster, cheaper is not better or more likely to achieve the desired results. The need to have an immediate slimmer body has created so many body sculpting options it can be difficult to know which method is right for you. Caveat emptor!! (Let the buyer beware)

-Martha Hahus, Clinical Nurse Coordinator-