High-Tech Liposuction: Laser versus Ultrasonic Approaches

Seattle plastic surgery patients who are looking into liposuction for the first time may be confused by their options. The latest high-tech Seattle liposuction options use laser or ultrasound energy to destroy fat cells, and may allow for a faster recovery. While both of these approaches can be effective for typical trouble spots such as the belly, hips, thighs, and arms, I typically will recommend one technique over the other depending on a patient’s needs and the body areas they want to have treated.

Here is a basic outline comparing three of the most popular liposuction options available for Seattle plastic surgery patients. While this discussion can help clarify your options, only your doctor can determine the best approach for you based on factors such as your gender (which affects tissue distribution and composition), body shape, skin quality, and goals, as well as his or her experience with these approaches.

Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction is the “basic” approach to liposuction, in which the surgeon will inject the treatment area with a solution of saline and medication to help numb the treatment area. By flooding the fat tissue with tumescent solution, the cells separate slightly from the surrounding tissue, which helps reduce bleeding when the fatty tissue is suctioned. The next step is to insert a surgical cannula into the area to be treated. The cannula breaks up the fat and suctions it from the body. This basic approach can be used on its own or combined with ultrasonic or laser-assisted techniques to remove fat more smoothly and create better-looking results.

Ultrasonic Liposuction (Vaser® LipoSelection):

  • How it works: An ultrasonic probe that vibrates at a very high frequency is inserted below the skin. The ultrasonic waves cause the walls of the fat cells to rupture, making them easier to remove without damaging the surrounding connective tissues. The Seattle liposuction surgeon then removes the fat cells with a specially designed cannula which minimizes tissue trauma
  • Advantages: Because the ultrasonic waves have little effect on surrounding fibrous connective tissue, this approach is ideal for areas where fat is more dense or fibrous , such as the lower back or male chest. There also is some evidence that the ultrasonic method has some skin-tightening effects, though these are less pronounced and predictable than with laser-assisted liposuction.
  • Popular treatment areas: Love handles, flanks, back, inner thighs, upper abdomen, male pectoral area

Laser Liposuction (Smartlipo™ MPX):

  • How it works: Through a small incision, the surgeon inserts a very fine diameter cannula that encloses a laser fiber which carries two distinct laser light beams. The laser light disrupts the fat cells, which are then easily removed using a specially designed suction cannula which minimizes tissue trauma.
  • Advantages: The MPX platform’s specially-focused wavelengths allow for maximum fat liquefaction while significantly minimizing the risk of injuring other tissues.. This approach can be very effective for small, delicate areas like the arms and face. The very fine laser probe allows the surgeon to work in the superficial skin layers, resulting in a skin-tightening effect that it is clearly an improvement over traditional tumescent liposuction techniques
  • Popular treatment areas: Lower abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, arms, male breast, and face and jaw area

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