Laser Liposuction – Is it worth the hype?

One of the “hottest” trends in plastic surgery is Laser Liposuction.  Many physicians promote this new technique as the latest and greatest in body contouring.  They point to smaller incisions, less bruising and swelling, greater skin tightening, and faster recovery. But is this hype justified, or is this just a creative attempt at marketing in a down economy?

First, let me give my qualifications to answer this question. I have been using Laser Liposuction for several years now and have been involved in several clinical studies to examine the benefits of laser-assisted lipolysis. I am also a luminary for one of the largest laser companies and am given the task of training other physicians about the proper techniques for using this technology.  I am among the most experienced in using this technology so I have a deep understanding of the advantages and limitations.

Laser liposuction has a prominent role in my practice.  I do find that it offers my patients less bruising, less swelling, and a more rapid return to normal activities. Most important is that it has a greater abililty to tighten the skin as compared with traditional liposuction methods. This is because the laser energy causes heating of the underside of the skin. This controlled thermal injury stimulates collagen organization and formation. The result is skin with a thicker dermis and more elasticity – ie. “tighter skin”.

However, there is no magic. Laser liposuction will result in tighter skin than traditional methods but it will not give a tight, smooth abdomen in a person who needs a tummy tuck.  It will not give a sculpted neck and jawline in someone who needs a necklift.  It does allow you to have liposuction in areas that plastic surgeons have traditionally avoided because of the fear of loose skin, such as the neck, upper arms, and inner thighs.

Laser liposuction may allow a more rapid recovery, but it is not the “lunch-time lipo” that has been promoted.  You will still bruise, you will still get swollen, and you will still be sore for a certain amount of time. This obviously will vary according to the amount of liposuction performed and on what area(s).

In summary, laser-assisted lipolysis can offer excellent results when performed correctly. It is commonly used in conjuction with traditional liposuction methods in order to give you an improved contour. I am a huge fan of Laser Liposuction – I use it in my practice and I routinely teach others how to use it.  However, I also make sure to give my patients a realistic idea of the improvements they can obtain. I never “over-sell” this because it will only result in a disappointed patient and an unhappy surgeon.

 Also remember, even though the incisions may be small, this is still a surgical procedure that requires a properly trained physician. Make sure your doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon and experienced with this laser technology. Also make sure this is performed in an accredited facility.

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