Laser liposuction (SmartLipo) vs Tumescent (“Standard Liposuction”) for skin tightening? The science says that neither truly tighten skin.
Since Dr. Illouz and Dr. Fournier first brought liposuction to the United States in 1982 – when I was beginning my residency in plastic surgery – there have been only 2 truly game-changing developments in how board certified surgeons approach/perform liposuction:
- Suction Assisted “Tumescent” Liposuction (SAL) – First introduced in 1985, the suction-assisted tumescent liposuction technique involves injecting a special ‘tumescent’ solution directly into the subcutaneous fatty layer (which builds up between the skin and muscle layers) that not only makes the entire treatment zone numb, but also acts to constrict surrounding blood vessels so that very little blood loss and trauma to the surrounding tissue, vessels and nerves occurs during the procedure. In surgery, less trauma means less post-operative swelling. Less post-op swelling means less post-op discomfort and a quicker recovery. In most of my liposuction cases, patients are back on their feet the very next day and pain free soon-there-after. The use of local anesthesia in combination with very light general (re: light complete sedation) not only provides a very comfortable experience for my patients but also enables me to be fairly aggressive and very precise while addressing multiple locations which contain large amounts of fatty tissue.
- Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) – Approved for general use by the FDA in 1998, power-assisted liposuction differs from un-powered suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) through the use of a special canula that vibrates rapidly (like an electronic tooth brush) while being moved through the fatty tissue by the surgeon. Without power, pushing and pulling the canula in the standard forwards and backwards motion through the fatty tissue requires quite a bit more effort and force. With power, the canula becomes like a hot knife through butter as it gently breaks up the fat before suctioning it out. The benefits to the PAL approach have been well documented and include less time under anesthesia, less bruising and swelling, a faster recovery and most importantly, smoother, more precise results.