“Lipo” is a medical term that means “fat,” so “liposuction' refers to a procedure that uses suction to remove fat. First, local anesthetic is applied to the treatment area. A small incision (about half an inch long) is then made in the skin overlying the treatment area. A tube is inserted and connected to a vacuum pump that removes the desired amount of fat. Finally, manually redistributing the remaining fat is critical to obtaining a pleasing result. These days, most liposuction is “laser-assisted,” which means that before suction is applied, a laser probe is inserted through the incision to heat and melt the fat.
A liposuction procedure lasts several hours, depending on the amount of fat being removed. Additional time is needed in the clinic for preparation and recovery as well.
Liposuction can remove up to 50 – 80% of the fat in an area of fat accumulation, depending on the client's wishes.
After liposuction, most clients can return to work after a few days and resume normal activity after a recovery period of two weeks. During this recovery period there is usually discomfort and bruising which can last up to four days after the surgery. However, it takes four to six weeks for the majority of the swelling to resolve, and up to nine months for it to completely heal. Optimal cosmetic results are seen after 12 weeks, just as with Sculpsure.
The most common risk of liposuction is lumping and pitting of the skin if the remaining fat is not distributed evenly. As with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection, which is minimized in the hands of an experienced physician. Finally, some clients may object to having a surgical scar, although most do not find a liposuction scar to be overly unsightly.
Most Althea clients are familiar with Sculpsure. Sculpsure is a non-invasive laser-based body shaping or body contouring procedure that is designed to reduce areas of fat accumulation just beneath the surface of the skin.
During a Sculpsure treatment, laser devices are placed on the skin, The lasers generate heat that penetrates the skin and kills some of the fat cells beneath the skin. The dead fat cells are then removed naturally by the body over a period of a few weeks. Clients will feel waves of heat from the device that may cause some discomfort. However, the device includes a cooling function that keeps the skin cool during treatment and prevents the body from overheating.
A Sculpsure session lasts for 25 minutes and on average kills 24% of the fat cells in the treatment area. Most clients can resume their daily activities immediately after a Sculpsure session. Results start to become noticeable after 2 -3 weeks, and optimal results develop after 12 weeks. Because Sculpsure is not invasive, the possible side effects are relatively mild and include temporary discomfort, redness, swelling, and itching.
Liposuction is the preferred procedure if a client wishes to remove a large volume of fat in a single session, and does not object to the lengthy procedure, lengthy recovery period, anesthesia, incision scar, and the chance of having an uneven appearance.
Sculpsure is for those who only need to remove a small volume of fat, and for those who opt for a safer, more gradual approach. Some people just don't like the idea of surgery.
For removing the same moderate volume of fat, on average, Sculpsure will be less expensive than liposuction. This is because Sculpsure is faster, more automated, and requires less manual intervention and less technical expertise. However, for removing a large volume of fat, liposuction may actually be more economical than performing multiple Sculpsure sessions.
Liposuction has been in use for many years and overall is a safe, stable, and effective technology. Sculpsure itself is relatively new, but already seems to be becoming a mainstay of cosmetic body treatment. Sculpsure and similar technologies will no doubt be further refined over the next few years. However, the trend over the last 5 – 10 years has certainly been in the direction of greater use of non-invasive, energy-based procedures. It is becoming easier and more routine that ever for everyone to look great.
This post has laid out some of the factors to be considered in deciding between fat reduction technologies. Consult with a physician who performs liposuction and with your favorite medical spa to discuss your individual situation.