Melt Fat and Tighten Skin with Laser Liposuction

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Jill Daniels, Freelance Medical Writer

Jill Daniels is a freelance health writer based in New York City. She spent several years writing for WebMD, including their Weight Loss Clinic and Fertility Center programs. Jill has also written/reported for publications including InStyle, People and Women's Own. She received a degree in journalism for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


May 30 2008

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Double chins and sagging jowls can be an unfortunate part of aging – and so can extra weight in places where you never had it before. There may now be a solution to all of these annoying issues: a type of liposuction that tightens skin as it removes fat. While it may sound too good to be true, that's what laser liposuction (also called SmartLipo) apparently can accomplish.

Laser liposuction surgery uses lasers to melt – rather than suction – fat away.

Here are a few ways laser liposuction differs from traditional liposuction surgery methods:

  • Traditional liposuction uses a tube called a cannula connected to a suction device to help rid people of unwanted fat, but excess, loose skin sometimes remains and may require additional surgery. It can be performed on a variety of areas of the body including the tummy, hips, thighs and buttocks.

Laser liposuction is best performed on small areas like the face, neck or arms.

  • Traditional liposuction involves inserting a tube (cannula) that is typically 4 to 6 millimeters in size to vacuum out pockets of fat. The tube size necessitates incisions that can require stitches.

Laser liposuction also uses a cannula, but it is much smaller, about 1 millimeter in size, ad is fitted with a laser that melts fat, helps stimulate collagen formation, and tightens the skin where the laser is used. This smaller cannula means there is less tissue trauma and scarring where the tube enters the body, and no stitches are needed.

  • Traditional liposuction has a recovery time that ranges from several days to a few weeks.

Laser liposuction has a much quicker recovery time; people can often return to work within a couple of days

  • Traditional liposuction requires the surgeon to move the tube back and forth manually, providing the opportunity for imprecision which can cause bleeding and bruising.

Laser liposuction involves a laser that glides through fat and can actually seal blood vessels as it moves, reducing bleeding, and swelling.

  • Traditional liposuction is performed using local or general anesthesia, depending on the technique used and the area being addressed

Laser liposuction is minimally invasive and a person typically only has to be mildly sedated with local anesthesia, reducing the risks associated with anesthesia

  • Traditional liposuction entails wearing compression bandages for up to 6 weeks or so following the procedure

Laser liposuction calls for compression bandages to be worn for an average of 2 weeks following the laser surgery.

Further Facts About Laser Liposuction

While laser liposuction surgery is generally used to eliminate small, localized deposits of fat, it can also be performed in conjunction with traditional liposuction to refine and tighten skin after larger areas of the body are addressed. While all surgical procedures carry some risks, reported complications with laser liposuction are very rare. There is a small risk of infection, and some people may experience minor bruising and swelling, which typically goes away within a few days.

Costs to Consider

When it comes to price, laser liposuction may be easier on your wallet because an anesthesiologist is not needed for the laser surgery. However, it's important to keep in mind that the expense will depend on the number of sites being treated. Treating a neck may run you $2,000 to $3,000. However, because laser liposuction can not treat large areas, a single treatment using traditional liposuction may still wind up being a more cost-effective option. Both types of  liposuction procedures produce results after one session.