Sometimes body fat is resistant to diet and exercise. This can leave you feeling frustrated and looking for new options. Liposuction is a great option for individuals wishing to improve their body shape by eliminating unwanted fat tissue.
Liposuction is not a solution for weight loss or sagging skin, but it can help you slim down problem areas. Liposuction can be used to target many different areas of your body and is often combined with other procedures like tummy tucks and breast augmentation for maximum results.
6 Types of Liposuction
Some of the target areas Dr. Fan commonly addresses are:
- Love Handles
- Hips, Thighs, and Buttocks
- Chin, Neck, and Jawline
- Bra Rolls
- Calves and Ankles
There are six different types of liposuction available today, ranging from traditional liposuction to SmartLipo to high definition liposuction.
In this post, we’ll review the six different types of liposuction and help you learn which type is best for you.
Two More Quick Questions
The 6 Different Types of Liposuction Treatments
1. Suction Assisted Liposuction (SAL)
SAL is regular liposuction without any fancy bells or whistles. In the right hands, it works excellently for most patients.
2. Tumescent Liposuction
Tumescent liposuction is very similar to SAL. The only difference is that larger amounts of anesthetic fluid are used, enough to make the targeted tissues swell or become “tumescent.” Tumescent lipo also works well in the hands of a skilled surgeon.
3. Laser-Assisted Liposuction or SmartLipo
Advances in technology have produced alternative liposuction procedures. Laser assisted liposuction uses heat energy from a laser to help perform the procedure.
In theory, the laser is supposed to melt fat, coagulate blood vessels, and tighten skin. According to its manufacturer Cynosure, SmartLipo is a less invasive procedure that is safer with quicker recovery, reduced bruising, and enhanced skin tightening compared to SAL.
In reality, SmartLipo is no better, no safer, nor less invasive than suction assisted liposuction, tumescent liposuction, or other modern forms of liposuction. In fact, multiple peer-reviewed, clinical studies performed by unbiased plastic surgeons have shown no difference in outcomes or side effects between laser assisted liposuction and suction assisted liposuction.
But, wait, isn’t SmartLipo a safer procedure? No, it’s not. SmartLipo marketing claims that SmartLipo is “safer” is because it’s performed under local anesthesia. Well, it turns out that all types of liposuction can also be performed under local anesthesia, not just SmartLipo.
You may be asking yourself: Well, if SmartLipo is at least equivalent to regular lipo, and it may offer some additional benefits, shouldn’t I just choose SmartLipo anyway? Well, the answer’s not so simple. First, it’s extremely important to choose an excellent plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, most of the doctors aggressively promoting SmartLipo are less skilled cosmetic surgeons. If you’re feeling pressure to choose the laser assisted option, you may want to get a second opinion and verify the credentials of your surgeon. Second, the use of a laser adds time and complexity, with a risk of thermal injury, or buns, and with no proven benefits to show for it, it may not be worth the additional time, risk, and expense.
All this being said, laser assisted liposuction may be a good option for you if you're working with an experienced plastic surgeon.
4. Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction or Vaser
Ultrasound energy is another technology used to assist in breaking up fatty tissue. Ultrasonic liposuction is performed by making incisions and inserting a low-frequency ultrasound device attached to a cannula. The sound energy is used to emulsify the fat, after which the fat is removed with a traditional suction tube. This option is most commonly known under the brand name VASER.
Some of the manufacturer claims associated with VASER are reduced blood loss, swelling, and bruising; skin tightening; and ease of procedure for the surgeon. It is also thought to work better for removing fat in fibrous areas like the back and flanks. However, like the laser-assisted liposuction, there is no real evidence that this option produces better results than other techniques.
Ultrasound assisted liposuction requires a larger incision to accommodate the ultrasound device. This option may mean an increase in time and complexity and adds the additional risks of burning, nerve damage, and scarring.
5. Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL)
Power assisted liposuction may be a good option if you have high volumes of fat that need to be removed. This procedure is performed with the use of a special, vibrating cannula to help break up and remove fatty tissue.
The main benefit of using power assisted liposuction is quicker fat removal with less surgeon fatigue. Other than that, there is no real difference in results and recovery when performed by an expert surgeon, although it may offer some benefits in breaking up fat in particularly dense areas.
The use of additional equipment may add complexity to the procedure and increase the total cost.
6. High Definition Liposuction (HDL)
High definition liposuction (aka. “Six Pack Ab,” “Eight Pack Abs” or abdominal etching) is a specialized version of liposuction that focuses on enhancing the underlying muscular definition of the torso by performing very selective superficial liposuction and muscle enhancement with fat grafting. High definition liposuction requires additional procedure time, recovery time, expense, and expertise compared to non-HD liposuction. If you’re looking for a shredded look, high definition liposuction can be a great choice.
Don't Buy into the Lipo Hype
The liposuction landscape is littered with all sorts of marketing hype and overpromises. If you don’t believe us, just google terms like SmartLipo, liposculpture, micro lipo, tickle lipo, Air Sculpt Lipo, and the list goes on and on.
What do all of these terms mean? Not much. Each variation of liposuction has subtle differences, but they’re all basically fancy ways of saying “lipo.” Keep in mind that all modern forms of liposuction have been shown to be equally safe and effective, and no technique has been shown to be consistently more effective than the others. If you do your homework, you’ll notice that the people who make the loudest claims tend to be lesser skilled cosmetic surgeons rather than expert plastic surgeons.
So, Which Type of Liposuction is the Best?
Answer #1: It Depends: There is no single best type of liposuction, as all modern techniques are equally safe and effective
All modern forms of liposuction are generally considered equally safe and effective when performed by an expert surgeon on properly selected patients. Most often, the tumescent or suction assisted liposuction techniques are used and laser, ultrasound, power assisted, and high definition techniques are used in select instances to assist with the liposuction process. Results are often dramatic and a healthy, active lifestyle is necessary to maintain the body and keep fat off.
Answer #2: It’s the surgeon that matters, not the machine!
You should keep in mind that when it comes to liposuction, the most important factor for obtaining a good result is by far the skill of the surgeon performing the procedure. A skilled surgeon can use a variety of tools to help you achieve the results you want. Be careful of anybody promising that a laser can eliminate the need for a tummy tuck or pressuring you into choosing a fancy sounding machine or treatment.
For those who aren’t sure if a completely noninvasive fat reduction treatment like CoolSculpting or a surgical treatment such as a tummy tuck might be better for you, look into What is Body Contouring and Which Procedure Do I Need?
Dr. Larry Fan is not only qualified to perform each liposuction technique, but his office offers the latest methods and has produced thousands of satisfied patients.