Liposuction Alternatives

Have no interest in undergoing full liposuction surgery procedure. The cost, pain, recovery etc are not appealing. i read about lots of lipo alternatives that dont require so much of investment in money and risk. Can someone explain these, pros/cons.

Doctor Answers 71

Liposuction Alternatives

There are basically two alternatives to traditional tumescent liposuction.

1. Invasive "Adjuncts" to Liposuction.

2. Non-invasive Body Contouring Devices.

With any of the invasive "adjuncts", the surgeon must still perform true liposuction to get results. These include laser assisted liposuction (Smart Lipo, Cool Lipo), Power assisted liposuction, and Ultrasound assisted liposuction. These methods use cannulas that produce heat, vibration, or ultrasound waves to help break up the fatty tissue and make liposuction potentially easier for the surgeon.

There is still very little evidence that any of the invasive liposuction "adjuncts" improve results greatly over traditional tumescent liposuction. They can increase cost, and risk. Of these options, I favor Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction (VASER liposelection).  

MOST IMPORTANT: the quality and experience of the surgeon

2. Non-invasive Body Contouring Devices.

These are devices that use heat, cold, or ultrasound from the outside of the skin to try and shrink fat. (Thermage, Cool Sculpting, Liposonix). These are best for patients with less fat to remove - as they can not take off large volumes.

My favorite non-invasive body contouring device is ultrasound (Liposonix). It is a device that sends high frequency ultrasound waves beneath the surface of the skin focused at a depth of 1.3cm. It completely bypassed the surface of the skin. Studies show that it can remove an inch from your waistline or hips. Not bad for a non-invasive procedure.



Seattle Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

11011 Meridian Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98133

There's a lot of hype about nonsurgical liposuction

Traditional means tumescent liposuction. That involves placing fluid into the fat cell layer. This fluid contains a local anesthetic as well as agents to shrink blood vessels. The fluid is put in is then removed together with fat using hollow cannulas.

In order to improve the results there have been several other surgical innovations including laser assisted liposuction and ultrasonic assisted liposuction. Both procedures generate heat that breaks apart the fat cells allowing them to be removed less traumatically. They both also cause a slight shrinkage of the overlying skin due to collagen stimulation.

There are some other noninvasive techniques which are not as effective. These include Mesotherapy, which is the injection of a chemical into the fat cell layer. This chemical disrupts the fat cells which are then absorbed. In patients that I've seen who've had the procedure, it ends up being more costly, less effective, and more painful than traditional liposuction. In addition it takes months to see the same results that one would see two weeks after traditional liposuction.

Other nonsurgical techniques include external laser light, external laser ultrasound, and external cryotherapy (using cold plates on the skin) . None of these are near as effective as traditional liposuction and in my opinion, are a waste of money unless you're talking about a small area such as beneath the chin.

Joseph M. Perlman, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

6319 Cypresswood Drive
Spring, TX 77379

Liposuction Alternatives

Since all competent surgeons already use tumescent liposuction - please equate the mention of liposuction with tumescent liposuction.

Let's address the 800 pound gorilla in the room - Despite everything you read and hear, the painful cold truth, that would save you a lot of money and recurrent disappointment, is that there are currently NO methods / no techniques / no procedures and no treatments whose RESULTS ARE CLOSE OR MUCH LESS EQUIVALENT to those of L.

Think about it. For the most part, Plastic surgeons are a very smart and extremely competitive group of people who ALWAYS look for change and innovation. If there were indeed such easy magical alternatives to liposuction, why wouldn't they be using them instead? Easy. While the hype is there, the results are just not there.

Having personally looked at every mode of tumescent liposuction on the market, I feel that either "standard" (small tube) liposuction is being edged out by either VASER Lipo selection (UAL) liposuction or Power Assisted (tumescent) Liposuction. All scientific studies to date, have as yet to show ANY benefit of laser liposuction (SmartLipo etc) over these methods.

Techniques such as Endermologie have been disappointing. Mesotherapy and other fat dissolving injections have been unreliable, disappointing and fraught with complications. External fat dissolving devices such as UltraShape (ultrasound) or Zeltiq (cold pinch done in stages) are far from proven at best.

If you have a ZILCH interest in lipo prepare yourself for several expensive, hopefully complication free Zilch results with other methods.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

6401 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38119

Don't waste your money

Liposuction is designed to remove fat from very focal areas. It's an excellent technique and in the right hands is very successful. But because of marketing people that pray on peoples fears other techniques of fat removal have been developed.

Other alternative to traditional liposuction include the laser lipos such as cool lipo and smart lipo. Again in this country the fat must be infiltrated and sucked out. In my opinion not an acceptable alternative to traditional lipo.

Lipodissolve is a method in which a solution is injected into the fat and the fat cells rupture. The fat is then removed by the bodies inflammatory system. The problem with this is that the solution is not regulated by the FDA and it can contain up to 30 different chemicals. Do you want to take that kind of chance?

Finally the one alternative that plastic surgeons don't want to say and patients don't want to hear-lose weight. Enough said on that.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

3930 Pender Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Liposuction Alternatives

If you have pockets of fat that do not change with diet and exercise, liposuciton is your best option. In my opinion these "alternative" measures which promise no down time and no pain are ltiile more that a great marketing ploy. If you want real results, liposuciton is the best option.

Christine Sullivan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

7706 Olentangy River Rd
Columbus, OH 43235

Laser Liposuction is Still Liposuction

Many patients are confused about the term "Laser Liposuction" or "Laser-assisted Liposuction". It should be understood that these procedures are not really liposuction alternatives- they are liposuction. The laser is used to help melt the fat prior to performing a traditional-type liposuction procedure. It does make the fat removal easier and more consistent. There are claims that the laser helps to tighten skin, and this may be true but is unproven thus far.

Patients come to my office asking for laser liposuction with the notion that it is a non-invasive procedure. This is a misconception. I frequently perform laser-assisted liposuction with the 1320 nm laser (CoolLipo) but I clearly explain that this is simply an improvement to traditional tumescent liposuction surgery, not an alternative.With an experienced physician, laser-assisted liposuction produces excellent results and may in fact lead to easier recovery.

Brett S. Kotlus, MD, MS
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

135 E. 71st Street
New York, NY 10021

The new Ultrashape treatments are completely...

The new Ultrashape treatments are completely non-invasive, do not require incisions, surgery or anesthesia and have no pain or downtime associated with them. Ultrashape is meant to treat problem areas like the lower belly or thighs and is not meant to replace large volume liposuction or to be used as a weight loss tool.

Ultrashape is pending FDA approval and therefore is not yet available in the USA. It does have Health Canada approval and is available in Canada as well as Mexico and many places in Europe.

Kim Meathrel, MD
Ontario Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

1324 Princess Street
Kingston, Ontario K7M 3E2

Body contouring has changed dramatically in the last 20...

Body contouring has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and procedures are now not only more effective but also much safer. In addition, more and more patients are seeking procedures which will help them achieve their ideal body contour but with minimal downtime.

Liposuction itself has evolved from the use of large-bore cannulas connected to a vacuum source to the current use of lasers and VASER’s.

While the VASER is simply a refinement of earlier Ultrasonic liposuction, it represents a huge step forward in that it safely and effectively melts fat and reshapes contour with less downtime and more control than conventional liposuction.

Instead of relying on mechanical disruption to break up and remove fat cells, fat is emulsified using small, thin solid cannulas and then gently extracted. The result is not only more effective contouring but also smoother, more comfortable healing period.

Another recent breakthrough is SmartLipo. This procedure is performed by threading a very thin laser cannula beneath the skin to melt fat. The result is less traumatic than conventional contouring and is also often associated with a much smoother recovery.

  • For patients requiring more comprehensive contouring, LipoSelection is probably a better choice.
  • SmartLipo is an excellent way to address small collections of fat or touchup previously treated areas without a trip to the OR.

As with all elective procedures, research the background, training, and experience of whomever you plan to have perform any of these treatments.

Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS
Denver Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

125 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, CO 80112

Alternatives to Liposuction

There are no non-surgical liposuction alternatives that will give you the results that tumescent ("traditional") liposuction will. There are, however, innovations with liposuction which make the surgery easier to recover from. There are laser- and ultrasound-assisted forms of liposuction which disrupt the fat cells essentially with heat but in doing so may increase the complication rate.

I believe that there is no comparison between "non-surgical" alternatives such as using ultrasound, external lasers (Zerona), or "cool sculpting", roller/suction devises (Endermologie) etc. with the real thing.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

3991 MacArthur Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Cheaper "alternatives" to liposuction are either worthless or dangerous.

There are alternatives to liposuction.  Endermologie kneads the skin and fat.  It hurts a little and doesn't work.  Lipodissolve will reduce fat in a region but it is painful, dangerous, and a very poor alternative to liposuction.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

365 East Paces Ferry Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.