Varying Techniques for Surgical Removal of Fat
Liposuction is a surgical procedure in which fat deposits are removed from the body using a tube-like instrument called a cannula, which is connected to a vacuum source. Unwanted fat is suctioned from specific parts of the body, for example, the abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, or back. Although Liposuction does remove fat from the body, the surgery is considered a body contouring procedure, not a weight loss solution. Liposuction was introduced into the United States in the early 1980’s. Over the past thirty years, the technology and safety has improved steadily.
Today, there are different types of liposuction being performed. What they all have in common is that fat is being removed to optimize one’s appearance. Without question the most important part of liposuction procedure is your choice of the surgeon…not the device. The experience, wisdom, skills, and talents of your surgeon are essential to all successful outcomes. This is the first place to start, by seeing a board certified plastic surgeon that excels in liposuction body contouring.
There are four categories of liposuction fat extraction:
• Standard Liposuction
• Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction
• Power Assisted Liposuction
• Laser Assisted Liposuction
This technique is still used today. Basically it is a two-step process whereby anesthetic fluid is infiltrated into the operative site by using long, small gauged, blunt needles. This is followed by the extraction phase of the fat using a suction cannula. The surgeon supplies the energy to pass the suction cannula back and forth to aspirate and remove the fat, sculpting the anatomic areas.
Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction
This technique was first introduced in the mid 1990’s and is a form of liposuction that uses ultrasonic energy to assist in breaking the fat cells apart, allowing for easier extraction via the suction cannulas.
VASER® LipoSelection is a type of ultrasonic assisted liposuction. The technology has evolved over the years and now we have the 3rd generation devices, which are superior and safer over the older models. Low level ultrasonic energy is pulsed to gently break apart the fat cells with minimal collateral damage to other nearby tissue. The ultrasonic energy is transmitted to the fat cells by small probes (between two and three millimeters). The fat cells are “shaken” apart and mixed with the anesthetic fluid into an emulsion, which is easily removed by the suction cannulas. This VASER® is favorable among some plastic surgeons because it requires less forceful energy by the surgeon to remove the fat, which translates into less post-operative pain for the patient.
Two important points need to be emphasized: LipoSelection is a marketing term that describes the process of using a VASER® ultrasonic assisted liposuction device for body contouring. And, second, the VASER® is not a laser and should not be confused with one.
Power Assisted Liposuction
Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL) is a hand held device that mechanically drives the suction cannula, allowing it to reciprocate back and forth into the fat breaking it apart
Laser Assisted Liposuction
The new evolution of laser assisted devices has drawn a lot of attention due to the fact that there are at least four companies actively competing for market share in the United States utilizing this technology. Relatively small caliber optical fibers encased inside a small cannula are used to transmit laser light. Each company is using a different wavelength of laser light to generate thermal energy, but what they all have in common is the laser light is used to melt the fat. The heat that is generated by the laser is claimed to further tighten the skin, and prevent bleeding by coagulating the blood vessels. The biggest complaint among patients and plastic surgeons and other doctors using this technology is the very minimal degree of volume reduction of fat. The growing trend is to employ laser assisted liposuction to treat the skin, and then use another form of liposuction, such as the VASER® for volume reduction.