How to Choose the Best Laser Liposuction Technique


There is a great deal of interest in the new laser liposuction technique. Many feel that laser liposuction is revolutionizing the way liposuction is done. The new laser liposuction technology melts fat into a liquid which makes removal of the fat easier.

Melting of the fat also allows a more uniform removal of fat which has so far, in my Boston area practice, resulted in smoother skin without the lumps, bumps and contour deformities which occur in as many as 20% of "old time" suction assisted lipectomy methods.

In addition, the heat generated during the laser liposuction procedure also tightens skin which helps avoid another problem of the older techniques, loose skin after fat removal.

There are very significant differences between the major laser liposuction machines in use today. Because of patent restrictions, many companies have had to use wavelengths that are not the most specific for fat removal. In the article below I will first try to explain the procedure. Then I will describe the technologies used in the most popular machines. Hopefully this information will help you choose the best technique for your procedure if you choose to undergo this new operation.

How Does Laser Liposuction Work?

Older standard suction assisted lipectomy techniques removed fat by inserting a metal tube called a cannula beneath the skin to remove fat by aspiration with high powered suction.

The fat cells are actually ruptured and sucked out from beneath the skin. Other supporting tissues beneath the skin are also removed. This procedure is quite traumatic and can produce bruising and swelling and post operative pain which can lead to a prolonged recovery.

Results for fat removal are excellent, however lack of uniformity of skin appearance and loose skin after the procedure have been reported in as many as 20 % of patients.

The new laser liposuction technique first involves the placement of a tiny laser fiber beneath the skin to melt or liquefy the fat before removal.

This allows for a much less traumatic fat removal because much smaller aspiration cannulas can be used and there is less tissue trauma and injury to the non fatty tissues. After the laser fat melting process a small cannula about half the size of the older cannulas is used to remove the liquefied fat.

In addition, the heat generated by the laser causes the skin to tighten, and results in my Boston area patients have shown improved skin tightening following laser liposuction.

In addition to liquefaction or melting of fat, many more fat cells are injured, but not removed, by the laser. much of the fat is reabsorbed by the tissues, so that the actual volume of suctioned fat is typically less using this new technology. Small areas may be treated without suction.

SlimLipo Machine

SlimLipo laser liposuction uses a patented 924nm laser wavelength to melt fat. The 924nm laser is the most specifically and highly absorbed laser wavelength by fat tissue. The 924nm laser melts 3-5 times as much volume of fat as the other wavelengths in use today. The SlimLipo uses a 924nm/975nm blended wavelength for skin tightening effect.

SmartLipo MPX Machine

SmartLipo was the first machine on the market. The original SmartLipo used a 1064nm wavelength to melt fat. The target of the 1064nm is water, thus the SmartLipo melted fat by heating the water in the fat and the fat is melted secondarily.

Recently, SmartLipo MPX has been introduced, which uses a combination 1064nm and a 1320nm laser to improve fat melting. In the resource box below you can link to a video which shows a comparison of the fat melting power of the SlimLipo vs. the SmartLipo. MPX technology.

Cool Lipo Machine

Cool Lipo uses a 1320nm laser wavelength to dissolve fat. Although the 1320nm wavelength has better fat absorption than the 1064nm wavelength, water is still the primary target of the 1320nm. Thus the fat melting mechanism is the same for the 1320nm as with the 1064nm used in SmartLipo.

Lipotherme Machine

Lipotherme is a new entry in this field and uses a 980nm wavelength for fat melting. Again the primary target of the 980nm wavelength is water, so again this new technology melts fat by first heating water rather than by fat absorption of the wavelength.

Why is Wavelength So Important?

The importance of using the appropriate wavelength to melt fat is that the greater the absorption by the fat of the laser energy, the easier and more complete the fat melting process. This is graphically demonstrated in the video link at the end of this article.

Not only is the 924nm wavelength used in SlimLipo capable of liquefying 3-5 times as much fat per unit of energy as the other technologies, but the fat melting mechanism is entirely different. The 924nm is completely absorbed by fat and a much larger area of fat is dissolved. The other lasers which use water targeted wavelengths have to heat water to boiling and the water the heats ad destroys the fat. This water heating process is slower, less efficient and as can be seen in video is essentially chipping away at fat.

The heat generated by the water absorbed lasers is also a concern, in my opinion, as the higher temperatures generated by the water heating lasers may be more prone to cause heat injury or burning.

Who Should Do Your Procedure?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure no matter what the internet marketing campaigns imply. My opinion is that I personally would only want a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon performing this procedure on me or one of my loved ones.

Be very careful and study the credentials of your doctor. There are many doctors today who advertise themselves as Cosmetic Surgeons who have never had one day of surgical training. Check the credentials of your doctor by visiting the website of the American board of plastic Surgery.

There are many Board Certified Dermatologists who do this procedure and I am sure some are very good. However when you have surgery of any kind, it is essential that your doctor has had the appropriate surgical training to take care of you if something goes wrong.

Do your homework. Caveat emptor.

Article by
Boston Plastic Surgeon