Surgical and non-surgical fat removal
Liposuction has been the tried and true method for fat removal since
it was first introduced in the early 1970's. Troublesome fat
deposits, such as the hips, thighs, and abdomen, are treated by
completely removing the fat cells via negative pressure through a
hollow metal tube. It's sort of like sucking up a milkshake through
a straw. Once those fat cells are removed, they are gone forever.
Unless the patient gains a large amount of weight, new fat cells
should not develop in the treated area.
Liposuction has undergone improvements over the years including the
use of the Microaire reciprocating cannulas which move backwards and
forwards to help shear off the fat cells. Internal ultrasound was
also used with some success, however, there is a greater risk of
damage to surrounding non-fat tissues (skin, muscle). Newer
technologies employ the use of lasers (SmartLipo, SlimLipo) to melt
fat cells, essentially turning them into fat soup which is easier to
remove. In addition, lasers can help tighten up skin by heating the
under surface of the skin causing the elastic fibers in the skin to
For years, doctors have been trying to develop a non-invasive way to
get rid of fat. Treatment modalities such as Endermologie,
VelaShape, external ultrasound, and now CoolSculpting have been
developed to help minimize fat pockets. The problem faced was how to
destroy fat cells without damaging surrounding skin and muscle cells
as well. Also, since the fat cells are not physically removed with
CoolSculpting or other modalities, fat can re-grow in these areas.
The advantage of liposuction is that it usually requires only a single procedure and recovery period. Liposuction may also be combined with other surgical procedures. The results are more immediate and predictable. Research has shown that selective freezing of fat cells may only result in a 20-25% reduction in volume so, while there is no real recovery period for CoolSculpting, it does require multiple one-hour sessions to treat the involved areas. This amounts to a lot of time and expense devoted to a non-surgical approach with limited predictability.