What is the difference between Smart Lipo, VASER liposuction, and liposuction?

Are there reasons patients give or a doctor would suggest why one of those procedures are better than the other?

Doctor Answers 9


All liposuction machines can give similar results, and some have lower risks than others. Best to find a good surgeon not worry about the technology so much.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews


The difference is in the machine used not the result, which is more important. Different surgeons can obtain similar results even though they use different modalities. Your focus needs to be more on the surgeon. Paying extra just because the surgeon uses one of these machines is therefore not wise. If a surgeon tells you his results are better just because he uses smart or vaser etc. he/she is not being truthful.

I hope you realize that this format of posting questions and receiving answers lacks the face to face direct communication required for you to make an informed decision regarding your surgery.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship in order to know if this assessment is valid.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

What is the difference between Smart Lipo, VASER liposuction, and liposuction?

The differences relate to the type of energy source used to remove the fat. Slim lipo uses laser energy, Vaser uses ultrasound energy and traditional vacuum assisted lipo uses the surgeons muscles and vacuum pressure to remove the fat. 

All forms of liposuction can produce good results with minimal complications when performed by an experienced surgeon. All can produce serious complications when performed by inexperienced surgeons. 

Despite marketing claims by each manufacturer, there has never been a well done scientific study that shows that one technique produces better results or quicker recovery than any other technique. 

I would recommend that you spend more time picking your surgeon than worrying about what type of liposuction that the surgeon uses.

Don W. Griffin, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 72 reviews


Thank you for your question. Vaser lipo utilizes ultrasonic assisted liposuction. I was one of the pioneers utilizing this type of liposuction. I've lectured nationally and internationally on the subject. Advantages of this type of liposuction over traditional liposuction include 1) smoother result 2) more fat removed and 3) significantly less blood loss. Smart lipo involves the use of a laser to remove fat. I've been told by surgeons who utilize this method that the fat is not melted (like when performing vaser lipo). In addition I am told that there is more bleeding with smart lipo then with vaser lipo. Because the diameter of the laser is smaller then the vaser lipo, it takes longer to perform and does not get as smooth as a result as vaser. I hope you find this helpful and for more information please see the enclosed video. 

Joshua Halpern, MD, PA
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Different lipo treatments


Smart Lipo is laser based lipo where a small laser fiber is inserted into the treatment area and liposuction may or may not follow. This is typically done awake under local. Results tend to be conservative. There have been some very bad outcomes with this procedure when done in the wrong hands. (Make sure you see a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic - not Cosmetic - Surgery)

Vaser lipo is ultrasound based lipo. Ultrasound energy is applied to the treatment area, which is then treated with standard liposuction - the fat melted by ultrasound is aspirated out of the body. This technique is typically done under full anesthesia and has remarkable results. Very good for thick fibrous areas.

Regular lipo has no associated energy and can be performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. This is "old school" lipo and typically has excellent results. I use this when I am harvesting fat to transfer to the face, breasts and/or buttocks. 

Hope this helps!

Michele A. Shermak, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Different forms of liposuction

Thank you for your question. Vaser is a type of liposuction which uses ultrasonic vibration to assist with your liposuction surgery. Smartlipo uses laser energy to assist with the surgery. I use utilize both depending on where in the body I am working. They both help enhance the results of lipo in my opinion. Once you have treated the fat with the energy to loosen it up you now easily suction it out the liquified fat. 

John Mancoll, MD
Virginia Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Options in body contouring

There are many options in body contouring and each have advantages depending on your goals, anatomy,  and lifestyle.  Please see a board certified plastic surgeon to determine what is best for you

Patricia A. McGuire, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Different types of liposuction

First of all, all liposuction involves sucking out the fat. The techniques differ in what is done to the fat before, during or after the suctioning of the fat.

Smart lipo uses a laser both to heat up the under-surface of the skin and to actually destroy fat cells. The VASER uses ultrasound to break up the fat and it also generates some heat during the process. Traditional liposuction physically breaks up the fat and suctions it out at the same time. There is also SAFE lipo that breaks up the fat, then suctions out the fat then breaks up the fat to smooth things out but does not suction out the fat. There has also been water assisted lipo that breaks up the fat with a pulsating stream of water while suctioning out the fat and radio frequency liposuction that heats up the skin with radio frequency energy while suctioning out the fat. There is also power assisted liposuction that uses a cannula(tube) that vibrates while liposuctioning. This helps the surgeon more than the patient.

All may or may not have certain small advantages. But liposuction results are most dependent on the experience of the plastic surgeon in patient selection and what technique (s)he is most familiar with.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Liposuction - please explain the machines.

Thank you for asking about your liposuction and the various machines in use.

  • Traditional liposuction - uses a cannula (tube) and the movement of the surgeon's arm to disrupt fat and suction it out.
  • Pulsatile assisted liposuction - uses a vibrating cannula guided by the surgeon's arm to disrupt the fat and suction it out. This is the safest and most common machine used by plastic surgeons.
  • Smart Lipo - a two step liposuction in which a laser heated cannula is passed under the skin to 'melt' the fat and 'shrink' the skin. Then traditional liposuction suctions out the fat. The heat can damage nerves, burn the skin and it does not improve results. It was marketed to non-surgeons but it less common now.
  • Vaser lipo - uses ultrasonic waves to 'melt' the fat and 'shrink' the skin. Then traditional liposuction removes the fat. Same problems as Smart Lipo but it seems overall safer. 
  • However - your liposuction result depends entirely on your surgeon.
  • A good plastic surgeon can get a good result with any of these machines.
  • The machines will not enable a poor surgeon or doctor get a good result and they can be dangerous in these doctors' hands.
  • So choose your plastic surgeon - not the machine.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

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.