Smart Lipo Vs. Liposuction on Upper Arms and Love Handles

I'm 5'2", 110 lbs, and Asian. I had Liposuction on my upper arms in 2004 and never really saw the results I was looking for. Will Smart Lipo on this area and love handles be any better, in results and downtime? I remember awful downtime before and would like to avoid it.

Doctor Answers 21

Studies show no difference for method of liposuction

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A study in Plastic in Reconstructive Surgery compared results of Smart Lipo with tumescent liposuction. Patients had one side done by Smart Lipo and the other done by conventional liposuction. There was no difference.

A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Clinical Trial Comparing Laser-Assisted Lipoplasty with Suction-Assisted Lipoplasty.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 118(4):1032-1045, September 15, 2006.
Prado, Arturo M.D.; Andrades, Patricio M.D.; Danilla, Stefan M.D.; Leniz, Patricio M.D., Ph.D.; Castillo, Paulo M.D.; Gaete, Fancy M.D.

Of course, the machine is expensive, and purchasers of the machine are hoping to acquire more patients.

Thermage can be done after liposuction for more tightening , but one fourth see no improvement with the rest seeing a mild to moderate tightening.

There is a mini arm lift that excises a small amount of skin in the axilla for further tightening.

Your skin tone looks reasonable, and although there are risks, your picture shows skin that should tighten on its own fairly well most of the time.

Both should give good results

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Smart lipo uses a laser to liquefy the fat, which is then suctioned out. Skin tightening is often the biggest issue with lipo of the upper arms. Proponents of smart lipo claim that it produces better skin tightening but this has never been proven in any published study, so either technique should be satisfactory.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Less Downtime & Better Results

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I'm sorry that you were unsatisfied with the results of your previous liposuction procedure -- I'm sure that was very frustrating. The good news is that SmartLipo is a gentler approach, which means it requires less downtime. In most cases, SmartLipo patients are able to get back to office work in a fraction of the time of their counterparts who undergo traditional liposuction. SmartLipo also has the ancillary benefit of tightening skin, thanks to its laser energy. By causing the skin to contract and collagen to regenerate, you may see improved results for your upper arms and love handles. I recommend seeking a surgeon near who is experienced with SmartLipo to learn more about the results you may expect.

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SmartLipo of love handle and upper arms

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SmartLipo is laser assisted Liposuction. Its probably better to research who is doing your procedure. Smart doctors have learned how to use technology to get the desired result. We combine both technology now. Liposuction using Smartlipo permanently destroys & removes the treated fat cells. After Smartlipo, we use micro-cannula and Power Assisted Liposuction to actually remove the fat. Adults do not create new fat cells. You should see the results immediately when the fat is removed. One of my patients recently had SmartLipo but had poor results and was burned! She said "I didn't know that my cosmetic surgeon was not a Plastic Surgeon" We had to fix her abdomen and other areas damaged by the laser. Cost should not be the only criteria for selecting your Plastic Surgeon. Experience and training matters a lot. Non Plastic surgeons (cosmetic surgeons) tend to charge less than Plastic Surgeon. Below are other criteria to use when selecting a Plastic surgeon.

Questions to ask (Answering NO is a big red flag)
1) Are you a plastic surgeon? (Do you know difference between cosmetic surgeon & plastic surgeon)
2) Are you board certified in Plastic Surgery?
3) Will the procedure be performed at a fully accredited procedure room or ambulatory surgery center
4) Do you have hospital privilege to perform liposuction or SmartLipo?
5) Do you offer complication insurance (it does happen, it better to be safe)

The most important decision is to do your homework well. Any doctor can offer SmartLipo. Its your duty to know who is doing your procedure. Its better to choose a Smart Doctor. Good luck.

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Smart lipo giving improved results in previous areas of traditional lipo

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Good and interesting question. It depends on the layer of fat that was left from the previous lipo and what is now causing the fullness. Many people think that anything remaining that is full and wiggled is always fat. But it may be looser muscle or skin. While the most important thing is the surgeon and how complete or aggressive they are choosing to be I do feel that the smart lipo laser can be more complete it emulsification of the fat before extraction and has the potential to thermally get more skin retraction. BUT!!! Be be very careful because it also has the potential to cause more problems in the wrong hands or without the proper judgement about whether the patient should or can benefit from it. It is possible that the previous surgeon took out exactly the right amount and got the correct amount of skin tightening and what is remaining should not be approached with trying to get more out or more skin retraction. One of the worst mistakes is to be too aggressive.

David Amron, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Is Smart Lipo The Best Option

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I'm sorry that you didn't get the results you wanted from your prior liposuction procedure. Smart Lipo is a gentler approach, which means less discomfort and downtime.  Have you considered a non-surgical fat reduction treatment such as CoolSculpting? From your picture, you appear to be a very good candidate for this procedure. Requiring no surgery and no downtime, CoolSculpting effectively targets stubborn fat in the upper arms and love handles. 

CoolSculpting uses cold to freeze and kill fat cells permanently, however, the temperature never gets low enough to cause damage to the skin, nerves, vessels or other tissues. An applicator is used with a cooling suction that is applied to a targeted area on the body. It is left on for approximately one hour while the patient comfortably reads, watches a movie, or takes a short nap. The results take effect over a 60-90 period. The treatment can be repeated if necessary. The best part is that you can resume your regular daily activities immediately following your procedure. 

Shamim Shakibai, MD
Los Angeles Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Smart Lipo Arms and Flanks-Redo. Bodytite and Vaser as solutions

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It appears that you have arm laxity after liposuction. This is very common with traditional liposuction since at best it contracts skin at 8%. Smart lipo might be better but at this point you're better off with Bodytite since its proven to tighten skin 40% and works very well in the arms. Published plastic literature supports this fact. (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery January 2017). Regarding the flanks the use of Vaser would probably work the best in the proper experienced plastic surgeons hands as it will break up the scar tissue.

Downtime is less

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Your skin looks reasonably tight, so while either procedure will give an acceptable result, Smartlipo is definitely less traumatic with correspondingly less downtime and an easier post-op course. I say this having done thousands of procedures of each method.

Robert W. Benson, MD
Hammond Dermatologic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Consider Radiofrequency (RF) Devices instead of Invasive Treatments

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You have options here that change over time as new technology emerges in the aesthetic space. There is no question that Smart Lipo is good for the upper arms and for the love handles — and skilled, board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons know how to use the device to give the results you want. And in the upper arms, the faster skin tightening that we know as a result of the laser makes this an attractive area to treat.New radiofrequency (RF) devices are now being used on the upper arms with good success — Venus Freeze, Pelleve, Accent or VShape, EndyMed 3Deep, Exilis, and others. Also, some have used Ultherapy here — ultrasound with good results. Consult your doctor for the best options.As for the love handles, you can use Smart Lipo — it works. You can also use any of the RF devices I mentioned above with some nice results. And you can use CoolSculpting or UltraShape — these are working very well as well.So you have options and need to discuss with the proper doctors to make the most informed choice or choices.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

The results of liposuction are more dependent on the skill of the surgeon and not the device used.

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The discomfort following surgery can be controlled well with anti-inflammatories.  Arnica helps decrease the bruising.  Based on the pictures you have sent, you would be a good candidate for a repeat attempt at liposuction.

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.