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Evaluating the Skin Tightening Effects of Laser Liposuction

It can be challenging for surgeons to decide which body contouring approach to take with patients, especially when there are so many different types of liposuction available today. In the patient with mild skin laxity, however, laser liposuction stands out as the superior choice.

Why Laser Lipo

Laser liposuction represents a very modern body sculpting technology. Building on the premises established with tumescent (traditional) lipo, isolated deposits of adipose tissue are targeted, separated and then aspirated for permanent elimination. This process reveals slimmer, smoother lines and more well-defined muscle tone, especially in fibrous treatment locations such as the back or male chest.

In order to effectively remove the fatty tissue via suction, the individual cells must be effectively broken apart from each other and loosened from internal connective tissues. Liposuction methods differ primarily in the methodology that is used to accomplish this goal.

  • In tumescent lipo, the tissue is saturated with a saline solution that also contains lidocaine and epinephrine. The lidocaine provides local anesthesia that allows for surgery to be conducted under lighter general anesthesia, or while keeping the patient awake and sedated. The epinephrine constricts local blood vessels to limit the absorption of lidocaine as well as control bleeding.
  • Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction also begins with the injection of tumescent fluid; however, fat cells are then emulsified using tissue-selective sound waves. UAL is ideal for use in highly fibrous areas where fat cells are harder to reach with traditional methods. Like tumescent lipo, the cells are removed via suction following their liquidation.
  • Laser liposuction harnesses concentrated light energy to rupture cell walls, and may or may not use tumescent solution beforehand depending on the application. Like UAL, laser lipo is effective in tougher, more fibrous areas; laser liposuction is also commonly used in more delicate locations like the face and neck due because it offers a superior level of refined control. During treatment, the adjunctive blood vessels coagulate, which minimizes intraoperative bleeding. At the same time, collagen production is stimulated, which causes the skin’s surface to tighten.

Objective Results

For every surgeon who swears by laser liposuction, there is another who insists that the claims of greater precision and skin tightening are just hype, and the results are not superior in any way to those that can be achieved through traditional lipo. However, recent research supports the advantages touted by laser liposuction proponents.

The ability of laser-assisted liposuction to remove fatty tissue safely and effectively is not in question; only its potential skin-tightening benefits are debated. An objective laser liposuction study conducted in 2010 looked at subjects with mild to moderate skin laxity who underwent laser lipo. Tiny tattoos for measurement reference were made on the subjects’ abdomens, and each patient was randomly chosen to receive either laser or tumescent lipo. Before and after surgery, the overall skin surface area was calculated, and the two figures were later compared in order to determine whether skin shrinkage actually occurred. The results indicated that laser-treated areas showed significantly higher levels of skin shrinkage after three months compared to those that were treated with tumescent lipo.

Previously, men and women with mild skin laxity were not considered the best candidates for liposuction, due to concerns over a potential increase in visible sagging after removal of the supportive adipose tissue. Laser lipo not only offers a solution for those specific patients, but also gives surgeons greater control over the lipoplasty process for precise, elegant results even in typically challenging treatment areas.

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January 7, 2014
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