There are four main types of liposuction, but experts agree that no particular device is superior or less invasive than any of the others. They are all based on traditional tumescent liposuction, and the only difference is the actual tool that the surgeon uses for removing the fat from the body. In fact, studies indicate that the main factor that influences the result of your liposuction is your surgeon’s skill and experience, not the brand of liposuction machine or type of device used.
Think of it this way: When Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, no one was concerned about the size or type of brush he used. The same is true of liposuction. Similarly, if someone without skill tries to drive a racecar, he won’t be able to drive it properly. An expert driver, however, will be able to drive any type of car well. So, the type of tool your surgeon uses is more a matter of his or her own preference but will have no bearing on the outcome of your liposuction.
In all cases, liposuction requires a small incision and the use of a tube called a cannula to remove the fat from the body. Liposuction cost does not vary between the types, and the recovery time and experience is also the same with all of these techniques.
That said, you will certainly want to know which technique your surgeon plans to use and why. Below are the four main types:
When the word “tumescent” is used, it does not refer to the liposuction technique itself. It refers to the fluids that are injected into the body after the incision is made. These fluids include numbing medications and blood vessel-constricting medications that increase patient comfort and minimize blood loss.
Tumescent liposuction is now the industry standard. There is no reason to perform the surgery without these fluids. After they have been injected, a metal cannula is used to remove the fat, much like an artist uses a painbrush moving back and forth.
All of the other techniques below are variations of the tumescent technique, in that the same fluids are injected through the incision before the specific device is used to suction fat.
This type of liposuction, sometimes called PAL for short, uses an electric motor to assist the surgeon in moving the cannula in and out during the surgery. It is particularly useful for areas of fat that are hard to break up or for secondary liposuction.
Sometimes called UAL for short, this technique uses ultrasound technology to emulsify the fat before it is removed using the cannula. Although there have been some reports that ultrasound may cause heat and burn energy, this is a very safe device in experienced hands.
Laser Liposuction (including SmartLipo and SlimLipo)
Laser liposuction is also sometimes called laser-assisted lipoplasty (LAL), including some liposuction machine brands such as SmartLipo and SlimLipo. In this case, a laser device is used to liquefy the fat before it is removed with the cannula. It is often said that this technique is less invasive, but in fact, it involves the same steps as all other liposuction techniques, plus the addition of the laser device.
While a laser device is used, laser lipo is still a surgical procedure that requires an incision and a small cannula to be inserted for fat removal. Like the other systems, laser liposuction is quite effective in experienced hands.
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