In an earlier article I talked about some liposuction alternatives that are available for fat removal. As you may now know, tumescent liposuction is the most frequently performed today, but there are also other, newer liposuction procedures and also alternatives to liposuction – other methods for the removal of excess fat. In this article, I will talk about some of the newer liposuction procedures and some of the liposuction alternatives.
What are some of the newer alternative to liposuction innovations in the field?
Laser-assisted liposuction can also be classed as one of the liposuction alternatives, and like external ultrasound-assisted liposuction, uses noninvasive energy to make the fat looser and somewhat liquid so it’s easier to extract. The term doesn’t mean that a laser beam is cutting through the skin or entering the fat via a cannula; it means that there is a diode laser with light energy that passes through the skin and heats the tissues below, without damaging the skin. Afterward, tumescent liposuction can be performed, removing the liquefied fat.
This liposuction alternatives procedure is still investigational, and we don’t have long-term results to show whether or not it improves results. The procedure is done with a machine called the Erchonia™ laser. This procedure is similar to externally applied ultrasound, but there is no contact with the skin when using the laser. With ultrasound, the hand piece must contact the skin, creating the risk of a bum if the equipment is left in place and not moved around.
How is the laser treatment performed?
The treatment lasts for 10 minutes or more and is done prior to liposuction. The laser is held four to six inches away from the body, so it doesn’t even touch the skin. The fat becomes emulsified and comes out in a kind of thick, yellowish form, which seems easier for the surgeon to take out. In one study, some patients healed more rapidly and had quicker drainage and less swelling. The study concluded that laser treatment might be a better liposuction alternative than external ultrasound to loosen up the fat before doing tumescent liposuction.
Could this procedure that liquefies fat using laser-assisted liposuction be dangerous?
We don’t know. A question arises: Can the external laser liquefy fat sufficiently to allow the body to metabolize it without doing the aspiration? There have been no conclusive studies that show that this procedure works.
There is also a medical risk of possible complications when you increase the amount of free fat in the body. For instance, the triglycerides might be taken up by the blood-stream, and if someone has a high content of fat in their blood, they could be at risk for developing some serious conditions, such as pancreatitis. Or the fat could cause blockages that result in a stroke or heart attack. At this point, it’s not known.
Do the liposuction alternatives like external ultrasound-assisted liposuction also liquefy fat?
Yes. There are companies that are working on more intensive energy ultrasound as liposuction alternatives to see if the results can be improved.