Smartlipo, also known as laser lipo, is a relatively new technology which has become popular in recent years.
For clarification, different companies can make the laser machine used for this procedure. However, since Cynosure (trademarked under the name Smartlipo) was the first company to gain most of the market share, the name has stuck with this procedure.
How is Smartlipo different than traditional liposuction? Well, both procedures can be done under local or general anesthesia. Both procedures require small stab incisions close to the area to be liposuctioned for access. Both procedures use tumescent solution (a solution containing a numbing medication and epinephrine, for minimizing bleeding) to “blow up” the area prior to liposuction. The difference is the next step. In Smartlipo, a tiny laser fiber (typically 1mm in diameter) is inserted in the area containing the tumescent solution, and the laser is moved back and forth. The laser generates heat, and will cause some coagulation of the tiny blood vessels. This may result in less swelling and bruising compared to traditional liposuction. The main concept behind using the laser, however, is that heat causes contraction and, therefore, may lead to better skin shrinkage after liposuction. However, to my knowledge, no one has published a randomized, prospective, blinded study showing the final result is better than traditional liposuction. Also, due to multiple variables, such as patient age, amount of fat, skin quality, etc. it is virtually impossible to design a protocol for the amount of laser energy required to give each patient the best result.
At the end, however, the fat needs to be suctioned out by the surgeon. Therefore, with ALL liposuction techniques available today, and in the future, the limiting factor is the quality of the surgeon performing the procedure. An example I frequently use is if I give any one a $7000 top of the line digital camera and a $2000 professional lens, would giving this equipment to someone suddenly make them a photographer? I think you know the answer!
Michael A. Jazayeri, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 12 years of experience. His office is located in Orange County, California. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call (714) 834-0101.
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