SmartLipo: Laser-Assisted Liposuction

Even though liposuction is now one of the most common cosmetic surgical procedures performed in North America, it nonetheless carries certain risks.

The larger cannulas associated with traditional techniques can sometimes cause ecchymosis (discolouration of the skin), visceral perforations (puncture wounds in the organs), and skin laxity, resulting in long recovery times.

That’s where laser-assisted liposuction comes in.

SmartLipo: Laser-Assisted Liposuction

What is Laser-Assisted Liposuction / SmartLipo?

Laser-assisted liposuction was introduced as an alternative to the manual methods of liposuction. This technology which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. SmartLipo employs a thin laser fibre that enters through an incision in the skin and applies bursts of low-energy waves (1064-nm wavelength) to liquefy fat. This wavelength is now considered the “gold standard” for laser lipolysis. SmartLipo uses 18 watts of power, which is ideal for localized areas of fat.

Among the most noted advantages of this technique over traditional methods is its ability to target specific areas, a precision afforded by a smaller cannula (the metal instrument that houses the laser itself). Unlike traditional liposuction, which uses 3-5 mm cannulas, this new technology employs a significantly smaller 1-mm diameter cannula. The incisions for SmartLipo techniques are consequently minimal in size and number, depending on how many areas are treated. The laser is also equipped with a red helium:neon (He:Ne) beam that allows the surgeon to see the location of the laser tip even under the skin, again increasing surgical precision.

The SmartLipo technique delivers laser pulses to the treatment site that loosen and soften the fat, making the liquefied tissue easier to extract. Similar to other liposuction techniques, laser-assisted liposuction often begins with the application of a tumescent solution (consisting of anaesthesia, saline, and epinephrine), followed by the breakdown of fat, a process referred to as “laser lipolysis.” The surgeon will typically move onto standard liposuction in order to vacuum up or “aspirate” the liquefied fat, although suction is not employed in all surgical cases.

Furthermore, surgeons will often apply lasers engineered to coagulate small blood vessels, which helps prevent bruising. Lasers may also stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, tissues that firm and tighten skin. The SmartLipo technique, therefore, produces less trauma on the surrounding area, which generally leads to reduced swelling, less bruising, and an overall reduced recovery time when compared to traditional liposuction methods.

Skin Laxity & Laser-Assisted Liposuction / SmartLipo

When fat is removed by conventional liposuction, the skin must contract over the treated area in order to achieve a smooth result. For certain patients—including those who are obese or have stretch marks—however, the natural contraction of the skin may not be adequate for desired results. This laxity can sometimes lead to the unsightly puckering or folding of the patient’s skin, which may require the surgical removal of the excess tissue. Unfortunately, such skin removal surgeries can lead to unsightly scars that may be even more noticeable than the original loose skin. Another added benefit of SmartLipo is that the surrounding dermis tissue is tightened by the energy from the laser. Because SmartLipo melts fat and tightens skin simultaneously, this laser is ideal for areas where skin laxity is an issue.

Treatment Areas

Laser lipolysis is most effective when used to treat smaller volumes (100 cm3 or less). Studies have shown that SmartLipo has a better efficacy for reducing fat in denser areas, such as in gynecomastia. As such, SmartLipo is often used in conjunction with conventional liposuction. Such procedures can be carried out under local or general anaesthesia, based on your health and preference.Your surgeon or anesthesiologist will recommend the best type of anaesthesia for your particular procedure. There are many areas that can be treated with SmartLipo, including the thighs, abdomen, hips, arms, lower back, neck/lower chin, and chest.

Possible Complications

Patient safety and comfort are of paramount importance to Clinic 360, and every measure is taken to ensure that any risks are minimized or eliminated altogether. Thorough consultations are provided to each patient, where detailed medical records are documented and any concerns are addressed prior to any surgical procedure. Even though laser-assisted liposuction uses minimally invasive technology, there are some risks associated with the technique. The most common complications include skin infections and burns. Most of these burns, however, can often be treated with topical emollients or antibacterial ointments. As with most cosmetic procedures, touch-ups may also be necessary. When combining lasers with conventional liposuction, the list of potential complications will necessarily increase. These risks include pulmonary emboli, seromas, visceral perforations, nerve compression and change in sensation, swelling, fluid imbalance, as well as the various risks associated with anaesthesia. Before undergoing liposuction, be sure to undergo a complete physical exam in order to assess whether you are suitable for the procedure. It is important to note that liposuction is not a means of weight loss, and is intended for healthy patients with realistic expectations.

Laser-Assisted Liposuction (SmartLipo) FAQ