For years, liposuction has been one of the most popular cosmetic surgery treatments among both men and women in the U.S. But if you’re just embarking on your search for the best liposuction options in Los Angeles, be prepared to encounter a bevy of terms and phrases that describe different types of liposuction techniques.
Online searches for liposuction may turn up terms such as tickle lipo, micro lipo, water-assisted, liposculpture, and several other names that marketing people dream up. Even though they may have subtle differences, these variations are really just trying to carve out a niche to attract the attention of both patients and plastic surgeons.
That’s not to say that all liposuction techniques are essentially the same. Some devices use different technologies, such as laser liposuction or ultrasound lipo, but here’s the most important thing to keep in mind—the surgeon performing the procedure is more important than the device being used.
What Is Liposuction?
Before describing the most common liposuction techniques available, let’s do a quick refresher about the procedure that many people just call lipo. In general, liposuction is a cosmetic surgery treatment that removes fat from specific areas where it tends to accumulate beneath the skin (called subcutaneous fat). This is the jiggly fat rather than the deeper fat surrounding your organs (called visceral fat).
What Are the Different Types of Liposuction?
Modern liposuction techniques date back to the late 1970s and 1980s, and the safety and effectiveness of the techniques have significantly evolved since then. Still, the most popular type of liposuction is quite similar to the traditional liposuction technique—called tumescent liposuction—used decades earlier.
Here’s a look at the primary types of liposuction plastic surgeons offer:
The word “tumescent” means swollen. In traditional liposuction, the surgeon injects a solution containing a local anesthetic and drug called epinephrine into the targeted areas of excessive fatty deposits. The solution saturates the fatty layer under the skin’s surface, causing it to swell and become firmer. This gives surgeons better control as they contour the area. The solution also temporarily shrinks blood vessels, reducing blood loss during the procedure and minimizing bruising, swelling, and pain after the procedure.
Virtually all techniques soak the treatment area with a tumescent solution.
Once the area is saturated, surgeons insert a small, skinny tube called a cannula that’s connected to a machine similar to a vacuum. They then move the cannula vigorously back and forth to break up the fatty tissue, which is sucked through the tube into a collection system.
I was involved in some of the early clinical studies for first-generation power-assisted liposuction devices. I remain convinced that PAL offers numerous advantages that set it apart from other liposuction techniques, such as laser and ultrasound techniques. What are these benefits?
PAL targets fat with precision, creates minimal trauma, and results in less bruising. It also requires less time under anesthesia and is more effective in treating fibrous fat, which tends to be more difficult to remove. Because PAL is much gentler than manual tumescent liposuction, I can offer my patients 24-Hour Recovery Liposuction.
Instead of having to move the cannula back and forth manually, the PAL cannula glides easily through fatty tissue as it vibrates at frequencies controlled by the surgeon. That results in more control as the surgeon sculpts new contours.
Even though the PAL technique is an excellent option for most patients, some people can benefit from liposuction alternatives. Ultrasonic liposuction liquefies fat using waves of sound energy that are delivered by cannulas just below the skin. The fat is then sucked from the body. Ultrasonic liposuction is especially useful for areas that are difficult to treat, such as the knees, neck, chin, feet, and ankles.
As with ultrasonic lipo, laser liposuction melts fat using laser energy emitted through a tiny fiber wire inserted through the skin. We use Smartlipo® laser liposuction at our Marina del Rey practice, which enables the surgeon to control the level of laser energy. It’s important to choose a surgeon with experience performing laser lipo because of the potential risk of burns.
The heat generated by the laser stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin, which produces a modest amount of skin tightening in the treatment area. Smartlipo is also a good option for areas of fibrous tissue, such as male chests for patients with gynecomastia.
As you can see, choosing the best liposuction treatment for my Los Angeles patients depends on different factors. For people who want a substantial amount of fat removed, the best option is usually power-assisted liposuction.
If you’re bothered by pockets of stubborn fat and are looking for a liposuction surgeon in the L.A. area, request a consultation using the online form or call our practice at (310) 300-1779 to schedule an appointment.