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Essential Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Committing to Laser Lipo

Posted January 31, 2013 under Liposuction - No comments

The liposuction industry is filled with confusing terms. Laser Lipo, Smart Lipo, SlimLipo, Cool Lipo, and many more. How are you supposed to choose? Are there any significant differences? Keep reading so you know what to ask before you decide.

Dr. Sinclair's Response

Trying to choose the right kind of liposuction for you is a little like buying a new car, with out the test drive. Every doctor thinks their way is the best for everybody. They can't all be right! To make the right choice you need some basic info so you can ask the right questions.

The original liposuction procedure (invented by a gynecologist!) called tradtional lipo requires general anesthesia. After you are asleep, a large tube is inserted into your fat and the fat is sucked out. The recovery was long, painful and involved lots of bruising. Not a great choice.

About 20 years ago a dermatologist figured out how to do it without general anesthesia. He injected water and local anesthetic and anti bruising medication into your fat and then sucked it out with a big tube. This is called tumescent liposuction. No general anesthesia, less bruising, less pain, shorter recovery. Better, but still not great.

Next doctors started using an ultrasound probe to inject energy and heat into the fat after the tumescent anesthesia. The idea was to melt the fat before sucking it out so smaller tubes could be used. It worked pretty well and there was improved skin tightening. This technique, called Vaser Liposuction is still used today. It's biggest problem (that nobody wants to admit) is that the fat got so hot it was causing both internal and external burns. There have been improvements, but burns are still a problem.

Next, doctors tried using a laser to heat the water after it was injected. The idea was that the hot water could melt the fat and avoid super hot spots that caused burning. The most popular version of this technique is called SmartLipo. The problem was that hot water is not very smart. It heats up everything, fat, skin, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, etc. It is very popular today, but mostly because of excellent marketing. Not a bad choice, probably safer than Vaser, probably not as effective as Vaser.

Now for an inside (dirty) secret. In the liposuction industry, lasers that are used for liposuction are built before they have any clue as to how well they work for liposuction. This is because there are 4 different wavelengths that are easy to build. They build them first, and them come up with some scientific sounding reason about why that wavelength was chosen. The wavelength was chosen because it was easy to build, not because it worked any better! The good news is they all generate heat, so they all work to some extent. So which one works the best?

It took a long time to figure it out, but it is possible to find a wavelength that is very specific for melting fat while avoiding melting everything else. The best wavelength for melting fat is 924 nm. It is not easy to build a laser that produced that wavelength, and it was expensive, but it worked great! That technique is called SlimLipo. The SlimLipo is actually 2 lasers built into one device. One laser for melting fat (924 nm), and a second for tightening skin (980 nm). The doctor can choose either laser or even turn them both on at the same time to get the most fat melting, the most skin tightening and the least amount of side effects. In my opinion, that combination makes the most sense.

There is one more option that you need to know about. It's called PAL or Power Assisted Liposuction. It's not a laser at all. It is a device that jiggles the suction tube back and forth a very tiny amount at extremely high speeds. This device helps make the suction process as smooth as possible. The high speed vibration can remove the tiny irregularities that are missed by the laser. This reduces the chances of having any lumps when you are finished. By combining PAL with SlimLipo, you get the very best combination for safe and effective liposuction.



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