Types of Liposuction and Your Safety

Parker Center for Plastic Surgery

Since its introduction in the 1980’s, liposuction has undergone significant improvements in technique and results. The cannulae, or suction tubes, used to extract unwanted fat have become smaller and more efficient over time. Connecting these metal cannulae to a vacuum based liposuction aspiration machine has been referred to as Traditional Liposuction (also known as SAL or suction assisted lipectomy). It has been the “gold standard” against which all liposuction devices have been measured.

Ultrasonic Liposuction in New Jersey

Ultrasonic assisted liposuction, or UAL, which uses sound waves to break up fat, was first introduced in Europe in the late 1980’s. Based on its popularity there, it was studied extensively by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in the 1990’s before being introduced in the United States. The VASER (vibration amplification of sound energy at resonance) system of UAL was introduced in 2001 by William Cimino, PhD, a physicist with extensive experience in ultrasonic instrumentation for surgery.

The tip of the VASER probes emits a precise amount of ultrasonic energy which specifically emulsifies the target fat cells and spares the skin, blood vessels and nerves. The term “liposelection” has been used to describe this level of specificity. Compared with the earlier UAL devices, the VASER system produced the following advantages: thinner probes and cannulae, lower levels of ultrasonic energy required to more effectively melt fat, faster operative times, greater preservation of blood vessels and nerves with less postoperative pain.

VASER logo

Dr. Parker began using the VASER system shortly after its release in 2001. It has enabled him to provide his patients with natural appearing body contouring results and a rapid, pain-free recovery. Over the years, he has found VASER Liposelection valuable for patients undergoing both small and large amounts of fat removal.

In addition, it was Dr. Parker’s observation that patients with less than ideal skin tone would undergo improved skin retraction and re-draping during the healing phase after VASER liposuction. This observation was confirmed by a prospective study presented in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in October, 2009, 124:23-4: “The VASER-assisted liposuction method demonstrated a 53% improvement in skin retraction per cc of aspirate removed relative to the traditional SAL method and an average reduction of 26% in blood loss compared to traditional SAL. This is the first study to demonstrate statistically significant and clinically-relevant improvements in a new liposuction technology relative to SAL.”

Laser Liposuction in New Jersey

Various companies in the past several years have introduced liposuction systems based on different wavelengths of light used to destroy fat cells. These laser assisted liposuction (LAL) systems are known as SmartLipo, SlimLipo, ProLipo, etc. These technologies use laser frequencies that are not as specific for fat as the VASER ultrasonic energy.

This lack of tissue specificity with the laser devices means the energy they emit may cause equal damage to fat, nerves, blood vessels and skin, raising safety concerns. These laser liposuction systems have not undergone the same level of study or scientific scrutiny as UAL or the VASER system. Despite this relative lack of science, these laser systems have been marketed heavily by their manufacturers and the doctors using them. Dr. Parker has carefully evaluated the clinical studies on these devices as they have become available. To date, he feels they are underpowered systems which do not provide an advantage in terms of results and recovery for his patients.

SAFE Liposuction in New Jersey

For several years now, Dr. Parker has been using a technique called “SAFE” lipo. This method of liposuction was developed by Dr. Parker’s friend and colleague, Dr. Simeon Wall, in Louisiana. The term represents an acronym for: Separation, Aspiration & Fat Equalization, i.e., the use of the term, “SAFE.”

The separation phase uses a specifically designed cannula to gently separate, or loosen, the fat cells from one another. This then allows Dr. Parker to aspirate, or remove the unwanted fat cells more easily using fine cannulas. The final fat equalization phase allows Dr. Parker to smooth out the area, leaving behind a thinner layer of separated healthy fat cells. Dr. Parker and his patients like the consistently natural improvements in contour and skin retraction that SAFE lipo provides.

Dr. Parker believes SAFE liposuction has the advantage of loosening fat cells without damaging them with ultrasonic or laser energy like other systems on the market. He sees no disadvantages to this method. Therefore, for the most part, SAFE lipo has become his procedure of choice in performing liposuction.

Other Forms of Liposuction/ Lipolysis

  • Power water-assisted liposuction is a liposuction technique with comparable results to SAFE liposuction or Vaser liposuction.
  • External ultrasound delivers ultrasonic energy through the skin by an external paddle. Its effectiveness continues to be studied and debated.
  • Mesotherapy and injection lipolysis are non-surgical alternatives to liposuction. Their safety and ability to deliver satisfactory, consistent results are under investigation but have been questioned.
  • Coolsculpting is a patented method of non-surgical fat reduction which selectively freezes fat in undesired areas. This method requires no anesthesia and no downtime. Patients wishing fat removal without any type of surgery or anesthesia should consider Coolsculpting, available at the Parker Center.

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