Cosmetic procedures change with some regularity and often the latest treatments get all the attention. But that doesn’t mean you should always opt for the newest technology. For instance, if you’re considering liposuction, is it best to go with the original or the newer laser liposuction? We asked Great Neck, NY, plastic surgeon Kevin Tehrani, MD, to break it down for us.
“A lot of people think of it as completely separate things,” Dr. Tehrani says. “But actually, one encompasses the other. Laser liposuction includes traditional liposuction. You have to think of it as the laser being an add-on to traditional liposuction.”
In traditional liposuction, a tool called a cannula is inserted into the fatty areas and the fat is suctioned out. With the laser lipo add-on, the fat cells are liquified with laser energy before they are removed through traditional lipo methods. When laser lipo first hit the scene, there were concerns about overheating the skin, but recent advancements include more advanced thermal sensors for better safety.
“The major benefit of laser liposuction isn’t in melting the fat,” Dr. Tehrani says. “The major benefit is tightening the skin. You’re heating the skin in a very controlled way. It’s like putting a chicken in the microwave and the protein gets heated up…and the skin gets tighter.”
These skin-tightening benefits make it ideal for areas of the body where the skin is thinner and has less collagen production, particularly the inner thighs, neck and arms.
“After you remove fat cells, you have a relatively large envelope of skin,” Dr. Tehrani says. “The laser augments the building of collagen and offers more skin tightening over and above what it needs to retract on its own.”
While he says liposuction needs vary greatly from patient to patient, traditional lipo is a good option for those who have healthy, tight skin and need to get rid of specific pockets of fat. However, if sagging skin is an issue, especially in the lower part of the abdomen, “they may benefit more from skin-tightening,” he says.
Regardless of which procedure a doctor and patient choose, Dr. Tehrani says a common misconception is that laser lipo is less invasive than traditional lipo. “That’s not necessarily true,” he says. “The difference doesn’t have to do with laser liposuction or traditional liposuction. The difference is the amount of liposuction that happens. It’s more about what your end results need to be…do you need more aggressive sculpting, or spot reduction?”
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