Liposuction is a type of plastic surgery that breaks up and removes “unwanted” fat from various parts of the body such as the tummy, flanks, hips, thighs, and buttocks. But with the advances in technology, it has now become possible to contour smaller areas such as the chin and neck with this technique.
Laser liposuction is one technique suitable for contouring smaller areas. It requires the insertion of cannula (thin probe) that houses a laser to melt the fats prior to their extraction—i.e., with the use of drains/small incisions or vacuum pump.
The laser device is calibrated to target the fat cells only, however, burns could occur if too much heat builds up under the skin, although a skilled liposuction doctor knows how to avoid such risk.
On the other hand, tumescent liposuction is believed to be the gold standard [traditional] technique. It requires the injection of large volumes of local anesthesia, saline, and blood vessel-constricting epinephrine into the fatty area to make it swollen and firm.
Most liposuction procedures start off with the injection of tumescent fluids, although some surgeons prefer an “additional step” which could be in the form of laser, ultrasound, power-assisted, VASER, etc. But even as a stand-alone technique, tumescent lipo is notable for its accuracy.
With or without laser or any other additional step, liposuction recovery is fairly quick that most patients are back to work two to three days postop, although it remains important to avoid strenuous exercises for at least three weeks to prevent persistent swelling and bruising.
The length of recovery largely depends on the type of anesthetic use. Nowadays, general anesthesia is rarely used due to the introduction of tumescent fluids that contain lidocaine, which is a type of local anesthesia wherein its numbing effects can last 18-24 hours postop.
Despite being a newer technology, laser liposuction is often less expensive than the traditional technique due to the reason that it only targets a small area—e.g., chin, jowl, cheek, calf, ankle, and knee.
The tumescent lipo as a stand-alone technique, meanwhile, often involves a larger area such as the abdomen, flanks, thighs, male chest, bra rolls, and upper arm, thus explains the higher liposuction cost.
With different liposuction techniques and “technologies” all claiming to be the best, renowned Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili says the most important variable is the “operator” who must have the right board certifications, training, and experience.