As more women and men want to look and feel better about themselves, body contouring and lipo-sculpture continue to grow in popularity, making liposuction the most popular cosmetic surgery performed today.
Lasers are the latest additions to the modern liposuction armamentarium. There are two distinct technologies currently in use: external (cold) lasers and internal lasers. Contrary to popular belief and marketing claims, these technologies, in their current state, are designed to be used as tools in conjunction with conventional liposuction surgery and are not intended to be used as stand-alone therapies for targeted fat reduction.
External cold laser liposuction is based on technology developed in the 1960s and marketed by Erchonia under the name Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). The technology, which has received FDA approval for both liposuction and the management of musculoskeletal pain, involves irradiation of liposuction target areas for a short period of time immediately after the instillation of tumescent local anesthesia and before the commencement of the liposuction procedure itself. The immediate effect of the laser is to produce temporary pores in the cell membranes of adipocytes allowing fat to migrate into the extracellular space – a process which is perceived by the surgeon as softening of the targeted fat and which expedites the speed of fat removal. Secondary benefits include reductions in postoperative pain, swelling and edema.
Developed in Europe and South America in the 1990s, laser lipolysis was first performed with a pulsed 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser (SmartLipo, Cynosure; LipoLite, Syneron), and subsequently with a continuous wave 980-nm diode laser (Pharaon, Osyris, Hellemmes, France) and a pulsed 1320-nm Nd:YAG laser (CoolLipo, CoolTouch). The microscopic effects of laser lipolysis include adipocyte rupture, coagulation of small blood vessels and reorganization of the reticular dermis – effects which may translate into reduced bruising in the acute recovery phase and the ability to promote skin tightening.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Q. How does the laser lipolysis procedure work?
A very small cannula, or tube, approximately 1.0 mm to 2.0 mm in diameter containing a laser fiber is inserted into the skin. The cannula is moved back and forth delivering the laser’s energy to the fat cells, causing them to rupture and easily drain away. The laser energy also interacts with the dermis resulting in collagen shrinkage.
Due to the cannula’s small size, laser lipolysis is a minimally invasive procedure and can be performed under local anesthesia. The laser causes small blood vessels to coagulate immediately on contact, resulting in less bleeding, swelling, and bruising, and a quicker recovery time than conventional liposuction. Because general anesthesia is unnecessary, the procedure is very safe with only minimal side effects. [Return to Top]
Q. Who is a good candidate for the laser lipolysis procedure?
If you have areas of fat that will not respond to diet and exercise, then you are a candidate for CoolLipo. Ideal candidates are in good health, of normal body weight and have realistic expectations for the results. [Return to Top]
Q. What body regions can be treated with laser lipolysis?
CoolLipo can be a great adjunct to traditional liposuction procedures and it is ideal for treating small areas of the face, neck, arms, knees, back, bra strap, mons pubis, breasts (gynecomastia), and areas of loose and flabby skin (floppy skin). [Return to Top]
Q. How many treatments will I need?
For most patients, typically only one treatment is required. The session may last from 45 minutes to one hour for each area treated. [Return to Top]
Q. Do I have to do anything post-treatment?
After the treatment, you will have minimal pain or bruising. We recommend 1-2 days rest but most patients are able to return to work immediately (Lunch-Hour Lipo). [Return to Top]
Q. Does laser lipolysis treat cellulite?
The procedure will improve the body’s shape and may improve cellulite to certain degree and will tighten sagging skin. [Return to Top]
Q. When can I expect to see results?
Results can be seen immediately with continued improvement over several months. [Return to Top]
Q. Does laser-assisted liposuction produce lasting results?
Yes! Adults do not create new fat cells. When a person gains weight, the fat cells expand. The laser lipolysis procedure permanently removes the fat cells. Should you gain weight, most fat will be deposited in areas where the procedure was not performed. [Return to Top]
Q. What are the advantages of laser lipolysis?
- Minimal Downtime - A few of our patients can return to work immediately, almost like a “lunchtime Liposuction.” We normally advise a day or two of rest.
- Minimal Discomfort - During the procedure, there is no pain. After the anesthesia has worn off, it only feels like the aches and pains that follow a vigorous workout. The bruises too are much less with laser lipolysis than with standard liposuction techniques.
- Less Traumatic -The fiber-optic cannula is inserted through a small puncture in the skin usually along creases that conceal the scar. As the laser melts the fats, it also coagulates the loose ends of small blood vessels. Compression garments are optional as the area will not bleed very much after the laser is removed. The granulation tissue (healing-tissues) does the rest of the work in contracting the treated area as well as the overlying skin.
- Almost "Normal" Skin after 3 Months -It would be very hard to find the insertion points or tell by looking at the skin that any liposuction has ever been done. Skin contracts with the heeling tissues that replace the melted fats.
- Safety - Laser lipolysis is less invasive than traditional liposuction, because there is less bleeding and anesthetic drugs used. In fact, in doing the procedure under tumescent technique, we have eliminated a lot of risks normally associated with general anesthesia. [Return to Top]