When you’re not in your best shape, exercise and diet are the only real options you have to get healthy again.  But being healthy doesn’t always equate with looking good.  This is where the problem arises.  Even when you finally, after weeks or even months of effort, drop down to your goal weight, sometimes you don’t look like you thought you would.  This is because not all of the fat can simply be burned off.  For those stubborn pockets of fat that no combination of exercise can seem to budge, liposuction may be the answer.

Liposuction is, simply speaking, a body sculpting procedure that surgically removes fat deposits in small areas of the body.  Liposuction can work for anyone, but it is not a weight-loss procedure:  it works best for small deposits of fat with not too much excess skin overlying the area.  Liposuction, again, has some benefits for anyone, but when there are larger deposits of fat the excess skin left behind may pose a cosmetic problem.  This is why it is best for normal weight people with good skin elasticity, and is nor recommended for people who are more than 20-25 pounds overweight.  If people are above this range, they may be advised to lose some weight to get down to a more operable level.

So how is liposuction done?  The basic procedure of all liposuction processes is the same.  Under anesthesia, small incisions are made over and around the areas that need to be sculpted, and through these incisions, thin blunt tubes called cannulas are inserted to ‘draw’ the fat out.  A suction process is used, but the technique applied varies with the subtype of the procedure being applied. Some of the most commonly used ones are listed below:

Suction-assisted liposuction

Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) is the standard method of liposuction.  In this approach, a small cannula (a thin blunt edged tube) is inserted through a small incision. It is attached to a vacuum device. The surgeon carefully pushes and pulls it in a forwards and backwards motion through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and drawing them out of the body by suction.

Power Assisted Liposuction

PAL:  This method uses a specialized cannula with mechanized movement, so that the surgeon does not need to make as many manual movements. Otherwise it is similar to traditional SAL.

Tumescent Liposuction

The tumescent (wet) liposuction technique is probably the most commonly used.  First a saline solution containing certain medications to reduce the size and flow of the blood vessels is injected at strategic points into the area being worked on to loosen the fat, making it easier to suction out.  It is a relatively painless procedure because an anesthetic is also injected along with the medications, and because of the minimized loss of blood and reduced number of open or eroded blood vessels, the recovery period is also faster.  A vacuum tube is used to clear the fat deposits away by suctioning them out.

Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction

UAL:  From the top of the cannula ultrasound waves are emitted that liquefy the fat before suctioning it out.  UAL is generally used for people who have larger areas of fat deposits to be removed, because this approach liquefies the fat producing larger amounts of disposable fat than some other methods, which is then eliminated by suction.  However risks of skin damage have been reported in some cases.

VASER

VASER liposuction is a new generation of ultrasound assisted liposuction that uses very small instruments, a thin cannula with several emitters embedded in it, so that ultrasound waves are distributed evenly over the entire application area and greater amounts of fat can be gently melted away due to reduced blood loss.  It uses the same concept as UAL, but without disturbing the surrounding tissues such as nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, which permits a more delicate and gentle approach.  Again, it works very well with larger areas because this method of uniform fat removal has shown improved results that are smooth and predictable.  VASER Lipo is different and improved from previous ultrasonic fat removal technologies in its safety, efficacy and gentleness.

Laser Assisted Liposuction

LAL makes use of a laser to melt the fat in the target area, making it easier to remove. This laser is administered through a fibre threaded through a microcannula. The premise is similar to UAL. It is believed that these techniques can reduce bruising and bleeding, as it also cauterizes to a certain extent.

SAFELipo

SAFELipo, an ancronym for Separation, Aspiration, and Fat Equalization, using an “exploded tip” cannula, is different from traditional liposuction in that it doesn’t generate any heat.  This means less damage to the skin, blood vessels, and nerves, which can allow for a shorter healing time.  The final step in the treatment, Fat Equalization, involves fat grafting and fat shifting to minimize the risk for lumpy or uneven results.  The last step is what gives such excellent results with SAFElipo, because the remaining layer of fat is smoothed out over the surface of the treatment area.

What type to choose?

The type of recommended procedure is decided by the doctor based upon the patient’s needs.  All types of liposuction come with minimal scarring, with very small scars that fade over time.  Surgeons also use incisions in body creases and in unnoticeable areas so that the scars will not be as visible even while they fade.