Liposuction has entered a new era. There’s now a procedure that melts fat and tightens skin – all in the same operation. Dr. Christine Petti explains how.
Liposuction technology has come a long way over the past several decades, with the advent of everything from ultrasound-assisted liposuction to power-assisted, tumescent, body-jet and even microcannula liposuction. Now, another new technique called SmartLipoâ„¢ uses laser energy to liquify fat and tighten skin.
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“SmartLipo is a procedure that’s very popular and gives a great result,” notes California-based plastic surgeon Dr. Christine Petti, who uses SmartLipo in her practice.
During a Smartlipo Laser Body Sculpting Laserlipolysis procedure, a plastic surgeon inserts a lightweight, flexible wand tool into fatty tissue and melts the patient’s fat by using a specific laser wavelength. A separate tube sucks away the fat, as with traditional liposuction. Then, the surgeon uses a different laser wavelength to create heat under the dermis, which causes the skin collagen to contract. This second step eliminates the time-honored problem of patients dealing with loose skin after liposuction. The skin contraction process continues over a period of three to six months.
“That’s what attracted me in being able to offer this to my patients, because tightening the skin has always been the dilemma of liposuction,” Dr. Petti says. “You have now the prospect of offering the patient a procedure where you can both contour the fat and tighten the skin. And this way, they don’t have the scars that are associated with a tummy tuck.”
Dr. Petti said another reason she found the SmartLipo procedure attractive was that the patient only requires a local anesthesia. Other liposuction procedures can involve bigger tools or a more cumbersome surgery, making it necessary for patients to undergo general anesthesia.
“They’re just comfortable and they’re lightly sedated and they’re monitored,” Dr. Petti says about SmartLipo patients. “But after the procedure, they can get up and put their garment on – we assist them with that, and then they can leave and they can go back to their normal activities in a day.”
Dr. Petti notes that SmartLipo is best administered by a board-certified plastic surgeon. Such surgeons, she explains, are not only qualified for liposuction but for other related operations that may be more suitable for the patient, such as a tummy tuck. In addition, she cautions that SmartLipo should not be considered the best option for every liposuction procedure. Patients should ideally seek out a surgeon who offers several different technologies in their practice, to ensure the doctor uses the most appropriate tool or technique for the patient’s individual needs.