Liposuction, sometimes referred to as “lipo” by patients, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and improving body contours and proportion. It can be used to reduce fat all over the body, but is particularly important for the torso as an adjunct to abdominoplasty (tummy tuck.) There are several different types of liposuction. Laser assisted uses thermal energy, power assisted involves a mechanized movement to break up fat and traditional liposuction employs a suction probe to emulsify fatty deposits. All have distinct pros and cons.
Why is this different?
Dr. Mark Epstein is a strong proponent of VaserLipo® and uses it extensively in his Stony Brook, NY practice. VaserLipo® is a minimally invasive liposuction procedure that uses ultrasound waves to selectively break up small or large areas of fat without affecting surrounding tissues. Epstein explains,“VaserLipo® is different than traditional lipo which involves injecting fluid into the fat to tense it up, inserting a cannula and basically ripping and avulsing the fat from the skin. In Vaser, I put in fluid but there is another step. A probe with high energy ultrasound causes the fat to liquefy and then I suction with a cannula. I’m basically evacuating liquefied fat.”
Epstein emphasizes this method doesn’t affect nerves, blood vessels or muscles and gives him plenty control in depth of contouring. “It is tissue specific only for fat…You can remove fat from both superficial layer for sculpting, the deeper layers for de-bulking, and (address) the intermediate level for much greater control in results.”
“I want to see contours…shadows when light hits the body. I don’t want to see a look that is flat and shapeless. – Mark Epstein, MD, FACS
Sculpting the Body
According to Epstein, liposuction cannot be one dimensional. It is more about shaping than simply removing fat. It is an art form. “I want to see contours…shadows when light hits the body. I don’t want to see a look that is flat and shapeless. When I create a torso (during abdominoplasty) I want to see definition of muscles…transition zones in the abdomen.” Epstein contends that in traditional abdominoplasty skin and fat is essentially pulled down but nothing is being done to reshape the tummy which is an essential step to obtain shape. Without it, “…you get a shapeless, lifeless looking abdomen that simply looks like a bedsheet pulled too tight. It’s not natural.” Epstein does a 360 degree assessment of his patients to determine where volume deficits as well as excesses exist to better round out curves and a patient’s shape overall.
Epstein believes VaserLipo® is less traumatic to tissues and contributes to a speedier recovery. Aside from special compression garments worn post surgically, he also enlists the help of a massage therapist for his patients which he considers his silver bullet. “She knows how to…minimize accumulation of fluid and swelling, reduce scar adherence and get the very best out of what I do surgically. Patients love it.”
What about post-operative pain? Epstein has replaced pain pumps with Exparel®, a non-opioid local anesthetic which provides pain relief for up to 4 days. In most cases, Epstein’s patients don’t even need narcotics, the absence of which promotes a faster recovery.
Life Changing Procedures
When considering a surgeon for liposuction and abdominoplasty it is crucial to remember that these are both invasive procedures and must be performed by a board certified surgeon who considers safety first. Epstein also stresses when you are looking for body contouring, to find someone who looks at the body holistically, “…someone to rejuvenate your torso versus a cookie cutter approach. Interview the surgeon, look at his results, and talk to his patients.” Patient satisfaction is extremely high in his practice. “These are life changing procedures…but you want an easy post-op recovery free from complications (while getting) the dream body you always wanted.”