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Smart Liposuction Overview


The Smart Liposuction Procedure
smart liposuction surgery
Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images
In smart liposuction procedures, the patient's body excretes fatty oil through the liver. Here, in a conventional liposuction procedure, fluids are vacuumed out of the body.

Laser-assisted liposuction works on small, localized areas of fat on the face and body. Areas that can be treated with laser-assisted liposuction include the face, neck, jowls, arms, back, gynecomastia (or male breasts) and loose skin.

Just as with any surgical procedure, laser-assisted liposuction isn't for everyone. The ideal candidate is someone who is in generally good health and close to a normal body weight, but who has areas of fat that just won't budge, even with diet and exercise.

The smart liposuction procedure begins with a consultation. During the consultation, the doctor asks about the patient's medical history to determine if he or she is a candidate for the procedure. The doctor will also evaluate the areas to be treated.

Before the actual procedure begins, the doctor uses a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area. Then the doctor makes a 1- to 2- millimeter incision in the skin and inserts a cannula, or a very thin tube with a laser fiber through it, just under the skin's surface. The doctor moves the cannula back and forth in a fanning motion through the areas of fat underneath the skin. A small red light on the laser is visible through the skin to help the doctor see what he or she is doing.

Lunch Hour Lipo?
Laser-assisted liposuction has been referred to as "lunch hour liposuction" because of the speed at which it can be performed. Depending on how much of the body is treated, sessions last only from 45 minutes to one hour. The name "lunch hour lipo" is a little misleading -- you can't exactly head straight back to work after liposuction. Most doctors recommend that their patients stay home and recuperate for a day or two to let the treated area heal.

As the laser fiber comes into contact with the fat cells, the heat it gives off causes the cell membranes to swell -- similar to blowing up a bubble. When the cells swell big enough, they burst into fatty oil. This oily byproduct is why ads for smart liposuction often say that laser-assisted liposuction "melts away fat." If the treatment area is relatively large, the doctor will remove the fat remnants with a suction device. For smaller areas, the body will just absorb the liquefied fat and excrete it via the liver, just as it would any other waste product.

Another appeal of the smart liposuction procedure is that the energy from the laser doesn't just destroy fat cells -- it also triggers the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that gives skin its strength and keeps it looking firm. This extra collagen tightens the treated area, which is why laser-assisted liposuction works better than conventional liposuction for people who have loose skin.