In researching liposuction, you have probably learned that there are many different liposuction technologies available. Liposuction technologies are like the kitchen gadgets you see on late-night infomercials: every one promises to be the "best ever" and the "only one you'll ever need." But if you've ever bought one of these kitchen gadgets, you've probably learned two things. First, while it may do one or two things really well, none of them actually replaces all the traditional tools in your kitchen. Second, none of them will transform you into Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray.
At Marietta Plastic Surgery we rely on the skill of our 4 board-certified* plastic surgeons to ensure you get the best possible results from your liposuction procedure. We do offer advanced liposuction technologies for situations where it can give you better results, but don't like the way advertisers promote them and will never make you an unrealistic promise. If you want to learn more about liposuction technologies, which ones we offer, and which one is best for you, we invite you to schedule a consultation with one of our 4 board-certified plastic surgeons today.
Types of Liposuction Available
Liposuction as a plastic surgery technique has been widely available since the 1980s. The first major innovation in the technique was the development of the tumescent technique in the mid 80s, which was such an improvement over the original liposuction technique that it has become the standard technique, and is often described as "traditional liposuction" these days.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) was the next development in liposuction. This technique uses a cannula (hollow extraction tube) with an oscillating tip that "jackhammers" its way through fat deposits, making the fat easier and quicker to remove.
Ultrasonic liposuction (UAL) also uses an oscillating cannula, but the cannula oscillates so fast that its primary effect is not as a jackhammer effect, but through the creation of ultrasonic waves causes the bloated, weak fat cells to burst, ideally allowing them to be extracted with less damage to other tissues that are hardier. Small amounts of thermal damage to the skin may also trigger a healing response that theoretically improves the contraction of skin over treated areas.
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) uses a cannula that has a laser. The purpose of the laser is the same as the ultrasonic energy: to liquefy fat for easier extraction and heat damage the skin to trigger a healing response that improves skin retraction.
Water jet liposuction is like a subcutaneous power washer that blasts fat deposits with saline solution to facilitate their removal.
Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction (RFAL) uses radio energy to melt fat to allow for easier extraction. The effect is similar to microwaving butter, and the manufacturer also touts thermal damage induced skin tightening.
Although many of these types of liposuction have proven benefits in certain types of treatment, none of them has such universal benefit that they have replaced tumescent liposuction as the dominant form.
The Marketing Incentive
In casual conversation, people talk about liposuction as if it is magic, but by now you have probably done enough research to realize that liposuction is not magic. Liposuction can achieve great results, but it does have a number of important drawbacks:
- Liposuction costs money
- Liposuction requires time off work
- Final results from liposuction can take 2-3 months to see
- Liposuction has risks
People choose liposuction because the great results–proven, repeatable results–outweigh the drawbacks.
But these significant drawbacks create a marketing incentive for manufacturers and doctors to promise a procedure that doesn't have these drawbacks: a procedure that is cheaper, "zero downtime," gives instant results, or is "risk-free." Manufacturers sell doctors on these promises, and many of them–especially inexperienced surgeons–buy in and try to sell them to you.
The "Dirty Little Secret" of Liposuction Technologies
Medical technologies, including liposuction technologies, need to be approved or cleared by the FDA before they can be marketed in the US. Most new liposuction technologies enter the market through what is known as a 510(k) clearance. A 510(k) clearance allows a company to market a new device because it has "substantial equivalence" to an already-marketed device, which is called its "predicate."
Most new liposuction technologies enter the market because the FDA has decided they are substantially equivalent to traditional liposuction or other technologies. You can test this yourself by searching for the name of the device on the FDA website. You'll see the 510(k) approval letters for some of their features and the indications they're approved to treat. You will notice that FDA approval does not include an endorsement of claims that these technologies are superior to traditional liposuction because there is little to no evidence to support such claims.
Only a Tool
Remember, a liposuction technology is only a tool, and is only as good as the hand that wields it. It does not select the patient and it does not perform the surgery. At Marietta Plastic Surgery, our board-certified* plastic surgeons use their experience and training to listen to your cosmetic goals, assess the area or areas to be treated, and select the right tool to give you the best liposuction results possible. They then apply their surgical training and talent to give you a procedure consistent with the best practices in plastic surgery. Although there are no guarantees in surgery, you can see examples of the great results we have achieved for previous patients from the Atlanta area and across Georgia in our before and after gallery.
To learn the truth about liposuction and liposuction technology, please contact Marietta Plastic Surgery today to schedule your consultation.