Many people have questions regarding the new Smartlipo laser liposuction procedure. Some of these have been answered by Lawrence D Broder, MD of Beleza Medspa, a doctor experienced in the use of Smartlipo.
What Exactly is Smartlipo?
Smartlipo is a laser device produced by Cynosure. It utilizes a single wavelength of light which is designed to destroy and liquefy fat cells. The Smartlipo procedure is different from traditional liposuction in that it requires only local anesthetic and can be performed in the doctor’s office, rather than in a hospital or surgery center. The local anesthetic lidocaine is combined with epinephrine, and these are infused under the skin using small incisions about half an hour before the procedure begins. The lidocaine is to numb the area, preventing pain, and the epinephrine is used to constrict blood vessels, minimizing bleeding and bruising.
As the only areas numbed are the skin and fat deposits, the rest of the body, including the underlying muscle is unaffected by the anesthetic, making the procedure much safer than surgery performed under general anaesthetic. The liposuction part of the procedure uses a micro cannula, which has a diameter of only 2 to 4 mm, compared to the 6 to 8 mm cannulas used in traditional liposuction. These micro cannulas can do a finer job of sculpting, as they are more precise, therefore giving much better results than those achieved by traditional liposuction, which can leave irregularities in the shape of the body. In fact, Smartlipo has been used to cure irregularities remaining after traditional liposuction.
How Does Smartlipo Work?
After the installation of fluid containing lidocaine and epinephrine beneath the skin, the physician waits about half an hour for a profound anesthesia to develop. The first stage of the Smartlipo procedure involves inserting the Smartlipo catheter through the incisions already in the skin and directing the laser beam to the lower levels of skin. This heats the skin, causing contraction of collagen and stimulation of skin cells, which actually get them to create more collagen, and thus enabling further tightening over the next few months. After this stage, the catheter is directed deeper into the fat tissues, where fat cell lipolysis begins. It is actually possible to hear the fat cells explode and liquefy as the laser hits them.
Once the fat has been liquefied sufficiently, a micro cannula is used to suction the liquefied fat. During this process, the physician is able to monitor the body contours and may even be able to get the patient to stand up, giving a better view of the results and allowing greater targeting of problem areas.
After the procedure is completed, the small incisions created when the anesthetic was injected are allowed to remain open. These then act as drains for remaining fat and fluids, allowing faster patient recovery. These incisions are allowed to heal naturally over the next few days.
How Many Treatments Are Required?
Ideally only one treatment is needed for a successful result, but if the patient wishes to have several parts of the body operated on, the physician may recommend that the patient undergo several procedures. There is a limit to the amount of lidocaine that can be introduced into the body at any one time, meaning there is a limited area, which can be operated on. A typical procedure may last three hours, and multiple areas may require much longer, which is hard on both physician and patient.
What Areas Can Be Treated?
Any area of the body can be treated with Smartlipo liposuction. It is generally used on the traditional areas of the body targeted with liposuction, including the abdomen, flanks, buttocks, thighs, arms and under the chin and neck. However, it is safe to use on any area of the body at all where stubborn fat deposits exist.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
In general, after 3 to 4 days people are able to return to work and get back to their normal lives. There will be some swelling and drainage for the first few days, which will cease as the incisions heal. The doctor will prescribe painkillers and antibiotics, which should be used for the first few days after the procedure. While the patient will be numb when they return home from the doctor’s office, they will begin experiencing pain later.
How Do You Choose A Smartlipo Surgeon?
It is important to do thorough research before undergoing any cosmetic procedure. Go and visit potential physicians, and ask them questions. Look at the results they have achieved in the past (ensure they have many before and after pictures to show you), and get them to describe the procedure to you in detail. A good doctor will be willing to explain exactly how the procedure is performed and will also describe any risks involved.
In general, Smartlipo is a very safe and satisfactory method of liposuction. It allows a very rapid recovery time, there is minimal pain, and patients can return to their normal lives within days of the procedure.