Laser liposuction is a newer form of traditional liposuction that uses lasers to soften the fat cells before they are removed. It can be used to reduce fat on many areas of the body, including popular areas for fat removal such as the thighs, abdomen, and chin. Most candidates for laser liposuction are simply looking to spot reduce stubborn fat areas that will not go away with exercise, not as a way to lose large amounts of fat. People for whom this type of liposuction might not be a good solution are diabetics and people with heart, liver, or kidney problems. Some blood and skin disorders may also prevent a candidate from receiving laser liposuction.
When fat is removed during a liposuction procedure, it must first be dislodged and broken up in order to be suctioned out. This can sometimes cause damage to the surrounding tissues. The difference between laser liposuction and regular liposuction is simply the addition of a laser intended to liquefy and soften the fat cells, making them easier to remove in the same process that traditional liposuction uses. Those who support laser liposuction claim that the heat from the laser can also help encourage collagen production, which may cause loose skin to tighten.
Laser liposuction can be done in an office under local anesthesia or sedation. It is purported to be much safer than it used to be, requiring a small incision and usually causing only minor blood loss. Despite this, it carries all the risks of traditional liposuction, including infection, scarring, and blood clots, with the addition of the risk of laser burns and the potential for necrosis of fat cells.
Recipients of laser liposuction report mixed results, with some completely satisfied and others who sustained tissue damage and injuries or developed an unsatisfactory “lumpy” appearance in the treated area. Others experienced little to no change in appearance at all, and judged the procedure to be a waste of money. Some plastic surgeons argue that laser liposuction is just a similar, more expensive version of traditional liposuction, and that any potential benefits may not be worth the extra cost and risk of burns. Most add that, even with liposuction, not all of the fat cells can be removed, so it is possible to regain the weight. Doctors generally agree that the results will vary based on the doctor performing the procedure, the area of the body being treated, and the patient’s personal goals.