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SmartLipo and Laser Liposuction

The surgical removal of fat is a practice that has been implemented for several decades. The techniques have changed dramatically over the years, improving the safety and quality of the results. The equipment has evolved and been refined over the years, providing smaller instruments and better control over the suctioning process. The tumescent technique was introduced to significantly decrease the skin depressions and to mobilize the fat for removal. This process of tumescence involves the infiltration of a bio-compatible fluid into the fat layer, thereby mobilizing the cells for removal, reducing blood loss, and improving upon the final results with smoother skin contours.

It should be stressed that liposuction, by any process, involves the removal of entire fat cells. The individual fat cell is a storage unit for excess calories; we are born with a finite number of fat cells and that number remains constant throughout life. When body weight increases due to obesity, the fat cells begin to divide, creating new cells and a greater capacity for fat storage. Those new cells then fill up with fat and the cycle continues. This is why it’s so difficult for overweight individuals to loose weight. The fat cells may become smaller in dieting, but they never decrease in number, unless surgically removed. The skin stretches, often permanently, to accommodate the extra bulk, and so we begin to weigh more and look fat.

Surgery, especially liposuction, is responsible for removing these storage units and their contents, that is, the fat cells themselves. The weight of the individual is reduced, but even more noticeably, as fat does not weigh very much, the contour of the area is reduced and improved. The excess skin in the area of fat removal presents the next aesthetic challenge in body contouring surgery. Sometimes the skin shrinks in response to liposuction, but when it does not contract, the contour problem remains. One solution, naturally, is to remove the excess skin, but this more extensive solution provides for large scars, considerably more surgical time, and more procedural complexity. Lately, another solution for skin shrinkage has been added to the liposuction surgical options. A laser machine, that generates a particular wave length (1064nm), specifically targeted to the undersurface of the skin, has been developed by Cynosure, which causes the excess skin to contract. Through a series of clinical trials and research, ‘Smartlipo’ has been FDA approved for clinical use. This machine involves the use of a fiber, enclosed in a tube with an exposed tip. This fiber is introduced into the skin though the existing incisions (which were made for the liposuction procedure), and delivers a series of pulses to the dermis. The Smartlipo device causes the skin to contract to more favorably, enclosing the new and improved contour following fat removal. The laser liposuction technique is designed to target damaged, stretch-marked skin, greatly improving the final, healed appearance. This process is similar to dropping a raw egg into a hot skillet – notice how the egg contracts.

There are many ways to accomplish the same task. Consider safety first and be certain that the results warrant the time and expense of the procedure. These issues can be confusing and complicated to understand without medical training, which is why they should be discussed with your surgeon, whomever you choose. Review a variety of photographs, pre-operative and post-operative results. Additionally, you may be offered the opportunity to talk with patients who have had the particular procedure you are considering, to understand the healing process and expected outcomes. The discomfort involved and the time for recovery and healing are specific to your procedure and cannot be generalized here; choose a doctor who will help you understand all of these important issues, as we make a practice of doing at Annapolis Aesthetic Surgery.

In closing, when diet and exercise alone cannot restore the form that you would like to achieve with your body, if you are in good health and have reasonable expectations, then consider a skillfully, safely and artfully preformed surgical procedure to assist you in your transformation.

Our surgical center, Annapolis Aesthetic Surgery, was one of the first in Maryland to offer Smartlipo, and have been offering this service for just under three years.