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What is smart or laser lipo? Who is qualified to do it?

Q:

Is smart lipo/laser or laser lipo better than traditional liposuction?  What credentials should I be looking for in my doctor if I was interested in this procedure?

A:

Both of these are simply a machine utilizing a Laser to help break up the fat as an aid in doing Liposuction.  Neither are better or worse than traditional Liposuction. The important consideration in deciding who should do Liposuction is the surgeon doing the procedure and their experience.  Many of the companies who sell the Laser Liposuction machines are selling them to anyone who will pay for them.  Consequently, many people doing these procedures have little to no surgical experience.  No matter how you do Liposuction, there are risks to the procedure.  Unless you are having a very small area liposuctioned, you should have it done in a certified facility.  Generally, a very safe choice is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, since they are trained surgeons and equipped to handle any unforeseen problems; also, they are forbidden by their society from doing this type of surgery in anything but a certified facility.  Ask what their experience is with this procedure and the specific technique they use.

A:

Hi Lashel, 

Despite the hype, to date there has not been a paper published that has shown objectively that laser lipo/slim lipo/smart lipo/cool lipo, etc. has any benefit over traditional liposuction.  The most important thing to consider is your physician's qualifications.  Board certified plastic surgeons have specialized training and credentialing in liposuction and body contouring.  We also perform the spectrum of procedures for body contouring so our perspective is unique. Finally, you need to be at ease and comfortable with your plastic surgeon.

A:

Liposuction and who is qualified to perform this procedure is a common question that we as plastic surgeons field in our normal practice.  On its surface, liposuction seems like a simple procedure, right?  And the short answer is that liposuction is a simple, low complication procedure, but only in the hands of a properly trained surgeon. 

The key to understanding why it is important to seek a board certified surgeon is to realize that liposuction is only a tool.  Just because you can use a saw does not make you a master carpenter.  More judgment and understanding than most people understand or realize goes into the formulation of an individual surgical plan to give you the best result possible.  Most board certified plastic surgeons have invested at least a decade of study and training focused on surgical techniques and treatment.  This is your best assurance that you will have a safe and satisfying surgical outcome.

Getting back to Smart Lipo/Laser Lipo, there are three types of invasive liposuction techniques: Laser, Ultrasonic, and Water assisted.  Because of the heat that can be generated with the laser assisted technique (Smart Lipo), some of us feel that it can help with secondary tightening of the skin, especially on the abdomen, neck, and thighs.  It seems to work best on cases of mild to moderate skin laxity and small to moderate fat excess.  It is not a good technique for large areas.  Larger areas are best handled by the ultrasonic (VASER) or water assisted (Body-Jet) systems.

Good luck with your decision and be sure that all of your options including risks and complications are thoroughly explained to you.

Best Regards,

KC

Kirk Churukian, M.D. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
Los Gatos, CA

A:

All liposuction is surgery, so the Smartest lipo is the one done by a qualified surgeon.  A lot of effort has gone into branding liposuction procedures based on lasers and other technologies but a recent survey of plastic surgeons revealed that only about 4% saw any advantage to using laser with lipo such as Smart lipo and the other brands.  Remember that the addition of laser technology adds some risk.  Just as important to your safety as choosing the right plastic surgeon is making sure that the procedure will be done in a accredited surgical facility.

Richard A. Baxter, M.D. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
Mountlake Terrace, WA

A:

Getting good results in liposuction is not related to the machine used, it's related to the surgeon who is using the machine!  For example, if you had the paintbrush that formerly belonged to Leonardo da Vinci, would you suddenly paint a masterpiece?  Probably not.

There are no scientific studies that have been able to show a significant improvement in results with laser-assisted liposuction, or water-jet liposuction, or any other type of liposuction.  They all work about the same.  The only difference is the tremendous marketing spin that has been applied to the laser machines by the companies that manufacture and sell them.

Find a board-certified plastic surgeon that does a lot of liposuction, and study their before and after photos.  Have realistic expectations.  Find out if your skin elasticity is suitable for the procedure ....... liposuction doesn't predictably tighten skin.

All the best,

Thomas G. S. Fiala, M.D. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
Altamonte Springs, FL

A:

There are many different brands of laser lipo: SmartLipo, SLIM Lipo, and Lipotherme, but the core technology and core idea is the same - that a laser is used to melt fat, shatter fat cells, and to tighten skin.  There is no scientific evidence to show that one machine is better than another. 

In our practice, we do about ten laser liposuctions for every one traditional lipo.  Patients are asking for laser lipo more often because it can be done awake, with minimal down time and recovery time.  Laser liposuction is done with little needle holes, which fade over time and create smooth and firm looking results.

If you are interested in plastic surgery, you should go to a plastic surgeon.  The credentials you want to look for are “Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery”. 

http://www.plasticsurgeondc.com/

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