Lipoplasty: Ultrasound-Assisted Lipoplasty - Pluses and Minuses

DALLAS, Tex (May 18, 1999) — Does ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) consistently provide results superior to conventional liposuction? Will UAL eventually replace conventional liposuction, or is it best suited for specific, and limited, uses? In their ongoing assessment of UAL, which utilizes ultrasonic energy to liquefy fat before it is removed from the body, plastic surgeons are seeking to further define the role of this relatively new technology.

A major new report on UAL based on an analysis of 267 cases (1492 treated areas) that were performed from September 1996 to March 1999 was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in Dallas. The patients ranged from 17 to 75 years of age and from 97 to 275 lb.

"UAL was found to be beneficial in certain patients and selected treatment areas," says plastic surgeon George W. Commons, MD, of Palo Alto, Calif. "Compared with conventional liposuction, UAL appeared to enhance the contour in fibrous areas such as the back, flanks, male chest, groin area, and sometimes could improve the results in areas that had been previously treated." Improved skin contraction, however, was regional: the back and lower abdomen exhibited significant contraction, but thighs, buttocks, arms, and the upper abdominal exhibited final results similar to those seen with conventional liposuction.

In this review, a decrease in the incidence of complications correlated with an experienced physician and decreased UAL times. Precautions such as skin protectors, wet towels, and working from a deep level of fat to a more superficial level also decreased the possibility of skin burns and seromas.

The investigators also found that before the UAL times were decreased, patient complaints of discomfort, both in frequency and duration, were increased. With shorter UAL time, postoperative discomfort was similar to that seen with conventional liposuction.

Although the majority of patients had 5000 cc of fat or less removed, some patients underwent procedures to remove larger volumes of fat. Dr. Commons points out that meticulous medical management before, during and after liposuction, regardless of the technique or amount of fat removed, is required to ensure patient safety. This begins with careful patient selection, performing the procedure in a properly equipped operating room, and selecting a board-certified surgeon and anesthesiologist with specific knowledge and experience in liposuction or, in the case of UAL, a certificate of training by the plastic surgical UAL Task Force.

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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