Other Associated Terms: SmartLipo™, Laser Lipolysis, Laser Liposuction, Liposuction Laser, LaserBodySculpting.
SmartLipo™ is designed to remove excess fat and can be a stand alone procedure or used in conjunction with standard liposuction. The technique incorporates advanced technology into more traditional liposuction procedures. FDA approved in 2006, SmartLipo™ uses tiny cannulas (tubes) that are inserted into small incisions beneath your skin, targeting specific deposits of fat.
A laser fiber is attached to the cannula which breaks down the fat cells through heat while shrinking collagen. The liquefied fat is then drained away. Using this less invasive approach, SmartLipo™ involves less pain, bruising and bleeding than traditional liposuction techniques.
Side effects will also be significantly reduced, since the procedure can be performed without using general anesthesia. SmartLipo™, however, is designed for those who wish to address small fat deposits and who are already close to their normal body weight. Therefore, Smartlipo™ is indicated for treating small pockets of fat located in the abdomen, arms neck, face, breasts, areas of flabby, loose skin and cellulite affected areas. In the United States, SmartLipo™ procedures are also beginning to appear at laser clinics and medical spas as a more effective alternative to LipoDissolve™ and VelaShape™.
The main benefit of Smartlipo™ is its’ less invasive approach compared to standard liposuction. The cannula (tube through which the fat is drained) is smaller (1 mm) than that which is used in a typical liposuction (3-6 mm). Laser technology, which is employed in the procedure, seals the cut blood vessels. The benefit of this is that there is less swelling and bruising and faster healing is promoted with less pain than the standard suction method.
There is also the added benefit of later collagen growth that will occur under the skin. Collagen tends to break down as we age which can cause wrinkles and gives us an older, more tired look. The promotion of collagen growth with SmartLipo™ will help provide a more youthful, tighter skin appearance. It should also be noted that since SmartLipo™ actually removes fat cells, further weight gain will not occur at the treatment site.
Smartlipo™ is a procedure that has been tested successfully in European, South American and Asian countries prior to its FDA approval in 2006.
The things you should consider prior to consultation are; How is your health? Before seeking any treatment, you should be in good health both physically and psychologically. You also be aware that SmartLipo™ is not designed to treat obesity through weight loss – you should ideally be within 30 pounds of normal body weight when seeking this treatment.
The purpose of SmartLipo™ is to contour your body by removing excess fat pockets that won’t respond to exercise or diet. Also, you should not be pregnant, breast feeding or have any medical issues such as an infection, kidney, liver and/or heart disease.
Prior to the procedure, the surgeon will evaluate the treatment area in order to determine the best approach to the fat removal. As the treatment begins, the doctor will clean the area with a disinfectant and apply a local anesthetic and/or give an oral pain killer. This is so the patient will be able to safely stand before the completion of the procedure and the doctor can check balance and symmetry prior to concluding the treatment.
After the anesthetic has taken effect, one to several small incisions are made in the skin and a laser-tipped cannula (tube) is inserted. The surgeon will then use a back and forth movement that will deliver laser heat energy to liquefy and drain fat cells.
The fiber-optic cannula used will not only liquefy fat cells, but it will also coagulates the ends of the blood vessels – so bleeding is reduced after the removal of the laser. The length of the procedure is usually from 45 minutes to 1 hour for each treatment area. Generally, only one treatment is needed with results that can be seen as soon as one week with continuing improvement extending over several months.
One of the advantages of SmartLipo™ is the short recovery time compared to more surgically invasive procedures. Although patients will wear a surgical compression under-garment for up to several weeks after treatment, they are usually able to get around after two or three days. The surgical under-garment is designed to collapse tunnels that the cannula has made in the fatty areas.
This will help provide a slimmer, more contoured appearance, but there will be some drainage as a result. This should resolve itself in 2-3 days. Your doctor can also provide a prescription for pain management should you experience any discomfort. A post-op appointment will be scheduled for 4-5 days later, during which time your incisions should be mostly closed.
Some restrictions will apply, such as refraining from strenuous exercise or not using a hot tub for a couple of weeks following the procedure. Normal activity levels can gradually be resumed, though rest is also recommended. Further weight gain in the treated areas will not occur, since adults don’t produce new fat cells.
Risks Associated with SmartLipo™
As with any procedure, there are some risks associated with SmartLipo™. Some discomfort can exist for 3-4 weeks following the procedure while bruising usually clears up in 2-3 weeks. General swelling will start to fade in 2 weeks, but some residual swelling may last up to 3-4 months. Lumps and bumps can be from lymphatic system damage and can take several months to dissipate.
The time frames can be extended if there is no massaging after the surgery. Any numbness in the treated areas can last several months. There can also be some irregularities in contours caused by an incorrect amount of fat removed. Your doctor should evaluate this, should it occur.
Infection is also a possibility and can be treated with antibiotics. Some patients may also experience sagging skin, discoloration or slight burns due to the laser heat. This is why it’s important to verify the experience level of your doctor with SmartLipo™ treatments. You should also be careful to follow any instructions that are given to you by your doctor either before or after the procedure.
The average cost for abdominal SmartLipo™ is $5375. This will vary, and depends on the experience of the doctor and the region (city/state) where the procedure is performed. Miscellaneous fees associated with the procedure will include anesthesia, facility fees and other charges. It’s important that you discuss the total costs with your doctor prior to treatment.
Things to Discuss with Your Doctor During Your Consultation
Before you make a decision regarding any cosmetic procedure, you should first have a consultation with your doctor to discuss any questions regarding your treatment.
Questions to ask your doctor should include; Are my expectations realistic? How will the procedure be performed? Where will it be performed (is the facility accredited)? What are my anesthesia options? What is the doctor’s experience in performing this procedure (how many has he or she performed in the past year)? What are the risks involved and what percentage of patients have experienced complications? What results can I expect? What can I expect during recovery? How much does the entire procedure cost (including all miscellaneous expenses)? You should also view numerous before and after photos of patients.
Since most medical insurance will not cover this procedure, you may wish to discuss financing options with your doctor.