How Safe Is Laser Liposuction?

If you suffer from stubborn pockets of fat that just won't go away no matter how much you diet and exercise, you've probably considered liposuction. In recent years, new liposuction techniques that utilize laser technology are growing more and more popular, but is this relatively new procedure safe?

About Laser Liposuction

During laser liposuction, small lasers liquefy pockets of unwanted fat before it's vacuumed out of the body through small tubes. The procedure removes the fat cells themselves, ensuring that they can never grow back, resulting in permanent fat loss.

Laser vs. Traditional Liposuction

The advantage of laser liposuction is that it requires only small incisions, no sutures, and only local anesthesia as opposed to the general anesthesia traditional liposuction usually requires. Performing the procedure under a local anesthetic reduces some of the health risks and costs that traditional liposuction can incur. The laser can also seal blood vessels after liquefying the fat, minimizing the swelling, bleeding, and bruising caused by the procedure.

Side Effects

Laser liposuction patients may experience bruising and bleeding, burning or numbness, swelling, or possibly even an infection. Doctors often recommend that patients wear a compression garment to speed up the healing process and stay home from work for at least a day or two after the procedure.

Long-Term Results

It can take up to 6 months for your skin to fully tighten and settle into its new shape. Because the procedure removes actual fat cells that won't regenerate, those fatty deposits will not come back even if you gain weight in other areas. However, maintaining a consistent weight after the procedure will help you keep the desired shape.

Good Candidates

Good candidates for laser liposuction are similar to those for traditional liposuction. They should be in overall good health, be within 25 pounds of their ideal weight, and have tried to tackle their problem areas with diet and exercise before turning to liposuction.

The Bottom Line

Laser liposuction offers several advantages to traditional liposuction.  The American Society of Plastic Surgery warns that this procedure is still relatively new, so it's possible that long-term side effects may still be unknown. However, it is an FDA-approved procedure that appears to have fewer risks than traditional liposuction, since it does not require large incisions or general anesthesia. Discuss your options with a plastic surgeon who can make the best recommendation for your body and goals.

Sources: "Laser and Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction." American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Web. 2010.