Back in about 1996, when I was doing my Plastic Surgery Residency, Ultra Sonic Liposuction was just hitting the scene and was all the rave.
In this technique, a solid probe is inserted into the fatty area to be treated. Ultra Sound waves are transmitted down the probe and pass into the fatty tissue. The physics are sort of complicated but in the end, the sound waves cause the fat cells to implode by increasing the pressure surronding the fat cell. Thus, the fat is broken down and then can be aspirated more easily using standard liposuction equipment.
The advantages of Ultrasonic Liposuction are the ability to treat large volumes of fat with minimal blood loss, less bruising, and possible skin retraction. The disadvantages stem from the heat the solid probe generates. The ultrasound waves make the probe extremely hot which necessitates larger incisions to keep from burning the skin edges and if the end of the probe hits the under surface of the skin it can burn a hole in the skin. These issues are not present with typical liposuction.
Ultrasonic Suction is still used but it’s popularity has declined substantially.
Lee Corbett, MD