With traditional tumescent liposuction the process goes as follows: Very small incisions are used to access the treatment area. Then a saline (salt water) solution is pumped into the area. This process is where the word “tumescent” comes into play, it refers to the infusion of the water into the area. The tumescent fluid does 3 things for us. It causes the fat cells to swell and plump so they are easier to break down, there is lidocaine in it to numb the area, and there is epinephrine in it to constrict the blood vessels. We then wait about 15 minutes to let the epinephrine take effect. Then a hollow tube called a cannula is inserted and moved in a to and fro motion to break up and suction out the fat cells.
Laser Liposuction works a little differently. The incisions used are smaller because of the effects of the laser. 1-2 mm incisions are made and the tumescent water is placed. With the laser we don’t have to wait the 15 minutes because the laser will seal the blood vessels so that saves us some time. So the 1 mm laser wand is inserted and the laser turned on. The laser wand shoots out blended combinations of laser light that target the water in the fat cells and literally melts the fat. So the fat cell is being melted away instead of being physically disrupted as with traditional lipo. The laser also creates heat which is beneficial because it heats the under surface of the skin causing it to tighten more than is possible with standard lipo. The laser also coagulates blood vessels so there tends to be less bruising than we get with standard SAL (suction assisted lipectomy).
Both techniques will result in swelling so that part of your recovery should be the same with each method but most patients report less bruising, pain, and down time with the laser lipo vs standard lipo.
Lee Corbett, MD
Medical Director Corbett Cosmetic Aesthetic Surgery and MediSpa