Liposuction is one of the most common and popular plastic surgeries. As the name suggests, it is a procedure which remove subcutaneous fat tissue with via suction. Even though most people know what liposuction is, there are many who do not know that there are many different types of liposuction, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
General procedure of liposuction
In general, all liposuction procedures begin with a similar procedure. Tumescent fluid consisting of saline, a local anaesthetic agent and a blood vessel constricting drug is infiltrated into the tissue to reduce pain, blood loss and also to protect the overlying skin from any heat energy generated. Next, the fat is then prepared for suction. At this point, the technique diverges into the different types of liposuction. Finally, fragmented or emulsified fatty tissue are removed from the body via a suction cannula before closing any incisions made. The removed fat is usually discarded but can also be purified and grafted into other parts of the body like the breasts or buttocks to create volume if desired.
What are the different types of liposuction?
Different liposuction techniques are named according to the mode of action on the fat that is employed by different machines/probes. These are techniques used to prepare the fat and facilitate the suction removal later in the procedure. Some approaches mechanically break down the fat into smaller fragments, while others emulsify the fat into small liquid droplets that are easy to remove via suction.
- Power-assisted liposuction
Power assisted liposuction utilizes a rapid oscillating movement of the liposuction cannula. A machine generates this reciprocating movement at the cannula at 4000 – 6000 cycles per minute. The oscillation prepares the fat by detaching them from the other tissues in the region, while also breaking them up into smaller fragments, making them easier to extract via suction.
- Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction/VASER liposuction
Also known by the trade name VASER (Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance) liposuction, ultrasonic-assisted liposuction uses ultrasound waves to disintegrate fatty tissue. The ultrasound acts on the fat via 2 different mechanisms: direct breaking up of fat tissue via mechanical action, as well as emulsification of fat into small liquid droplets that can be easily suctioned out. ultrasonic-assisted/VASER liposuction is one of the most popular on the market as it is considered one of the least invasive approaches to liposuction, which leaves surrounding tissue undisturbed. In addition, heat generated from the ultrasound can help to promote skin contraction. This, together with the lower invasiveness of the procedure, makes the recovery from ultrasonic-assisted/VASER liposuction much smoother than other approaches.
- Laser-assisted liposuction
As the name suggests, laser-assisted liposuction utilises laser energy to emulsify fatty tissue before suctioning the fat out. The laser energy is delivered via an optical fibre that is inserted into the fatty tissue. Typically, the cannula used in laser-assisted liposuction is smaller than those used in other approaches. Hence, many surgeons tend to prefer this approach for certain confined regions on the body such as the chin, jowls and other regions on the face. Also, the laser used in the procedure can have the additional effect of stimulating collagen production, which may help tighten the skin and reduce sagging after the procedure.
Advantages and disadvantages for the different types of liposuction.
|Type of liposuction||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Power-assisted Liposuction||– Able to quickly remove large volumes of fat.
– Maximum volume of that can be removed per session is larger than other approaches
|– No direct skin tightening from heat
|Ultrasound-assisted Liposuction||– Effective in areas with thicker skin/ more fibrous tissue such as the neck and back.
– Less invasive
– Ultrasound stimulates skin tightening processes
|– Slightly longer procedure as the ultrasound requires time to emulsify the fat
– Ultrasound device generates heat, which can cause burns if not handled well
|Laser-assisted Liposuction||– Small cannula makes it easier to perform in confined regions like the face
– Useful in small, precise sculpting
– Laser can stimulate collagen production, reducing sagging post-procedure.
– Less invasive
|– Small cannula limits the suction speed, leading to a longer procedure
– Laser can cause burns if not handled well.
Liposuction has been around for a long time, and advances in technology has both diversified and improved on the techniques used. Each type of liposuction has its own strengths and weaknesses and are hence suitable for different situations. Before committing, however, you should always consult a skilled and experienced surgeon for your liposuction procedure. He will give you professional advice on the approach that best suit your needs.