Everyone has pockets of fat that just don’t listen when we tell them to go away with various exercise and diet regimens. These stubborn fat pockets often won’t respond to anything short of a hunger strike!
It was those unresponsive pockets of fat that were the impetus behind the development of liposuction. Originally invented in France in the 1970s, liposuction wasn’t approved in the U.S. until the 80s. That original form of liposuction was a pretty violent procedure. Patients had to be under general anesthesia because the doctor had to move the cannula so aggressively under the skin to break loose the fat that was then suctioned out. As you would expect, the procedure caused serious bruising and tissue trauma; patients could still have signs of bruising months after the procedure. Plus, if too much fat was removed, the skin above could sometimes end up being loose, saggy, or dimpled.
Fortunately, liposuction has come a long way, becoming less invasive, with shorter recovery times and higher patient satisfaction. At Envision Cosmetic Surgery, one of the new techniques we utilize to improve our liposuction procedures is called Smartlipo. Smartlipo adds laser energy to the liposuction procedure.
What is Smartlipo?
Smartlipo takes liposuction and improves it with a medical-grade laser. Approved by the FDA in 2006, Smartlipo uses laser energy to break up and melt the fat cells with far less trauma to nearby blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissue. Because the fat is liquefied, it is easier to then suction out and the cannula needed can be smaller than those used for traditional liposuction. This makes for smaller incisions and easier recovery.
The second benefit of adding laser energy to liposuction is the response from the skin afterwards. After Dr. Dunkley has liquified the fat, he directs the laser energy into the dermis (the second layer of the skin below the epidermis). This heat energy under the skin makes the body respond as if it has been wounded. New collagen and elastin — the proteins responsible for skin structure and elasticity — are produced to repair the “wound.” New collagen production is particularly important because as we age the body produces one additional percent less collagen every year after the age of 20. That’s why our skin becomes saggy, loose, and more brittle as we age. But by triggering the production of new collagen and elastin, Smartlipo actually tightens the skin over the areas where the fat was removed.
Yet another benefit of Smartlipo is that the laser coagulates the blood vessels while melting the fat. This dramatically reduces the bleeding and bruising it creates afterwards.
Am I a good candidate for Smartlipo?
Like traditional liposuction, it’s important to note that Smartlipo is NOT a weight loss procedure. It’s intended to remove isolated pockets of stubborn fat that won’t respond to changes in diet or exercise. In fact, removing too much fat during a liposuction procedure can be dangerous. Dr. Dunkley prefers his patients to be within roughly 10% of their ideal weight before they have the procedure. If you are of a healthy, stable weight, yet have pockets of unwanted fat, then Smartlipo could be a great procedure for you.
Where can Smartlipo be used?
Smartlipo can be used on the abdomen, upper arms, buttocks, thighs, and neck.
What happens during my Smartlipo procedure?
Smartlipo at Envision is an outpatient procedure. The target area is first injected with a tumescent solution consisting of small amounts of epinephrine, lidocaine, and saline. This solution numbs the area and constricts the bloods vessels to minimize bleeding.
Dr. Dunkley next makes one or more tiny incisions through which he can insert the laser and then the cannula. The medical-grade laser is inserted first and is moved around so that the laser energy can directly contact the fat cells, rupturing their cells walls. This energy will also tighten the skin in the weeks following your treatment. Next, the cannula is inserted through the same incision and the liquefied fat and tumescent solution is suctioned out. Any remaining melted fat or tumescent solution is absorbed and removed by the body.
What is recovery like after Smartlipo?
The changes in recovery from traditional liposuction to Smartlipo at Envision are nothing short of dramatic. The incisions are so small they generally don’t need stitches, so there isn’t really any visible scarring. Because the laser energy melts the fat, the cannula doesn’t have to be moved about aggressively to break it up, as it does in traditional liposuction. This makes for minimal tissue trauma, far less bruising, and minimal pain. Our patients can walk and move about not long after the procedure and most don’t even require pain medication that night. Most patients can drive the next day and return to work in two days.
Is Smartlipo permanent?
The fat cells removed are removed permanently. Of course, should you put on lots of additional weight, you can build new fat cells, but if you maintain a healthy weight your results will endure.
Contact Envision Plastic Surgery today to see if you are a good candidate for Smartlipo. Don’t wait to get your dream body! Call (801) 268-2650 to schedule your consultation at our Murray office. You can also read more about Smartlipo and our other offered services on our blog!