Over the past year, there has been a lot of press about less-invasive liposuction alternatives. Many doctors out there claim that these treatment technologies represent the “next generation” of body contouring. As an experienced Long Island liposuction surgeon, Dr. Romanelli has kept a close eye on the results achieved with minimally-invasive techniques and has a few thoughts to share with his cosmetic surgery patients considering body contouring.
What makes these procedures different than liposuction?
Dr. Romanelli: The advantages most often promoted about these treatments are the minimally invasive nature and quicker recovery period. Procedures such as VASER LipoSelection®, Smartlipo™, and ProLipo™ all use a smaller medical device to access areas of fat compared to traditional liposuction, which uses a cannula (a hollow wand which breaks up and suctions out fat) that is 4 to 5 millimeters (less than 1/5th of an inch) in diameter. Obviously, the cannula used for a traditional procedure is still quite small.
Patients who choose these liposuction alternatives may experience a quicker recovery for a couple reasons. First, surgery using these new treatment devices is less invasive. Also, smaller areas of fat are treated with these techniques. It only makes sense that if less fat is removed, your recovery should not take as long.
Which treatment is receiving the most attention currently?
Dr. Romanelli: Right now, I’d say that Smartlipo is doing the best job of selling its procedure and the idea of laser-assisted contouring. It’s appealing for a patient to think about areas of fat being melted away with lasers. But the reality isn’t nearly as dramatic. The laser is fairly small so only smaller pockets of fat can be treated, and so for most patients, regular liposuction must be used at the same time. Also, the laser is very slow, so the procedure can take a long time.
Does SmartLipo really tighten the skin?
Dr. Romanelli: The jury is still out on that question. But at this year’s American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery meeting in San Diego the consensus was that skin tightening is an unproven claim of SmartLipo. The buzz about SmarLipo seems to be based on marketing, not science.
So who could benefit from a procedure like Smartlipo?
Dr. Romanelli: If a patient has a very small area of fat that they’d like to slim, this procedure can get results. In certain circumstances, it also may be useful to tailor the results of a full liposuction surgery or to correct asymmetry in the results. But in most cases, these results can be achieved equally well through traditional approaches in the hands of a skilled surgeon.
What do you recommend for your patients?
Dr. Romanelli: In my experience, power-assisted liposuction (PAL) provides high-quality body contouring for a wide variety of patient needs. With PAL, I am able to make precise, controlled movements with the cannula for precision sculpting. This helps to reduce swelling, bruising, and recovery time. Plus, PAL can be used to treat almost any area of the body, including the stomach, hips, thighs, lower back, and upper arms. I encourage every patient to do their own research, but at the end of the day these new treatment technologies fall a little short for many people’s cosmetic goals.
Request a free appointment with Dr. Romanelli to hear more about your liposuction options and view before & after photos of patients who chose liposuction. You can also call the office at (631) 424-3600 to schedule your consultation.