The surgical removal of fat from the body has a simple name: liposuction. NYC-based plastic surgeon Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh has performed the procedure thousands of times, performed academic research, and presented his work at plastic surgery meetings on reducing fat on both women and men over the years. In that time, he has also seen the development of new technologies and techniques, making liposuction a procedure that is anything but simple. With numerous possible variations unavailable to previous generations, the procedure can be customized to suit a patient’s unique needs, from large-scale alteration of body contours to removing key pockets to reveal the sculpted muscles below.
Given the surgery’s increasing popularity—it jumped six percent from 2015 to 2016 in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ most recently published statistics—it’s important for people considering the procedure to understand what the multiple options mean for them.
First, know that all liposuction has a common foundation. In all cases, the fat must be loosened or separated prior to removal. Also, patients should be aware that fat-reduction surgery is for cosmetic purposes only—not efforts to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. In fact, women and men who want to be good candidates for liposuction should be near their ideal weight and maintain diet and exercise regimens that will encourage the results of their procedure to last.
The tumescent technique involves the plastic surgeon injecting a significant amount of solution into the fat, making it swollen and firm. The solution also contains a diluted anesthetic that dulls sensation, as well as constricts blood vessels to minimize bleeding during and after the procedure—leading to less bruising. Once the fat is tumescent, the plastic surgeon uses a wand, known as a cannula, to break up and then suction out the unwanted tissue.
The cannula motion necessary for breaking up fat may be manually applied by the surgeon, or it may be driven mechanically in a technique known as power-assisted liposuction. This can make for a faster procedure that requires less physical exertion on the part of the surgeon, leading to less patient trauma and faster recovery times.
Using light energy to break up fat cells is one alternative to traditional liposuction, whether the surgeon uses manual or mechanical force. In this case, the laser provides the necessary energy, making the procedure a minimally invasive one. Again, this can result in fewer complications and a shorter recovery period.
The sound wave-based energy of ultrasound can disrupt fat cells, preparing them to be suctioned out. This technique can target fat on two levels: the deep fat typically addressed by liposuction, and the shallow fat that sits beneath the skin and obscures muscle definition.
Sterile saline can be used to circulate in the targeted area, subjecting fat cells to a current that loosens them for removal. Because this process is so gentle, a good number of the cells are generally unharmed, making them ideal for processing and reinjection as part of a fat transfer procedure to add volume elsewhere on the body, where it’s wanted more. Dr. Alizadeh uses the only FDA-approved water-based liposuction technology suited for atraumatic fat harvest and fat grafting called HydraSolve®.
While not considered liposuction, there are several nonsurgical fat-reduction treatments that can address problem areas and pockets of isolated fat. The injectable Kybella® is FDA approved specifically for impacting a double chin, using deoxycholic acid to disrupt unwanted fat cells and start the process to send them out of the body naturally. Also, ultrasound—used in some liposuction techniques—can be used to selectively target fatty tissue without the need for surgery. Cooling the fat down to a temperature that damages it, while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed, is another strategy.
To learn more about the different options available for fat reduction, including any of several techniques developed to improve liposuction, contact NYC-based, board-certified Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh by sending a message online or calling his Cosmoplastic Surgery offices in Manhattan and Westchester (212.348.0100) or Long Island (516.439.5010). Dr. Alizadeh uses all of the various types of lipo techniques described here and has developed an approach to liposculpture based on cutting-edge technology—such as HydraSolve®—to take fat cells from the body and use them to sculpt, refine, or correct areas of scarring, cellulite, or contour deformity in a procedure he calls NaturaFill™.