Is Liposuction Obsolete?
It seems every few months there are new options for controlling unwanted areas of fat that tend to appear on our bodies as we age. We’re all too familiar with them; post pregnancy loose skin and excess tummy fat, those love-handles that appear at the flanks that we aren’t in love with, or the little muffin-top at the top of our jeans that just doesn’t seem to budge with diet and exercise. Looking for an answer to how best to solve the problem is not always easy. There are more options than ever for reducing fat without surgery; CoolSculpting, Exilis Elite, Zerona, and newcomers on the horizon such as Vanquish, just to name a few. Are the non-surgical devices about to make traditional liposuction obsolete? Not too likely.
The non-surgical devices have come a long way in helping to reduce isolated areas of fat for the right patient. CoolSculpting is an in office procedure that isolates an area of fat that is then sandwiched between two paddles and frozen. After a one hour session, during which the patient can work on their laptop or watch a movie, the device is removed, and the area of fat that was isolated is briefly massaged. As a result, the area is reduced by about 20-25% over the next few months as the body naturally expels the destroyed fat cells. Depending on how much fat the patient had in the area treated, the result can be quite significant and noticeable. The latest approach to CoolSculpting is called Total Transformation, and multiple areas of fat are targeted and a longer- term treatment plan is devised. Patients who select this option can see quite dramatic improvement in their physique over time.
Exilis Elite is another non-surgical fat reducing device capable of reducing fat, but it does so through a radiofrequency device that is applied to the skin by a trained aesthetician who quickly moves the instrument over the area for a given period of time in a one-hour session. The treatment area feels quite warm as the device destroys fat cells and restores collagen over about a 3 month period. The Exilis Elite treatment typically require 3-5 sessions scheduled about 10 days apart for maximum results. The benefit of Exilis Elite is that it can treat the arms, knees, thighs, abdomen, face, neck and male breasts. These are areas that have been typically very difficult to treat non-surgically.
So do these non-surgical devices replace the need for liposuction? Although they are very good at reducing small areas of fat, and multiple treatments can yield excellent results, they are best for those who have small, isolated areas of fat to treat. Liposuction, while not for weight loss, can immediately reduce much larger areas of fat than the non-surgical devices are able to. The fat is reduced at one time and typically much more for can be removed than with the non-surgical devices. Improved techniques in liposuction, such as SmartLipo, SAFElipo, Body-Jet and Power-Assisted Liposuction have made the procedure better than it has ever been when performed by a plastic surgeon with particular expertise in body contouring. There tends to be less downtime, with much quicker recovery than was previously possible. Techniques like SmartLipo also offer the benefit of tightening the skin. Body-Jet allows the surgeon to harvest fat cells, which may be harvested to use for fat transfer to the face or other areas of the body where fat may be lacking. Although the non-surgical fat treatments are great for select patients, it is unlikely that they will replace liposuction any time soon.
If you are interested in learning more about options for body contouring, please contact Dr. Ringler today at 616.328.8800 to schedule a complimentary consultation.