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  • There is a new liposuction technique that has just been approved by the Food And Drug Administration that promises to melt fat in a less invasive manner, bring about results within as short as a week, and result in less downtime and less side effects than traditional liposuction. Sounds too good? This new laser-assisted liposuction technique for fat removal is called Laser Body Sculpting and is also being referred to as SmartLipo or “Lunch Time Liposuction” due to the quick 45-60 minute surgery time. Ideal for treating small areas of the face, chin, neck, arms, breasts (gynecomastia), and areas of loose and flabby skin, SmartLipo melts away fat using a high powered laser. A very small cannula (tube) that is approximately 1.0-2.0 millimeters in diameter contains a laser fiber that is inserted into the skin. The cannula is moved back and forth, delivering the laser’s energy to the fat cells, causing them to rupture and easily drain away. As the laser tip comes in contact with the fat cells, the tip literally melts the fat. The laser energy also interacts with the dermis and results in collagen shrinkage – meaning it creates a desirable tightening effect on the area. The SmartLipo laser causes the membranes of the adipose cells (the main storage for fat in the body) to break down, transforming them into an oily substance that is absorbed and eliminated in a natural manner. Because the fat is turned to liquid instead of being suctioned in solid form, using the SmartLipo laser means less blood and trauma, faster recovery, and quicker results with less side effects compared to more aggressive traditional liposuction techniques. Due to the cannula’s small size, Smartlipo can be performed under local anesthesia. After the treatment, the patient will need to wear a compression garment for several days to several weeks, depending on the body area being treated.

    SmartLipo’s manufacturer Cynosure claims that results can be seen as soon as a week with continued improvement over several months. “There’s an immediate change right away,” said Coronado, California plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Schafer in a separate interview on 10news.com. Patient Alice Schultz says her hips and stomach seem tighter just hours after her surgery.

    SmartLipo claims that this laser- assisted liposuction is safer for the patients because less bleeding and anesthetic drugs are used and because it doesn’t cause destruction of tissues as it could happen with a traditional liposuction. One treatment is usually recommended and results can be seen immediately with continued improvement over several months.

    On the Make Me Heal Liposuction Message Board doctors and patients alike have discussed this new technique. Dr Todd K. Malan from Phoenix, Arizona, who was selected to be one of the first surgeons to use SmartLipo in the US, is very happy with the results achieved with his patients, and proudly promotes this device:

    Like traditional Liposuction maximum results can take 3-6 months. However unlike traditional Lipo or Vaser you do see a remarkable immediate effect. We are able to perform Smartlipo in office with a 1mm incision that doesn’t even need to be sutured and the after procedure pain is no worse than you would experience from a workout at the Gym. Best of all in nearly all cases no bruising or swelling so it os great for areas that aren’t hidden by clothing. I still perfom traditional Lipo and Vaser but Smartlipo is a better option for most patients.”

    “It’s something that really is going to change liposuction,” added Schafer. Schafer is the first approved physician in the West Coast to use SmartLipo. “This is the first thing I am really excited about. It’s really going to make a significant change in the results,” said Schafer.

    But not all doctors share the same enthusiasm. Plastic surgeon Dr. John LoMonaco of Houston Texas sounded caution, referring to a study by Dr. Prado and colleagues from Chile in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (118:1032, 2006), where SmartLipo has been in use since 2004.

    “They used SmartLipo on one side, standard liposuction on the other side of 25 patients and saw less pain in the laser-treated side, but no differences in recovery, no decrease in swelling and bruising, and no difference in the quality of the result.” Dr. LoMonaco adds “The photos looked the same on both sides at 11 and 15 days, and also at 11 months. They did find that the procedure took longer, and importantly found high levels of free fatty acids in the tissue left over from the ruptured fat cells from the laser treated sides which they call a “major problem.” Dr. Lomanco also says that “Dr. Prado was critical of the “sumptuous marketing” by the company in his country and stated that “The use of any prototype machine in humans should follow the principle of research before commerce.”

    It may be too early to judge whether SmartLipo is really as great as its claims say, but it is surely a promising innovation that gives hope for having plastic surgery with great results and minimal side effects. As more and more patients try this new technique, Make Me Heal will offer more of such testimonials.

    There are only 15 clinics in the United States offering SmartLipo at this time, although the procedure was developed in Italy and has been performed in numerous clinics throughout Europe, South America, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

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