The modern era of liposuction began a little over two decades ago when Dr. Illou, a French plastic surgeon, began to experiment with the use of long metal tubes connected to section that to be passed through relatively small incisions in order to remove songs of unwanted body fat.
Although this represented a significant improvement over previous techniques there were also significant disadvantages. First of all the recovery was very slow and the patients tended to be quite uncomfortable. There was quite a bit of swelling and bruising and often if anything other than a very small area section was carried out it was necessary for the patient to actually store her own blood for transfusion.
The first grade innovation that occurred was when several different doctors realized that the procedure could be improved significantly if you first introduced fluid into the area with a substance that constricts the blood vessels and also contains a local anesthetic. This became known as the tumescent technique of Liposuction.
The next great innovation occurred when an Italian plastic surgeon who was experimenting with ultrasound noticed that certain frequencies of ultrasound to be very effective in melting of fat.
There are several advantages to ultrasonic liposuction and particularly to Vaser liposuction. This technology makes it easier for the surgeon to treat difficult areas of fat such as the flanks and chest. There is also in general much less bruising and swelling as a result of the procedure so that recovery is easier. I have made use of Vaser lipoplasty frequently, especially when a patient desires multiple zones of fat treated in the same operation.
The next great advance in surgical fat removal is laser lipoplasty. There are two main technologies that can be used in this regard. One is known as SmartLipo® and is manufactured by the Cynosure Corporation and the other is known as SlimLipo® and is manufactured by the Palomar Corporation.
With these technologies laser energy can be used to melt the fat in certain areas and also to tighten up the deeper connective tissue so that a better overlying skin tone results with these technologies. It is possible for the surgeon to operate using very tiny incisions. This can be done very nicely under local anesthesia in the office. The recovery tends to be very quick and it is often the case that a patient is treated at the end of the week and a brief recovery over the weekend allows the patient to return to work at the start of the next week.
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