Laser-assisted liposuction, which is commonly known as Smartlipo, is a minimally invasive procedure for the removal of localized fat deposits on the face and body, and other delicate areas that require a more gentle approach. Traditional liposuction is better suited for the removal of large areas of fat and typically requires additional surgery to get rid of excess skin. Because Smartlipo breaks down fat cells and tightens tissues by tissue coagulation, there is generally no excess skin. In addition, Smartlipo coagulates blood vessels resulting in less bleeding and bruising than traditional liposuction, which improves the overall healing time relative to traditional liposuction. A key difference between Smartlipo and traditional liposuction is the size of the incisions needed for the procedures: tiny incisions for Smartlipo that do not require sutures and larger incisions for traditional liposuction that require sutures. Unlike traditional liposuction, which utilizes general anesthesia, Smartlipo utilizes local anesthesia.
Pros and Cons of Smartlipo
In addition to considering the size of the area to be treated when deciding between traditional liposuction versus Smartlipo, you should also consider that the invasive nature of traditional liposuction. Traditional liposuction is not ideal for delicate body parts, it leaves large scars, and the recovery time is longer. Smartlipo is a better option than traditional liposuction if you are within about 25 pounds of your target weight, you are physically fit, and you have a small area of fat that you can’t get rid of. The risks associated with Smartlipo are an infection at the incision site and/or hematoma, minor scarring, being burned by the laser, and cosmetic issues including asymmetrical results.
Recovery from Smartlipo
Immediately following the Smartlipo procedure you may experience some numbness that can last for as long as 36 hours. You should expect blood-tinged anesthetic fluid to drain from the incision sites. Once the area
is wrapped in compression bandages, the drainage will likely increase and the swelling should go down after about 1 week. You may feel light-headed and dizzy when you remove the compression bandages. If this occurs you sit down immediately and take it slowly to allow your blood flow to normalize. Because the effect of the local anesthetic can last for as long as 36 hours, you may not experience pain immediately following the procedure. However, once the anesthetic wears off Tylenol should be sufficient to combat the pain. You doctor will likely suggest that you take it easy for at least 2 days following your surgery before resuming your normal activities. Typically, you can begin an exercise regimen 1 week after the procedure, but you should remember to take is slowly at first. Although it is acceptable to take a shower, swimming and hot tubs should be avoided until the incision sites scab over completely.