Problems with laser-liposuction: who’s the Smart one now?

Over the last few months, I have seen an alarming increase in the number of patients that come in for a second opinion about poorly-performed liposuction (done elsewhere, I might add.) All of these casse have been performed with new high-tech liposuction machines, either laser-assisted (like the SmartLipo) or ultrasonic (like the VASER).

I’ve seen major skin laxity, uneven liposuction, and obvious over-resection of fat leaving major divots and dents. Many of these problems are very difficult to fix, even with fat grafting techniques.

Here’s a few observations:

1. All of these cases were performed by physicians and surgeons operating way outside of their specialty. They were not done by plastic surgeons or dermatologists, who are trained during residency in this technique.

2. In the majority of these patients, physical examination of the patient revealed crummy skin tone and poorly elasticized skin. In other words, since this skin won’t contract like we want it to after liposuction, it’s completely predictable that the post-op results will be poor, with floppy, deflated areas, and a worsened appearance. A surgeon with any significant training or experience in liposuction would have recognized this – and would have avoided performing liposuction in these patients. It’s the wrong tool for the job!

3. All of these patients were preoperatively told by their physicians, “This new wonder lipo machine will tighten your skin”.

4. All of these patients now say, “Skin tightening clearly did not happen…now I look worse.”

5. None of these patients have an easy fix for their issues. All will require complex and expensive revisional surgery.

Lessons:

A fancy hammer does not a good carpenter make. Any doctor can buy (or rent) a fancy lipo machine.

There is, as yet, no reliable scientific evidence that laser-assisted liposuction:
a) tightens the skin, or
b) works better than standard liposuction.
Any claims to the contrary are “spin” or marketing hype; consider the source and what they’re selling.

That being said, the problems seen here were not caused by the type of liposuction machine – but by the doofus using it! While the concept of liposuction is easy, getting excellent results with liposuction takes significant skill.

Please be careful about whom you choose to perform your liposuction. Even if it’s performed in an office setting, with local anesthesia, liposuction surgery is still SURGERY. Training, experience and credentials matter.

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