The world of body contouring these days is divided between surgical versus nonsurgical procedures. Both approaches offer some obvious advantages and drawbacks, so ultimately the decision to pursue one or the other comes down to your physical condition and the results you desire.
Within those 2 broad categories, there are multiple options, including an array of liposuction techniques and nonsurgical fat reduction procedures. The energy sources used in the treatments is really what separates the various procedures. To illustrate that point, let's take a look at VASERlipo and Liposonix, which both use ultrasonic energy to reduce fat in various areas of the body.
Generally, surgeons agree that the best candidates for either treatment share certain physical characteristics, such as being at or near their ideal weight. Also important: elasticity in the skin. "Good skin tone is necessary for the skin to 'bounce back' after fat is removed," says Dr. Mark Jewell, a board-certified plastic surgeon and liposuction specialist in Eugene, OR. "Loose skin or skin with stretch marks will not re-tighten after liposuction."
Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction (UAL) uses heat to essentially "melt" fat deposits, turning them into a liquid that can be suctioned without vigorously breaking it up.
VASERlipo offers a few main benefits over traditional liposuction:
Because the ultrasound waves melt the fat deposits, they can be extracted with less force than manual liposuction. The gentler procedure results in less trauma to the surrounding tissue, meaning less bruising and soreness. The recovery is shorter than traditional liposuction, without sacrificing the effectiveness of the treatment.
VASERlipo can remove large amounts of stored fat, but is also effective for areas where more precision is needed. Common treatment areas include the midsection, "love handles," and the neck, along with male breast tissue. In fact, ultrasonic liposuction is preferred for areas with fibrous tissue — such as male chests — because it can be more cumbersome to get a good result with other types of liposuction.
The heat generated by the ultrasonic energy that's breaking down the fat has an ancillary benefit: smoother skin. That's because it triggers the production of new collagen, even in areas such as the arms and neck.
An increasing number of nonsurgical fat reduction treatments are now available and are popular among patients who either don't need liposuction or aren't able to take time off to recover. The trade-off is that Liposonix and other nonsurgical fat reduction procedures create less dramatic results, and they cannot offer the precision and control of liposuction, either.
That said, treatments like Liposonix have their own appeal:
The cost of Liposonix compared to surgical liposuction is one of its primary benefits. It's not possible to quote specific prices because a number of variables are involved, but on average Liposonix is about half the cost of liposuction.
A Liposonix treatment for the abdomen or love handles takes about an hour, after which the patient can immediately return to work or other daily activities.
Unlike similar procedures that use radiofrequency or laser energy, Liposonix targets fatty tissue and doesn't damage the surrounding tissue.
The best way to determine if you're best suited for surgical liposuction or nonsurgical fat reduction is to consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon and describe your concerns and what you'd like to achieve.