Laser lipo is a liposuction technique for removing fat from the body. As seen in this article from the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Journal, it’s not without its risks. Since the article is not available without a subscription you can read my synopsis below.
How does laser lipo compare to traditional liposuction
Liposuction uses a long metal tube (the cannula), connected to suction that and removes fat from stubborn areas in the neck, arms, abdomen or hips. Traditional liposuction requires 2 steps: 1) a fluid consisting of epinephrine is injected into the fatty tissues first. This tightens blood vessels so that when you perform the second step, 2) liposuction, there’s minimal blood loss. Laser lipo requires 3 steps: 1) injection of the epinephrine containing fluid, 2) melting of the fat using the laser and finally 3) sucking out the fat.
The laser is very powerful and requires training to avoid burning of the skin and extensive scarring. The problem is that many doctors using laser lipo in their office may be the least trained in liposuction techniques. Often times, the doctors that are doing laser lipo in their office, away from the oversight of health regulations found in hospitals, surgery centers or other accredited operating rooms, are not trained in cosmetic surgery. They could be ER doctors or orthopedic surgeons!
Risk of complications
Complications can occur in any procedure by any doctor. But laser lipo is a very powerful machine that can result in a complication without much effort. This is especially in an issue in doctors without any background in cosmetic training.
The laser can cause collagen to overly contract, producing a wrinkled appearance and also cause third degree burns. The issue is not only that laser lipo has the potential to cause complications. The issue is that in untrained hands, the doctor may treat the patient with laser lipo rather than the appropriate procedure. Why? Because they only have a laser lipo machine and not the experience to do the right procedure.
This brings to mind the quote, “When all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail!” The other big problem with these types of complications when caused by an untrained doctor is that these doctors receive minimal training in how to do the procedure and NO TRAINING in how to take care of complications. Rather than continuing on my soap box, below are some pictures that are worth a thousand words!
Treating a “problem” with the wrong operation
The photo above is a before and after laser lipo procedure to the neck as performed by an orthopedic surgeon. The wrinkles to the neck are due to the laser heat contraction of collagen in the neck skin. The problem is that this patient didn’t have any fat to remove. He should receive a necklift (removal of skin) but an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t have the training to perform a necklift.
Before and after laser lipo by the same orthopedic surgeon. This person had no fat so laser lipo wasn’t the appropriate technique. At the most, maybe this patient needed muscle tightening of the abdomen but since the doctor didn’t know how to do the right procedure, he did the only procedure he could offer. Yes, those are 3rd degree burns of the abdomen from the inside-out!
Before and after photos of the abdomen after laser lipo as performed by an ER doctor. I’m not sure what was wrong with her abdomen in the first place but after laser lipo, she now has divots and other contour deformities to the abdomen.
As always, seek out an appropriately trained surgeon for laser lipo, lipo or any cosmetic procedure. Your appearance depends on it!