Summary: Both liposuction and lipofilling are used for body sculpting; yet, despite their similar names, the procedures are actually total opposites. What’s the difference, and how can each contribute to achieving better body contours?
The Process of Liposuction
Liposuction is the permanent removal of fat cells through the use of gentle suction, carefully sculpting away fatty deposits to reveal smoother, slimmer lines. Lipo is ideal for addressing the problem spots that are notoriously resistant to diet and exercise, like the love handles or inner thighs. It’s also common to incorporate liposuction with additional procedures and surgeries; for example, abdominoplasty may include lipo for fine-tuning abdominal curves in addition to the primary surgery.
Before removal, the fatty deposits need to be broken apart so fat cells become looser. This helps facilitate the withdrawal process, making it easier to access the target areas without excessive trauma to the surrounding tissues. There are several ways this can be accomplished:
- Tumescent Lipo: An injection of sterile fluid that includes a local anesthetic as well as a vasoconstrictor, tumescent solution helps loosen fat cells as well as minimize bleeding while ensuring the patient feels comfortable throughout surgery and into recovery.
- Ultrasonic-Assisted Lipo: After saturation with tumescent fluid, fat cells are emulsified using targeted ultrasonic waves before withdrawal using suction.
- Laser Liposuction: A special laser fiber is inserted to liquefy fat cells, while the laser energy cauterizes nearby blood vessels to minimize bleeding. Suction is again used to remove the fat cells.
There are other methods as well, but these are the three primary approaches toward liposuction. Although lipo is ideal for fine-tuning the body, it should not be mistaken for a weight loss surgery. The purpose of liposuction is cosmetic rather than medical in nature, and any weight loss that occurs as a result of the surgery is a byproduct rather than a goal.
How Lipofilling Works
Lipofilling is really just another word for fat transfer; as such, the procedure actually incorporates liposuction as part of total process. During lipofilling, the fat cells are first withdrawn via liposuction. Next, the surgeon processes them to remove impurities and ensure viability before injecting them into the target area. Lipofilling can be beneficial in nearly any area of the face or body that could benefit from synthetic dermal fillers, such as to enhance the lips or minimize nasolabial folds. In higher volume applications, lipofilling may be used to increase breast size or for buttocks augmentation. In fact, lipofilling can even be used during revision liposuction to help ensure smoother contours after uneven results from a former surgery.
At every step of the process, caution must be taken to ensure the integrity of the transferred cells. This means using only tumescent liposuction during the collection process (laser and ultrasonic lipo destroy the cells rather than preserve them), and using a wide enough cannula during the insertion stage to prevent unnecessary fat cell compression.
Taking a Combination Approach
Liposuction and lipofilling actually work very well together, and not just because one is essential for accomplishing the other. Each procedure offers a type of reshaping, either through addition or subtraction, that really can’t be accomplished through traditional surgery alone. Liposuction smoothes out more prominent body contours and eliminates isolated pockets of fat, while lipofilling minimizes scars or other irregularities while adding volume for increased definition where it’s needed the most. With the right combination of smoothing away and filling out, liposuction and lipofilling can deliver very impressive results either alone or together.