Developed in 1985, tumescent liposuction is a gentle body contouring procedure commonly practiced by cosmetic surgeons to help people achieve leaner lines and improved definition. “Tumescent” means swollen and firm, and this method involves injecting fluid into the fat at the targeted site until the area becomes tumescent. The fluid is made up of a combination of local anesthesia and epinephrine. The anesthesia works to numb the surgical site while the epinephrine shrinks the capillaries to significantly minimize bleeding. A small, stainless steel tube, known as a cannula, is inserted through a small incision, and fat is suctioned out.
Early liposuction methods used general anesthesia and involved increased surgical risk and greater blood loss. The local anesthesia used in tumescent liposuction offers a distinct advantage over the traditional method, ensuring that this updated procedure is much safer. Tumescent liposuction results in minimal bruising and swelling and offers a faster rate of healing. A range of cannula sizes can be used to deliver precision and finesse. This form of liposuction can be particularly effective in larger areas of the body that require fat removal.
While tumescent liposuction is a surgical procedure, laser liposuction is a minimally-invasive procedure that goes by several names and may be commonly referred to as Smartlipo™. True to its name, this liposuction method uses laser technology to target unwanted fat. With Smartlipo™, a controlled laser beam penetrates below the skin, and the heat from the laser liquefies and dissolves the fat. A cannula may be used to then remove the fat through tiny incisions, although some surgeons prefer to allow the dissolved fat be absorbed by the body, where it is naturally eliminated from the body over time.
Because Smartlipo™ is less invasive than tumescent liposuction, trauma to the tissue is minimized. As a result, there is less bruising, as well as other benefits. The laser from Smartlipo™ heats the underlying skin, which creates a firming, “shrink-wrapped” effect. People who opt for laser liposuction also enjoy a faster recovery time when compared with more invasive forms of liposuction.
When Tumescent and Laser Liposuction Work Together
In some cases, tumescent liposuction and laser liposuction may be used in one procedure. There are some parts of the body where fat can be denser, more fibrous and difficult to remove, such as the upper abdomen or upper back. Smartlipo™ can get in these hard to reach places to complement the effects of tumescent liposuction for more precise, sculpted results.
Whether you go in for tumescent liposuction, laser liposuction or a combination of the two, the most important considerations for a successful outcome are your candidacy and your surgeon’s skill and experience. Adults who are healthy, understand that liposuction is not a substitute for weight loss and have realistic expectations may be good candidates for the body contouring procedure. A cosmetic surgeon with a skilled, artful technique can use liposuction to go beyond fat removal to bring out the best in your body and deliver long-lasting results.