Battle of the Bulge Innovations

By Dr. Rebecca Weiss
Medical director, Paradise Medspa & Wellness

When it comes to battling body fat, there are a lot of gimmicks out there. From fat melting pills, fad diets and expensive machines that claim to “vibrate” the fat away to mesotherapy and radiofrequency treatments that claim to take off inches, I thought I’d heard it all. While many surgical options, such as liposuction and tummy tucks, offer dramatic results, most come with a high price tag, risk of general anesthesia and prolonged recovery periods. Two new techniques, SmartLipo laser-assisted liposuction and VASER Liposculpture, have brought a new ray of hope to those wishing to downsize without the downtime.

The SmartLipo LaserBodySculpting system arrived on the scene in 2006 and has been at the forefront of the drive toward kinder, gentler methods of liposuction. It has received a tremendous amount of press, thanks in part to a wonderful marketing campaign by the Cynosure, Inc. Company but more so after Britney Spears was seen leaving a SmartLipo clinic in Los Angeles last year. This amazing technique allows physicians to use laser energy to melt away fatty tissue while coagulating blood vessels and inducing collagen production to leave the skin with a tighter appearance minus the swelling and bruising usually associated with liposuction. The SmartLipo system is ideal for treating small areas of stubborn fat such as the back of arms, love handles, thighs and abdomen. Other uses include skin tightening around the neck and cellulite reduction.

As opposed to SmartLipo, which is designed for contouring of localized fat deposits, the addition of VASER Liposelection gives physicians a weapon to treat larger areas of fatty tissue and can offer dramatic results for those who might have a bit more than “localized deposits” of fat. Despite the similarity in the name, VASER technology does not involve the use of lasers. The VASER technique employs ultrasound energy to break up fatty tissue while also minimizing damage to the surrounding blood vessels and nerves.

While the VASER can be used on its own, when combined with SmartLipo technology, patients will achieve the ultimate in both fat reduction and skin tightening. Both techniques are minimally invasive and are done through tiny incisions under local anesthesia, minimizing the risks to patients. Most patients are back to their usual activities within 48 hours of either procedure. Most physicians are doing the procedure in an out-patient setting, alleviating the need for costly operating room fees and anesthesiology costs. The average cost to treat a single body area comes in between $3,000 to $5,000, much less than the average cost for traditional liposuction, making either procedure more affordable for the masses.

Of course, none of these treatments should be considered without ongoing attempts at a healthy lifestyle. Significant weight gain after liposuction procedures can lead to irregular contours in the treated areas and less desirable results. That being said, however, patients treated with liposuction have been shown to have improvements in their cholesterol measurements and blood pressure readings. All of this amounts to great news for those looking for ways to improve both their appearance and overall health!

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