Liposuction is an incredible, life-changing cosmetic procedure that works by removing unwanted fat deposits from various areas of the body. Throughout the years, different types of liposuction techniques have been developed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. We will compare the three most common types of liposuction in the plastic surgery industry today: traditional, laser-assisted and ultrasound-assisted.
Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) — sometimes referred to as “Traditional Liposuction” — is a surgical technique that uses a thin, hollow tube called a “cannula” to remove unwanted fat from the body. First, a surgeon makes small incisions in the targeted area. Then, the cannula is inserted through the incision and is skillfully guided under the skin to suction out the fat cells. This procedure is most commonly performed under general anesthesia.
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) uses a medical laser to liquefy fat cells before they are removed from the body. After numbing, the surgeon will create a small incision in the skin and insert the laser device under the skin, into the fat layer. Once the laser has ruptured the fat cells, the cannula is used to suction out the liquefied fat.
This technique is considered less invasive than traditional liposuction and is ideal for patients who are at or close to their target weight. This procedure can be performed under local or general anesthesia.
Some liposuction procedures can be performed under both local and general anesthesia. It depends on the surgeon’s confidence that they can get somebody adequately numbed; there are limits to how much numbing medication can be used to ensure patient safety. It can also be difficult to predict and manage patient behavior in the operating room. The total amount of fat and the number of areas treated must also be taken into consideration.
Often referred to as “VASERlipo” or “Ultrasonic Liposuction,” this surgical approach starts with the introduction of a medical solution to the targeted area before using high-frequency, acoustic sound waves to liquefy fat cells before they are removed from the body. Like LAL, this technique is considered less invasive than traditional liposuction.
Tumescent fluid is a solution made up of lidocaine (to prevent pain), epinephrine (to minimize blood loss), and sodium bicarbonate that is added to saline and pumped into the targeted area before suctioning occurs. Every surgeon who performs liposuction uses tumescent fluid to facilitate the removal of fat. If enough tumescent fluid is used, it makes it basically a bloodless surgery. Some surgeons may choose to use less fluid to save time in the operating room, but this can also be reflective of how they were trained.
This refers to the volume of tumescent fluid put into the target area relative to the amount of lipo aspirant that comes out. Tumescent liposuction involves 2 – 3 times of fluid vs. the amount of fat you expect to extract. The main benefit is that it makes the procedure virtually bloodless which reduces bruising during recovery. Fluid management in the operating room is critical to ensure enough is used to minimize blood loss but also to keep the amount in check to reduce the risk of fluid overload. I use a method that is in the 2:1 ratio range.
Beyond the rare risk of infection that is carried with any surgical procedure, there’s another issue that arises with liposuction results: they’re difficult to maintain without making positive lifestyle changes. We highly recommend patients consult with a functional wellness professional/certified weight loss doctor to establish a sustainable lifestyle plan that can help prolong the positive benefits of this procedure.
While repeat liposuction cases do happen, they are increasingly rare when paired with a comprehensive wellness program complete with nutrition planning, attainable exercise goals and a strong support network.
At Donaldson Plastic Surgery, our board-certified plastic surgeons employ both the traditional and VASERlipo methods to help patients achieve their goals. These two methods are excellent because they can be used to address a wide variety of cases. Power-assisted traditional liposuction is great for removing large areas of fat and breaking up some of the more stubborn fat areas. VASERlipo is incredible for more precise contours and treating multiple areas in one session.
When considering liposuction, it can be reassuring to understand the differences between traditional liposuction, laser-assisted liposuction, and ultrasound-assisted liposuction. Each technique, on paper, has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the best option for you will depend on your individual needs and your surgeon’s preferences. Be sure to discuss your options with a qualified and board-certified plastic surgeon to determine the best course of action.
Dr. Michelle Sieffert is an expert liposuction surgeon in Columbus, Ohio. Throughout her tenure at Donaldson Plastic Surgery, she has completed hundreds of successful liposuction procedures using both the power-assisted traditional technique and the VASER approach. She continues to hone her craft in an effort to improve patient comfort before the procedure, her efficiency in the operating room and the individual’s recovery process.
Chin liposuction — also called submental liposuction or “chin lipo” — is a minimally-invasive surgical technique that suctions excess fat from the chin, neck, and jawline (the cause of a double chin). It is one of the many minimally-invasive procedures we offer safely here at our office under local anesthesia. Check out a first-person perspective on the recovery process after chin liposuction with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Sieffert.
If you suffer from excessive chin fat, you know the struggle. Before my procedure, my double chin was always my biggest insecurity for as long as I could remember. I was so self-conscious about my profile that I unintentionally developed a years-long habit of jutting out my lower jaw to look like I had more of a chin than I actually did. Not only was this physically tiring, but when I looked at myself, my chin was the only thing I could see.
Last December, I decided to make the most of my time off during the holiday season and scheduled myself to receive submental liposuction with Renuvion Skin Tightening (also known as J Plasma) underneath my chin. Dr. Sieffert, my surgeon, specifically recommended lipo with Renuvion for me, which is a new technology to Donaldson Plastic Surgery that essentially tightens up the skin after liposuction. Dr. Sieffert expected I would get great results, so I was totally on board with her recommendations, and excited to see my end result!
On the morning of my procedure, I arrived at the Donaldson Plastic Surgery office early to get my bearings and mentally prep. They have an underground parking garage below their office, so it was really private and convenient to take the elevator from where I parked my car right up to their space. Luckily, my S.O. was there with me to support me and drive me to and from the surgery. We sat in reception together, both a little nervous and excited, until it was time.
The minute I saw Dr. Sieffert, all of my nerves disappeared. She explained to me exactly what we would be doing that day, what I was going to experience, how it was going to feel, everything. Then, it was time to get started.
Now, I have to be honest. Experiencing surgery while you are awake is … weird. The actual liposuction tube (cannula) is a little strange — you can hear the sound of suction close to your ears, and you do feel the rod thrusting back and forth. But the team of Donaldson Plastic Surgery was there with me the whole time, holding my hand and letting me know that I was doing perfectly. I knew that the end result was going to be worth any discomfort I had at the moment, which, strangely, kept me feeling really calm.
Dr. Sieffert was WONDERFUL and made sure I was comfortable throughout the procedure. All in all, it lasted around one hour.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that, unfamiliar sensations aside, I personally did not experience any pain at all. I was completely numbed beforehand and had preemptively taken medication for pain and anxiety, so I felt literally no fear the entire time I was in there. It honestly felt safer in their procedure room than being at the dentist’s.
I brought my significant other with me, who was prepared to drive and help me that day. I also did all of my paperwork before so I didn’t have to worry about it, and I had the couch set up with everything I needed around me for when I got home (water, laptop, charger, snacks, blanket, OTC meds, heating pad, neck pillow, etc.).
Dr. Sieffert sent in two prescriptions to my pharmacy for me to take before my procedure. I would highly recommend having a conversation with Dr. Sieffert about what medications she would recommend for you, whether it be for relaxation or pain, and that you are both clear on the plan.
Take 3 to 5 days off of work if you can. While I did feel good for most of my chin lipo recovery and felt like I could have worked from home, I was glad that I didn’t plan to be productive during this time.
It really does help reduce the potential for swelling and makes your results better. In the first week or two, do not take it off for an extended period of time except to bathe. I would recommend wearing the compression at night for a couple of months after surgery.
A really great tip I learned to make wearing the compression garment easier was to wear a soft cotton headband underneath to protect your skin and ears from becoming irritated under the velcro fastenings. It also helps to keep the wrap clean if it’s not sitting directly on your skin!
This one came from Dr. Sieffert herself. You want to make sure you’re getting enough protein after your surgery so your body has what it needs to begin the healing process. It is super important to make sure you have protein-rich foods and supplements on deck.
I absolutely recommend talking with your surgeon ahead of time about the specific results you want, and whether or not they recommend any additional treatments to get you there. Because of my recessive chin, we also discussed the possibility of a chin implant or placing fillers in both the chin and along the jawline to better define these areas. I’m glad that we have a larger plan to go on, and I plan to receive a chin implant soon when I am ready.
After the procedure, I felt great because I was still generally pretty numb, and the pain medication I had taken before my procedure was still working. I took it easy the next couple of days after surgery. I began feeling the swelling and discomfort set in n day 2, which is when I felt my worst throughout the entire chin lipo recovery period.
You are supposed to wear a compression sleeve around your chin to minimize any swelling that occurs 24 hours a day for at least the first week. That was more of a nuisance than anything, but I was willing to wear this compression band in order to make sure I had the best results possible. I took the weekend and 3 days off of work to fully recover before getting back into my normal day-to-day routine. I had no bruising at all, no eating restrictions, and I was able to shower the next day.
I first began to notice my results really coming in about a week after the procedure once my swelling went down — I knew then that I would LOVE my results because they get better and better over time as your skin heals and tightens. The only scarring I have is a small incision scar hidden underneath my chin and my ears where the liposuction cannula was inserted. They are really well hidden, and less than a couple of centimeters wide — the office even gave me a scar gel to use on my incisions to help them heal really nicely.
I am so grateful to Dr. Sieffert and the team at Donaldson Plastic Surgery for my chin liposuction experience. I have to admit it, I was emotional when Dr. Sieffert said we were all done. I cried when I looked in the mirror after my procedure, just from the sheer relief I felt once I realized that my insecurity was gone. It was a really powerful moment, and I am so happy I did it.
Chin lipo can be combined with other skin tightening or fat reduction treatments, or even a chin implant to help define the contour of the neck. A neck lift, Renuvion, Kybella, chin and jawline fillers, and CoolSculpting are all alternative treatments for the double chin, or can be combined with chin liposuction to define your neck and maximize your results!