Many cosmetic surgery patients are concerned about areas of unwanted, diet- and exercise-resistant fat. Localized fat can be difficult to get rid of permanently, whether it appears as a persistent stomach "pooch" after pregnancy, areas of fat around the thighs that won't budge, or bulges along the flanks and back.
For many years, liposuction has been one of the most popular and frequently performed cosmetic procedures, and for good reason. This surgical procedure reduces fat and refines body contours in a safe, effective, and permanent manner.
Nonsurgical or minimally invasive alternatives to liposuction have grown in popularity in recent years. These body contouring treatments usually do not require an incision or anaesthesia, and they have a shorter recovery time.
Continue reading to learn about the differences between the two fat-loss methods and to determine which one is best for you.
What exactly is liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical fat removal procedure that rose to prominence in the 1980s. A board-certified cosmetic surgeon carefully and precisely removes excess fat during the procedure using a small, hollow tube called a cannula. As the surgeon moves the cannula through the fat deposit, suction is applied, removing excess fat cells and sculpting a slimmer body contour.
Liposuction is especially useful for removing fat from the legs, abdomen, back, arms, face, and neck. It produces more dramatic results than other noninvasive fat reduction procedures; however, it requires a recovery period of about four weeks and is typically more expensive than nonsurgical alternatives.
CoolSculpting®, BodyTite®, and Other Nonsurgical Procedures: How Do They Work?
Nonsurgical fat reduction treatments employ a variety of modalities to target and eliminate unwanted fat cells via a topical, rather than surgical, procedure. Nonsurgical body contouring treatments that are popular include:
Allergan's CoolSculpting is a good choice for people who are close to their ideal weight but want to reduce small, localised trouble spots on the hips, abdomen, or thighs. A specialised cryolipolysis device is used in this treatment to cool unwanted fat cells to the point of death without affecting surrounding tissues. Fat cells that have died are flushed from the body in the days and weeks following the procedure. After three months, the final result is visible.
Cutera's truSculpt treatment is similar in that it uses controlled radiofrequency technology to eliminate fat cells on the hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen. The average treatment lasts about an hour, and most patients require one to two treatments to see noticeable results.
BodyTite by inMode is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten skin and reduce unwanted fat deposits. An internal probe delivers thermal energy to help melt fat and strengthen collagen bands beneath the skin's surface, while an external applicator delivers radiofrequency energy to the skin for additional tightening. BodyTite is considered minimally invasive because a small incision is required to insert the internal applicator probe by your surgeon; however, it is a less invasive procedure than liposuction. BodyTite is an excellent choice for people who have small to moderate amounts of excess fat and loose skin and want to avoid the extensive downtime associated with surgery. Most patients report seeing results within a few days, with final results appearing after 2 to 3 weeks. Patients can expect to see continued skin tightening in the months following their procedure because BodyTite stimulates collagen production in the skin.
SmartLipo by Cynosure, also known as “laser liposuction,” is a non-surgical procedure that uses triple wavelength laser technology to remove unwanted fat around the muscles and tighten loose, sagging skin. SmartLipo's laser gets to work dissolving body and/or facial fat, which your body then processes and excretes naturally. To remove any excess liquid that may accumulate during the procedure, a very small tube is inserted into the treatment area. SmartLipo is ideal for areas of the face that traditional liposuction cannot adequately address, such as the jowls, chin, jaw, and neck, due to the small tube used. SmartLipo is also excellent for contouring areas of the body that retain stubborn fat, such as the abs, back, flanks, thighs, buttocks, and upper arms. Because SmartLipo is less invasive than liposuction, there is less tissue damage at the treatment sites. The results of SmartLipo treatment are visible immediately, and there is little downtime required.
SculpSure by Cynosure is a non-invasive laser body contouring treatment that removes unwanted fat beneath the chin (submental fat), love handles, the back, the stomach, and the inner and outer thighs. SculpSure, like CoolSculpting and truSculpt, is ideal for patients who are nearing their ideal weight but want to reduce stubborn, exercise- and diet-resistant fat pockets. Unlike CoolSculpting, which freezes fat cells, SculpSure uses heat to destroy fat cells (a process known as apoptosis). SculpSure has been shown in studies to be effective at permanently removing up to 24 percent of fat cells in a treated area. A series of 25-minute treatments is beneficial to the majority of patients.
Nonsurgical Fat Reduction vs. Liposuction
Both liposuction and nonsurgical body contouring have advantages and disadvantages.
Liposuction is a more aggressive method of fat removal that causes trauma in the treatment area. For up to 10 days after the procedure, patients will experience soreness, bruising, and swelling. CoolSculpting, truSculpt, and SculpSure treatments are typically gentle and cause little discomfort during and after treatment.
Although the final result of liposuction is not visible until 6 months after the swelling has subsided and the treated area has healed. CoolSculpting and other noninvasive fat reduction treatments take longer to produce results, which become more visible in the weeks and months following the procedure. While neither liposuction nor nonsurgical body contouring treatments can replace weight loss, liposuction does provide more dramatic and longer-lasting results, as well as some skin shrinkage.
The healing process after liposuction necessitates that patients limit their daily activities for several days following the procedure and exercise with caution. CoolSculpting, truSculpt, and SculpSure do not require a lengthy recovery period, and patients can resume normal activities right away, though mild soreness and swelling are to be expected. Though the results of nonsurgical fat reduction will be less noticeable, you will be able to return to work and resume your life much sooner.
Is Liposuction or Nonsurgical Body Contouring the Best Option for Me?
For larger deposits of excess fat, liposuction may be an excellent option. It has the potential to significantly improve your figure in multiple areas at the same time. Some disadvantages include a higher cost and a higher risk of health complications when compared to noninvasive techniques.
If you are already at your ideal weight, have good skin elasticity, and want to target smaller, stubborn trouble spots, nonsurgical fat reduction may be a better option. The results, however, will not be as dramatic, and multiple treatments may be required.
Making an Appointment for Liposuction or Nonsurgical Fat Removal
The best way to decide between liposuction, CoolSculpting, truSculpt, BodyTite, and other non-invasive fat reduction procedures is to consult with a board certified cosmetic surgeon. During a personalised cosmetic surgery consultation, they can walk you through your options and help you decide which is the best fit for you.