You probably don’t have to look far to know someone who has had some cosmetic procedure or surgery to improve their appearance, body shape, or skin. That’s because every year an estimated 10 million cosmetic procedures are performed in the United States, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Americans spend an estimated $11 billion on cosmetic procedures every year. And until last year, liposuction has topped the list as the most popular procedure (now breast augmentation is the number one procedure). Liposuction has been a sought-after way to remove unwanted fat for decades, but the invasive surgical procedure and long recovery time kept some people from seeking the treatment.
However, when the Federal Drug Administration approved Vaser Liposuction, this less invasive procedure rejuvenated the interest in cosmetic weight reduction.
How does Vaser Liposuction Work?
Vaser Liposuction is similar to surgical liposuction in many ways where surgical instruments are used to suction out fat from specific areas of the body. However, with Vaser Liposuction, the instruments are much smaller and the procedure is less invasive than a standard liposuction procedure. Here’s how it works:
- First you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam to determine if you are a good candidate for Vaser Liposuction (See below: Who are the best candidates for Vaser Liposuction?). In a consultation with your doctor, you’ll discuss what you want your body to look like and where you want the excess fat removed.
- Your doctor will use a marker on your skin to indicate the areas on your body to target for fat removal.
- When it’s time to begin the procedure (which is commonly done in an outpatient setting), you will receive local or general anesthesia to numb the area where small incisions will be made to reduce pain and bruising. You’ll receive a series of injections of anesthesia and wait 15 to 30 minutes for it to take effect. Doctors prefect local or general anesthesia for Vaser Liposuction procedures, because it’s helpful to have the patient away during the procedure.
- After the anesthesia kicks in, your doctor will make a few very small incisions in the areas indicated for fat removal. Then your doctor will insert a long, skinny, pen-like instrument called a Vaser lipo selection cannula. Your doctor will gently guide this instrument back and forth under your skin. The heat and motion from this ultrasonic device will break apart fat cells and tissue and liquefy the fat.
- Then a similar-sized tool will be inserted in the small incisions to suction out the liquefied fat.
- When the procedure is complete, the areas that were treated will be wrapped in a tight-fitting garmet for 36 hours. You’ll take a regiment of antibiotics for a few days. And the incisions will heal on their own. You’ll be able to resume normal activities in a few days. And in 4 to 5 days, you’ll see your doctor again for a follow-up visit an evaluation.
What are the Advantages of Vaser Liposuction?
Vaser Liposuction is a major improvement to traditional liposuction that requires larger incisions and more invasive surgical techniques and instruments to suction out excess body fat.
Vaser Liposuction uses much smaller instruments than surgical liposuction. This lowers the risk of damaging other tissues and organs during the procedure, and reduces bruising, swelling, and recovery times.
It’s a less invasive procedure than surgical liposuction with fewer side effects and less recovery time.
In most cases, Vaser Liposuction is an outpatient procedure that can be done at your doctor’s office instead of going to the hospital. And it can be performed with general anesthesia injected in the areas where excess fat will be removed.
This allows the patient to be awake during the procedure, and doctors find this helpful for moving around the patient and identifying any potential complications compared to performing surgery on a patient who is asleep.
But perhaps the most compelling advantage of Vaser Liposuction is the minimal recovery time. In most cases, patients can resume normal activities in just a few days after treatment.
And patients rarely experience complications with Vaser Liposuction compared to the long list of complications associated with traditional liposuction. Improvements in body shape and fat loss are visible in the first week for most patients. And over the course of a few months, the ultimate results of the procedure will be achieved.
Doctors and patients have also reported smoother contouring of the skin compared to surgical liposuction, and improved skin retraction, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Who are the Best Candidates for Vaser Liposuction?
Vaser Liposuction is not intended to be a weight loss or weight reduction procedure. It’s a cosmetic procedure intended to reshape the contours of your body that don’t respond well to diet and exercise.
The ideal candidate maintained a healthy weight for six months or more and is in good health. Smoking and taking certain medications can also increase the risk for complications, and thus make you less of an ideal candidate.
How does Vaser Liposuction Differ from Liposuction?
In terms of procedure, one of the major differences between Vaser Liposuction and surgical liposuction is the way the fat is removed. In surgical liposuction, the cannula is used to suction out fat cells directly from under the skin.
With Vaser Liposuction, fat cells are first liquefied with ultrasonic waves, and then suctioned out. In addition, healing times are faster and risk of complications smaller with Vaser Liposuction compared to surgical liposuction.
How Much Fat Can be Removed with Vaser Liposuction?
Most doctors recommend that no more than 10 pounds of fat be removed during Vaser Liposuction. And it’s important to remember that Vaser Liposuction is not considered a weight loss procedure, but a body-contouring procedure.
What are the Risks of Vaser Liposuction?
Known risks associated with Vaser Liposuction are minimal, especially compared to surgical liposuction. In most cases, patients who receive Vaser Liposuction experience few side effects or symptoms.
However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks involved. Skin and tissue can be burned by the ultrasound device used to heat and liquefy fat cells. In some cases, the skin where excess fat was removed may not respond by tightening, and may instead look dimpled, wavy or saggy.
There’s also the possibility of skin discoloration and changes in pigmentation after Vaser Liposuction. And there’s also the risk of developing a bacterial infection from germs that enter at the incision points during the procedure.
If you want to reshape your body, and you’ve made a reasonable effort to do so through diet and exercise, but aren’t satisfied with your results, Vaser Liposuction may be right for you. Keep in mind that it’s not intended for weight loss, but for body contouring. It works best when used to remove unwanted fat from areas that haven’t responded well to diet and exercise.