American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Ultrasonic liposuction vs traditional liposuction

Liposuction is one of the most popular surgeries in the United States and has helped millions of patients improve their initial shape or achieve their ideal look. People often consider liposuction when they're unable to lose weight in certain areas of their body and decide to have their fat surgically removed. The best candidates for liposuction are those who are 20-30 lbs near their ideal weight, because liposuction helps target and eliminate troubling fat in accumulative areas. However, it should be noted that liposuction is not a means of drastic weight loss, as the procedure is meant to contour the body. Liposuction is helpful in achieving a healthy look, but is recommended only when the recipient is in fairly good physical condition.

Two common procedures that surgeons use when targeting these areas are ultrasonic liposuction and tumescent liposuction.

Ultrasonic liposuction

Ultrasonic liposuction uses ultrasonic waves to liquefy fat in the patient's target area, later to be sucked out by a cannula, or a thin type of medical vacuum. This form of assisted liposuction is typically used for stubborn areas within the patient, such as the knees, neck, chin, feet and ankles.

There are two different types of ultrasonic liposuction: internal ultrasonic liposuction and external ultrasonic liposuction.

Internal ultrasonic liposuction is a procedure in which the surgeon inserts a probe into the patient. The probe emits sonic vibrations, which break up fat in problem areas.

External ultrasonic liposuction employs a paddle-like tool to emit sonic vibrations outside the body and through the skin. This way, fat is eliminated without incisions. However, the vibrations involved in this type of surgery can potentially disrupt the patient's nervous system in the targeted area and result in a loss of feeling. Through the external use of sonic waves, this can also result in bruising and skin necrosis. It is best to consult with your doctor to decide which method is most beneficial to you.

Tumescent liposuction

Rather than using energy to break down fat cells, tumescent liposuction injects a solution that hydrates the fat within a patient's body so it is easily extracted. Like ultrasonic liposuction, tumescent liposuction has two techniques that are common among surgeons: wet and super wet.

In both wet and super wet procedures, the surgeon injects a fat-hydrating solution, making it easier to remove from the patient's target area. This injection makes it less likely for the patient to bleed, and also diminishes the chances of complications during surgery, due to the solution's intrinsic quality to constrict capillaries. As an added benefit, this procedure results in minimal bruising.

While both surgeries run the risk of various complications, the results can be life-changing for the better. With proper preparation and the help of a capable surgeon, patients can eliminate their most stubborn fat and contour their body in a way that can transform the entirety of their look in a positive way. Patients should consult their doctor about any allergies they may have and prepare for a brief recovery period, typically a few days.

For more information, including a list of ASPS plastic surgeons in your community, please use our Find a Plastic Surgeon tool.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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