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What is radiofrequency-assisted liposuction?


Radiofrequency-assisted liposuction (also known as RFAL or by trade names such as BodyTite and FaceTite) is a relatively new, minimally invasive procedure which uses thermal energy to promote skin tightening and remove unwanted fat. The use of radiofrequency waves can complement traditional liposuction techniques by dissolving fat and inducing collagen production for firmer skin.

How is radiofrequency-assisted liposuction done?

Radiofrequency-assisted liposuction is performed under local anesthesia. The surgeon makes a small incision in the area to be treated and a radiofrequency transmitting electrode is inserted. Radiofrequency waves are guided upwards through the fatty tissue using another electrode, which also serves to ensure that the treatment area doesn't get too hot.

As the radiofrequency waves liquefy the fat, it is immediately suctioned from the body via the cannula. The radiofrequency waves also stimulate the production of collagen beneath the skin, making the treated area appear firmer and more toned.

What are the benefits of radiofrequency-assisted liposuction?

One of the main benefits of radiofrequency-assisted liposuction is that it's minimally invasive, requiring only very small incisions. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, scarring is also minimal and the chances of infection are reduced. The patient also experiences less bruising, pain and/or discomfort during the recovery period.

Another oft-cited benefit of RFAL is that the surgeon can guide the cannula more precisely than in traditional liposuction, making the procedure useful for treating several body problems. The radiofrequency waves not only dissolve unwanted fat but also promotes the production of collagen and reduces the appearance of cellulite. This is particularly effective in areas such as the lower belly and the love handles. Results of the procedure are more effective making the patient appear more toned as well as slimmer. Other benefits of RFAL are:

  • May be done under local anesthesia or light sedation
  • No risks of general anesthesia
  • Procedure does not require an overnight stay
  • Typical recovery time is 1 to 2 days
  • Many patients return to work the day after their procedure
  • Considerably reduces fatty deposits while firming the body
  • Tiny microcannulas reduce the chance of developing "lumps" or other irregularities as compared to traditional liposuction
  • Studies show highest rates of patient satisfaction

What areas of the body can be treated with radiofrequency-assisted liposuction?

RFAL can be used on multiple areas on the body, including the chin area, neck, jowls, cheeks, arms, inner and outer thighs, male breasts, pubic mound, buttocks, knees, hips and abdomen.

Who is a good candidate for radiofrequency-assisted liposuction?

Ideal candidates for RFAL are in overall good health overall, but have stubborn areas of localized fat that are resistant to all diet and exercise. Although radiofrequency-assisted liposuction reduces body fat, it is not a weight loss surgery and severely overweight patients are not typically good candidates for the procedure.

This blog was contributed to ASPS by Dr. Mark Schusterman.


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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