cosmetic procedures

 aglossary of cosmetic plastic surgery terms with their plain english equivalents

Bodyshaping by Liposuction

in the land of plenty, people get fatter and live longer. is it any wonder that liposuction is the top plastic surgery for men, and is a top unnamed component of many women's plastic surgeries, including tummy tuck, breast lift, thigh lift, and eyelid surgery?

You Have the French to Thank for Liposuction

Early in the 20th century, the first attempts at liposuction ended in gangrenous infection. After that bad beginnning, the permanent removal of fat cells from the body by mechanical means was put aside for a while.

In 1982, French surgeon, Dr Yves-Gerard Illouz went public with the Illouz Method, the process of suction-assisted lipolysis, or fat removal, using blunt cannulas (hollow tubes) assisted by a high-vacuum suction device (aspirator), with safe and reproducible good results.

Liposuction Basics:
• The goal of all liposuction procedures is to safely, permanently remove fat cells from an area of the body.
• Liposuction is a bodyshaping procedure - NOT a weight loss strategy. The inches lost and improvements to body contours would suggest a greater weight loss than would actually be measured by a scale.
• Typically, the areas (bra rolls, love handles, abdomen, neck, upper inner thighs, saddlebags) that are targeted for liposuction hold fat cells due to heredity, and are resistant to healthy diet and exercise, and are present in men and women at or below their normal weight.

Liposuction History and Innovations
Since 1982, growing clinical knowledge, and new medical technologies, have meant increased safety and better outcomes for liposuction patients.

Unfortunately, you will probably find physicians offering all versions of liposuction, each claiming to be the most recent advance. It can be confusing. Do your research.

Liposuction 1982 to the Present
Illouz Method, also referred to as dry liposuction, since the patient was under general anesthesia, with no fluid injected at the liposuction site.

Tumescent Liposuction
(1985) - the site is injected with high volumes of fluid (3-4x the volume of fat to be removed) containing a local anesthetic. This advance allowed the liposuction to be done under intravenous sedation, rather than general anesthesia.

Super Wet Liposuction (1987) - concern for the potential toxicity of large amounts of fluid and of lidocaine, the local anesthetic, led to lower volume injections (1:1 ratio of injection to fat to be removed), known as "super wet liposuction."

Ultrasonic Liposuction (1995) - An ultrasonic equipped cannula is inserted through a small incision near the fat deposit, transmitting ultrasound vibrations that destabilize (liquefy) the fat, making it easier to remove. Some clinical reports state that internal ultrasonic liposuction can result in burns to internal tissues because of the heat of the instrument. An external ultrasonic device has been developed to address potential complications of ultrasonic liposuction.

Smart Lipo (FDA approved 2006)
A type of laser-assisted liposuction that uses a cannula outfitted with a hot laser and a guide light that can be viewed through the skin as the surgeon positions the cannula. Fat is liquefied by the hot laser, and according to Cynosure, makers and marketers of the technology, collagen production is stimulated in the liposuction area, improving skin elasticity. Typically, when SmartLipo is used, fat is not removed by a suction device, but rather, dissipates through the body’s natural processes.

Cold Laser Liposuction (FDA approved 2006)
The Erchonia Neira 4L laser produces a low-level, or cold, output that has no thermal effect on the body's tissue. Scanning the outer surface of the skin, the laser penetrates the skin to liquefy internal fat, making it easier to remove by a suction equipped cannula.

According to clinical trials results presented to the FDA by Erchonia, the technology allows for less invasive procedures with more precise removal of fat with less effort by both patient and surgeon, with a quicker patient recovery.

More information about liposuction advances

Several liposuction techniques, including water-assisted liposuction, are used outside the U.S. but have not received FDA approval for patients of U.S. surgeons.

"New" or just Marketing Speak?
Some surgeons coin their own names for liposuction techniques that are not in any appreciable way different, new or unique. This is common in areas where there are lots of surgeons, and each is trying to differentiate themselves from the pack. It's not illegal. It's just a proprietary name - marketing speak, not medical breakthrough.

Who Performs Liposuction?
Do some research in your area and you'll find liposuction offered by physicians including board-certified plastic surgeons and plastic surgeons.

There are no regulations to prevent others from performing liposuction, so it's up to you to ask about their qualifications, and to see results from procedures they've performed. Liposuction, although common and regarded as safe, has some of the same risks of any surgical procedure - infection, surgical and post-surgical complications.


Seeking a board-certified plastic surgeon who can advise you about what a liposuction procedure can do for you? Visit, the official site of the American society of Plastic Surgeons.

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