The terms “laser liposuction” and “laser-assisted liposuction” can be confusing to the liposuction patient. Liposuction itself has been around for decades. Modern liposuction as we now practice it began in the 1980s with tumescent technique using dilute local local anesthetic. Over the years, it has improved with technological developments.
In 2006, lasers began to be implemented to assist in the breakup of fat before its removal. This is called “laser-assisted liposuction” or “laser lipolysis.” Often that’s shortened to “laser liposuction” and even “laser lipo.” Brand or trade names include Cool Lipo, SlimLipo, ProLipo, LipoLite, Lipotherme and the most well-known, SmartLipo.
Laser-assisted liposuction gives dependable results. Its track record is long; many published studies and peer-reviewed results – as well as satisfied patients — endorse its effectiveness. Laser-assisted liposuction is a minimally invasive, permanent body sculpting cosmetic procedure that is here to stay.
“Lipo Laser,” on the other hand, is a noninvasive device that also claims to sculpt bodies. “Lipo lasers” are somewhat of an oxymoron in name and borrow from the fact that liposuction removes fat through invasive suction in a specific area, resulting in contouring of that area. Saying “non-invasive liposuction” is akin to referring to “non-wet water.” Zerona, LipoLaser, Lapex, I Lipo and others say they cause cells to release fat, which is then metabolized by the body. On the market for 2- 3 years, these devices claim to cause fat loss from a laser held about one foot from the patient. Sounds too good to be true? It probably is.
“Lipo laser” is marketed widely to doctors and to the public. The problem is that there have been no good scientific studies (randomized, controlled, peer-reviewed, such as ones indexed by the National Library of Medicine) that have shown these devices to be effective. In fact, only one study exists, produced by the owners of the device. This company-sponsored study found good results in about 67% of patients. A 1/3 failure rate isn’t a great result. A procedure that only delivers two-thirds of the time is not desirable. Also, medical professionals, scientists, and patients should be also be skeptical of any study produced by a company profiting from the sale of a device. That’s like a tobacco company releasing a study saying its cigarettes are fine for you.
Other researchers have tried to replicate the results of the study. It’s important that the results can be reproduced by clinicians with no financial interest in the device. Researchers’ results could not prove even the moderate success rate. The subjects in the independent studies had no results and no success using the same treatment, protocols and methodology. That’s not great news about the effectiveness of lipo laser devices.
Traditional tumescent liposuction is safe and highly effective with hundreds of thousands of pleased patients. Liposuction and its newer cousin Laser Assisted Liposuction is the permanent removal of fat cells, at least a minimally invasive surgical procedure and not an uncomfortable one. Liposuction and Laser Assisted Liposuction, sometime abbreviated “Laser Lipo” can confused with the light therapy non-surgical devices. These terms can be confusing.
Some manufacturers and associate health providers claim that they Light Therapy non-invasive treatment gives the same results the as Liposuction; it is simply not true. Physican-performed liposuction continues to be the only reliable way to sculpt and lost stubborn pockets of fat. Dissolving fat cells without removing them, as with Lapex, Zerona and Lipo Laser in theory target fat cells deep in the skin without damaging the skin and with no surgery. In theory only. Clinically significant, objectively noticed, improvements are rare.
The good thing is these Light Therapies are not harmful to those who undergo them. The bad thing, though, is that you pay for it, sometimes multiple sessions, and will get minimal, if any results or success. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Dr. Wright. “Research has proven the effectiveness of Tumescent Liposuction, with hundreds of thousands of satisfied patients backing that up. The buyer shouldn’t beware; the patient should have the benefit of proven, effective procedures, medically supervised and with results.”
To contour the body and lose fat, we know what works: Fat removal through liposuction, exercise, or watching calorie intake, or some combination of those. “Lipo laser” treatments often include dietary restrictions to “help” results. People who have a large financial investment in their weight loss tend to have better success losing weight, and we know that calorie-restricted diets really help people lose weight and inches. So those who pay for these treatments are invested in their success and motivated to stick to diets. So even if the lipo laser doesn’t work, some people are going to lose some weight and/or inches because they are motivated to stick to the diet and exercise recommendations.
The best way to way to lose inches still is diet and exercise. For those who haven’t been able to eliminate stubborn pockets of fat by dieting and exercising, liposuction, with its permanent fat cell removal, remains an effective and satisfactory method. There is no convincing evidence at this time that there’s a magic, noninvasive method which can remove inches and pockets of fat. Although it is minimally invasive, Laser-assisted liposuction gives patients lasting success with a single treatment, requiring little downtime and giving dependable results.