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Types of Lipo infographic

Understanding Types of Tumescent Lipo

The tumescent liposuction technique is one of the most popular liposuction treatments, gaining in popularity thanks to the many benefits it provides. Unlike traditional liposuction, the tumescent liposuction technique uses localized anesthetic rather than general anesthesia, so patients remain conscious through the entire procedure. Localized anesthetic is much safer to use for patients, and causes little to no complications when compared to general anesthesia. Cosmetic surgeons use a tumescent fluid to surround the fat being removed, and use a cannula to dislodge fat from the connective tissue, and then suction it away.

surgical liposuction tummy tuck

Traditional tumescent liposuction technique was first developed by Dr. Jeffrey Klein in the 1980s, and rolled out to the market in the 1990s. Over the years, many technologies have been added to the traditional tumescent liposuction technique, using various brand names. In these instances, the tumescent technique is enhanced by additional mechanical movements or vibrations of the cannula to aid the surgeon in extracting or removing fat more easily and quickly.

These different mechanical processes are not necessarily a different type of procedure, but allow the surgeon to remove fat a little faster and with less fatigue. This can prove confusing to patients seeking liposuction, simply because there are so many different types on the market! It may not be clear to non-medical professionals that these procedures are holistically the same, and the differences are mostly about ease of use for the surgeon, and don’t necessarily make a big change in the patient experience or result. The results of any surgery are highly dependent on the skill and experience of the surgeon. While these changes or additions might make the liposuction procedure itself slightly different or with a distinct name and may offer a modest -at best- change to the patient’s experience.

Tickle Liposuction

Like all the other techniques we’ll dig into, tickle lipo is another marketing name for a type of mechanically-assisted tumescent liposuction. It’s often marketed as one of the most “gentle” (hence the name) techniques, but still uses the same tumescent fluid as a local anesthetic, and follows the tumescent techniques taught by Dr. Klein. Technically, the company that makes the nutational infrasonic liposuction (AKA tickle lipo) is no longer cleared by the FDA to call it “tickle lipo”.  In fact, tickle liposuction has also gone by several other names you might run into.The girl on the naked shoulder feather

For example, Power Assisted Lipo and Tickle Liposuction are very similar variations of mechanically-assisted tumescent liposuction that use a small motor to rotate, vibrate and or move or swing  the liposuction cannula back and forth at a regular speed. You may also read about Custom Acoustic Liposuction (CAL) or Nutational Infrasonic Liposuction (NIL), Vibro Lipo, or Vibroliposuction, which are the exact same procedure, using the exact same cannula that is used in today’s tickle liposuction procedure. In each instance you’ll unknowingly be going through an identical procedure with a marked-up price, under the guise of experiencing a “new and improved” technology.

Lipo 360

Lipo 360 is a liposuction procedure that goes all around the circumference of the body in the designated treatment area (again, hence the name). For example, if you’re seeking treatment on the abdomen, the Lipo 360 procedure would treat your abdomen, the obliques, and the mid and lower back. If you were seeking treatment on your upper legs, the Lipo 360 procedure would treat your upper thighs, hips, and buttocks. But again, there is no fundamental difference in the liposuction technique. The practicing surgeon would still be using tumescent local anesthesia and a cannula to remove the fat, and the distinction here is purely the areas that are being treated in one procedure. This procedure may be more beneficial to some than overs, but is purely based on body type and individual needs.

Woman measuring abdomen


SmartLipo is typically marketed as a technique that offers the added benefit of additional skin tightening over traditional tumescent liposuction, and as such is typically more expensive. Smartlipo is a marketing brand of laser-assisted lipo, which adds a small laser to the cannula, which heats the skin and fat cells, causing them to liquefy. The softening of the cells is then said to make them easier to remove from the treatment area with the cannula, leaving patients with less bruising and a shortened recovery time. The heat from the laser is also said to create a skin tightening effect.

Sexy bikini body healthy weight loss Asian woman with slim waist in red fashion swimsuit standing on blue sky background banner for spa laser treatment epilation, liposuction, beauty concept.


VASER liposuction refers to a type of liposuction that breaks apart fat cells and loosens them from your deeper tissues  using a high frequency ultrasound. Again, this is another variation on the tumescent liposuction technique. Even though it uses an ultrasound, it still is dependent on the suction cannula to remove the fat, and local anesthesia rather than general.

Cosmetic surgery liposuction. The process of removing fat on the legs of a fat woman. Without face, unrecognizable patient.

How Do You Pick a Liposuction Procedure?

At the end of the day the biggest difference and experience will come from the surgeon that will dictate your experience, not the tool in their hand. We strongly recommend working with a surgeon you trust and who comes highly recommended as a professional and experienced, and always encourages patients to be their own advocates and educated consumers before speaking with a surgeon about liposuction.

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