Ultrasonic vs Tumescent Liposuction

in Liposuction

Liposuction is a minor surgical treatment used on areas of the body containing excess pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.  In women, the most common treatment areas are in the abdomen, thighs, knees, and under the arms near the breast.  In men, common treatment areas are in the abdomen, chest, and midriff area (love handles).  Both men and women benefit from liposuction performed in the neck and chin areas.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction is the third most common cosmetic surgical procedure performed in the United States.  In 2006, the latest figure shows over 300,000 of these procedures were performed nationwide.  There are many forms of liposuction, but the most common among them are tumescent liposuction, and ultrasonic liposuction.  Many physicians use different words like lipoplasty and liposculpture, but unless it has ultrasound appended to it, the procedure is most likely tumenscent liposuction.

Tumescent liposuction

The standard liposuction procedure has been used in the U.S. since the 1970s and is still the most common option today.  In this procedure, a solution of saline and lidocaine is injected into the area to be treated.  This helps anesthetize the skin and increase the space between the fat cells for easy removal.  The amount of fluid injected is approximately three to four times the amount of fat that is to be removed.

The fat and fluid is then extracted by the use of a small vacuum tube called a cannula.  Depending on the area being treated, the procedure can take up to an hour.  Once the fat is removed, additional procedures like abdominoplasty, thighplasty, or facelift can be performed to tighten up loose skin.

Ultrasonic liposuction

This procedure is very similar to tumescent liposuction, but includes the use of a small ultrasonic device inserted and manipulated by the surgeon.  The ultrasonic waves break up the fat cells and emulsify them for easier removal through the suction device.

Determining which procedure is used is based on factors like doctor preferences and your specific body types and aesthetic goals.  Clinical studies conducted to find out which procedure work best are still inconclusive.  One study by Journal Watch seems to indicate that the ultrasonic liposuction actually caused more damage to blood vessels and did not show any major improvements over the standard tumescent procedure.

However, that does not mean that ultrasonic liposuction is never a good idea this is just one study.  One area of the body may benefit more by the use of the ultrasonic assistance than other areas.  It is best to discuss liposuction options with a qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeon.

The best candidates for liposuction are non-smoking adults who are generally healthy and just have trouble areas that need to be addressed.  Diet and exercise after liposuction treatment are still encouraged to maintain an optimal appearance.

Liposuction procedures are not a weight loss solution.  Only about five liters of fat, which is approximately ten pounds, can safely be removed during a session.  Liposuction is more of a body sculpting procedure used to remove stubborn fat deposits.

Like all surgical procedures, liposuction can cause complications including, skin necrosis (dead skin), fluid imbalance, lidocaine toxicity and thromboembolism.  These complications may arise regardless of what type of liposuction procedure is used.  To minimize these complications it is best to seek out a qualified, board certified, cosmetic surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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Sara Goldstein has 1 articles online

To learn more about liposuction, please visit the website of Houston cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Leo Lapuerta today.


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Ultrasonic vs Tumescent Liposuction

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This article was published on 2010/12/23