Advantages and Risks of Ultrasonic Liposuction

Advantages and Risks of Ultrasonic Liposuction

Liposuction is a procedure done to remove excess fat in areas of the body that do not yield to usual fat loss methods of exercise and dieting. One of the newest methods of liposuction is ultrasonic liposuction also referred to as ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty or UAL.

The use of ultrasound in surgery goes back about four decades ago. Ultrasound is sound waves of very high frequency, which creates energy that when focused on a specific tissue is able to destroy it. Ultrasound is used to remove cataracts and tumors and for surgical procedures on other parts of the body.

In ultrasonic liposuction, ultrasound is used to dissolve fat, making it easier for the suction to remove. Ultrasonic liposuction like other liposuction procedures is not meant for weight loss, cellulite or stretch mark removal or treatment of obesity.

Ultrasonic liposuction can either be external or internal. With external ultrasonic liposuction, the fat picks up the ultrasonic energy from a metal paddle placed directly over the skin of the treatment area. The ultrasound is able to break down fat without the need for incisions. However, this procedure is seldom used today as several studies indicate that it has no real benefits in the extraction of fat.

The preferred method of internal ultrasonic liposuction is done by creating incisions on the skin through which the cannula is inserted. Using the cannula, the surgeon introduces a special tumescent solution into the area of fat. Ultrasound reaches the fat deposits through the cannula as well and as the sound waves target and melt down the fat, it turns into oil which combines with the tumescent solution. The resulting mix is then removed by suction out of the body.

With its ability to liquefy fat, one advantage of ultrasonic liposuction is the easy removal of a larger volume of fat than traditional liposuction methods. Ultrasonic liposuction is also very effective in dissolving fibrous or tougher fat especially in the areas of the male chest, upper and lower abdomen, buttocks, the sides of the thigh, and the back.

Some of the risks associated with ultrasonic liposuction are:

  • Burns and blisters, which happens when the equipment that generates ultrasound overheats or if the surgeon accidentally pushes the tip or end of the cannula in direct contact with the skin from inside the body.
  • Blood clots, which may occur when ultrasound heightens the temperature of blood vessels on the skin creating clots within it.
  • Seroma, which is a cavity filled with fluid or serum that the body creates in the tissues to try to heal injury that, in ultrasonic liposuction, results from excessive ultrasonic energy. While seroma is not considered a serious risk, it causes great discomfort and inconvenience as it may persist for weeks and the fluid would have to be drained several times before it completely disappears.
  • Longer period of numbness due to nerve injuries caused by too much heat produced by ultrasound.

Understanding the use, advantages and risks of ultrasonic liposuction is necessary before deciding if you should get one. Even more important is to find a board-certified and experienced liposuction specialist who can help you determine the best procedure for you.