Traditional liposuction techniques
Liposuction or liposculpture has been performed since the 1970’s. To begin with a very easy and logical method was used; a hollow metal probe connected to vacuum suction was inserted into the fat layer under the skin. One then broke the fat structure by moving the probe back and forth, whereby the fat cells loosened and could be vacuumed out.
When the surgeon moved the probe back and forth through the fatty layer he/she could not avoid cutting a vast amount of the blood vessels that are in the fat. This caused a lot of bleeding which in turn lead to swelling, bruising, blood and fluid loss. The work was also tiresome for the surgeon and it could be difficult to determine how much fat had been removed which increased the risk of unevenness.
The trauma the tissue was exposed to and the great fluid loss which arose during liposuction often lead to a troublesome post operative period for the patient with extensive swelling, bruising, pain and the need for time of in order to recuperate.
The techniques for traditional liposuction has improved
Even if the basic principles of the traditional liposuction procedure are very much the same today, the techniques have been refined and developed with the aim of making them easier, safer, more effective and lenient than previously.
From wet to dry liposuction
The first and greatest change is that today with all types of lipoplasty uses a particular solution, so called Klein solution, which is injected into the fatty layer before liposuction begins. This process is called infiltration.
The Klein solution is part salt water, anaesthetic and adrenaline. The injected solution makes the fatty tissue swell which makes it easier to remove, minimises fluid loss while the adrenaline simultaneously causes the blood vessels to contract. This minimises bleeding, swelling and bruising.
How much solution is injected depends on the amount of fat to be removed, the area of treatment as well as the surgeon’s preferences. It can be threefold the amount of fat to be removed, as much or as less.
With dry liposuction in contrast to tumescent liposuction (wet) the fatty tissue is not prepped with solution. However this method is not used today. In the USA the terms ”wet” and ”superwet” liposuction are used. These terms only concern the amount of solution that is used. Such a distinction is rarely made among European clinics.
Ultrasound that breaks down fat cells
During a liposuction the fat structure is broken down by the surgeons mechanical force used to move the probe back and forth through the fatty layer. The soft area makes this fairly simple but in harder more fibrous (dense connective tissue) areas such as the stomach, hips or back, more force is needed as it can be more difficult to get the fat to loosen.
Thus when liposuctioning large fatty deposits or fibrous areas one sometimes works on the fat using a ultrasound equipped probe before it is sucked out. The ultrasound waves break down the fat and one can easily suck out the ”melted” fat.
Liposuction with ultrasound support takes longer because of the extra stage and is also slightly more expensive but also seen as more effective when removing large amounts of fat or when treating harder, more fibrous areas. This method is also seen as more effective in second procedures and also procdues some skin tightening in the treated area.
The procedure does however come with an increased risk for external and internal burn and nerve damage. In the USA the method is known as UAL- Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction.
Vibrations facilitate the surgeons work
In order to break down the fat layer so that the fat cells can be sucked out the surgeon has previously needed to rely on his/her own arm strength. This has proven tiresome and according to some surgeons also increases the risk of unevenness. To solve this, a probe powered by a small engine whose vibrations facilitate the surgeons work as been developed.
Using a vibration boosted probe makes the procedure slightly quicker but also slightly more trying on the tissue. In the USA liposuction using a motorised probe is known as PAL – Power Assisted Liposuction.
Many who use this technique suggest that because this method results in more lively surgeons it is easier to move the probe back and forth and the result is often more even or at least reduces the risk of visible unevenness.
Conclusion about method for traditional liposuction
As a patient it is good to know that a modern liposuction performed with traditional approch involves a wet technique, and when necessary, supported by ultrasound.
If the cosmetic surgeon has access to a motor driven probe you are guaranteed the latest technology for traditional liposuction is at the clinics and your disposal. The choice of method that your surgeon then chooses is not guided by the clinics limited resources but by your specific needs.