The number of available liposuction techniques has grown rapidly in recent years. While each method has its own advantages, disadvantages, advocates, and detractors, most experienced cosmetic surgeons agree that the experience, skill, and judgment of the operator are far more important to a attractive and safe result than the specific method or brand of technology used to perform the procedure.
Tumescent Liposuction - More a method for liposuction anesthesia than a specific technique, tumescent liposuction entails injection of a large volume of dilute local anesthesia into an area until it becomes firm. Actual removal of the fat can then be accomplished using a hand-held syringe, a traditional vacuum device, or some of the newer techniques described below. The big advantage of tumescent liposuction is the ability to perform the procedure without the risks of general anesthesia.
Suction-Assisted (Traditional) Liposuction - A stainless steel tube or cannula is introduced into the fat deposits, which are then suctioned out with the assistance of a powerful vacuum. The technique is effective and still a preferred method for many experienced surgeons. It may, however, be associated with more surrounding tissue trauma and bruising due to the added destruction needed to first manually disrupt the fat prior to removal.
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL) - Sound waves and heat are transmitted from the tip of the cannula to liquefy fat prior to its removal. Because of internal complications such as burning and scarring, the technique is not as popular today as it was when first introduced.
VASER-Assisted Liposuction - A modified form of ultrasound-assistance, bursts of less intensive energy are used to break up the fat cells.
External Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction - Application of ultrasound energy through the surface of the skin prior to the procedure has been said to melt fat but supporting evidence is meager and the technique has been associated with skin burns.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) - The tip of the cannula is driven rapidly back and forth by a motor or compressed air to help break up fat and fibrous tissue with less effort. Relatively new, its advantages are still under investigation.
Laser-Assisted Liposuction - Laser energy can be used to melt fat inside the cells (laser lipolysis) that then allows for gentler removal through smaller cannulas or tiny incisions. Muscle and nerve tissue are better protected by employing targeted energy. Different machines feature different laser wavelengths. Well-known brands (all with registered trademarks) include Smartlipo, CoolLipo, SlimLipo, ProLipo, LipoLite, and LipoTheme.
Water Jet-Assisted Liposuction - A slightly pressurized stream of saline is employed to break apart fat tissue and then gently remove the loosened fat cells rather than destroying them. While still new, this minimally-invasive technique appears to be more precise, less traumatic, and safer.