Smartlipo – Cost, Procedure, Risks, Recovery, Before and After Pictures
Smartlipo refers to laser-assisted liposuction which involves the use of local anesthesia in place of general anesthesia. The procedure involves reduced trauma to the body, thereby allowing minimal interruption of normal life as well as faster healing than conventional liposuction. Instead of manual breakdown of fat deposits by a surgeon, the laser of Smartlipo liquefies fat, which can then be easily suctioned out.
The procedure of fat elimination and liquefied fat suctioning associated with Smartlipo is a type of Tumescent Liposuction. The technique includes injection of a solution of lidocaine, saline, and epinephrine into the fatty areas of your body that need to be remedied. This tumescent liquid dulls the treatment areas and also significantly reduces bleeding. Due to this, the process can be carried out while the patient is conscious and with negligible discomfort.
Smartlipo was approved by the FDA of the United States in the year 2007.
Smartlipo: The procedure
In conventional liposuction, blunt force is used to break up large sections of fat which are then sucked out by a large cannula. This traditional procedure can cause significant bruising. The body also takes a longer time to heal from the trauma, thereby resulting in a longer recovery period.
On the other hand, in Smartlipo, a tumescent fluid is used to anesthetize the areas that need to be treated. A calibrated laser is then used to liquefy fat deposits. The liquid fat which materializes due to this process is suctioned out via a tiny incision on the skin’s upper layers.The blood vessels also get sealed during the procedure, thereby leading to lesser bleeding, swelling, and bruising as compared to conventional liposuction.Smartlipo can also be used to enhance those areas treated previously via traditional liposuction, as well as for skin tightening.
- The areas that need treatment are marked by the surgeon. A tumescent fluid having a local anesthetic is injected into the areas. It helps in numbing the area, controlling bleeding, and easier suctioning out of fluids. Smartlipo does not require intravenous replacement of fluids.
- The laser fiber is put inside a small cannula, which is then inserted into the skin via a tiny incision that is sufficient just for the cannula.
- The laser is moved to and fro across the area along with simultaneousfiring of the laser. This leads to melting of fat cells. The resultant liquefied fat and excess tumescent fluid are then easily suctioned out via the cannula.
- The laser also helps in sealing the blood vessels which results in their immediate coagulation, thus ensuring lowered swelling, bleeding, and bruising.
- The collagen occurring on skin may also get affected by the laser. This causes the skin to shrink and tighten. The skin tightening may only become obvious after many weeks or months.
Only one Smartlipo treatment is generally needed by a majority of patients. The length of treatment sessions can however vary and is dependent on the size of the treatment area, as well as the number of areas that require fat reduction. A normal session can last anywhere between one to three hours.
Smartlipo: Areas that can be treated
Smartlipo can be used to treat all the areas which can be corrected via traditional liposuction. Due to the small size of the cannula, Smartlipo can also be used to treat those areas which are difficult to correct via conventional liposuction. The knees, neck, stomach, arms, love handles, thighs, legs, the breast parts that bulge out from the side and above sections of a bra, and other distressing areas can be easily and safely treated with Smartlipo.
Recovery from Smartlipo
Healing after Smartlipo involves the below listed steps:
- There may be numbness after the procedure. It usually fades away within a few days. Rest for two days is recommended, before resumption of work.
- Patients should not smoke or consume blood thinners like Aspirin for a few days after Smartlipo procedure.
- Swelling lasts for about one week. It however does not hamper normal activities or the daily routine. The skin typically reverts to normality about 3 months after a Smartlipo procedure.
- After care instructions provided by the doctor must be adhered to. Compression bandages for alleviating swelling as well as mild pain medications may also be prescribed by the doctor.
- Regular follow-ups with the doctor during the recovery period is essential. He/she will verify if the treated areas are healing properly. The doctor will also check for presence of any infection or scarring.
Risks associated with Smartlipo
Just like other surgical procedures, laser-assisted Smartlipo also comes with certain risks.
- There may be mild bruising and swelling.
- In rare cases, patients may suffer from hematoma or accumulation of blood below the skin, and/or infections.
- The heat of laser can potentially cause burns.
- Long term risks include uneven or asymmetrical results and mild scarring.
Cost of Smartlipo
Smartlipo is a cosmetic procedure and most health insurance companies generally do not cover it. The cost of Smartlipo is dependent on the number and size of treatment areas. For example, neck treatment may cost about $3,500 and above, while abdominal procedures can cost $5,000 or more.