Liposuction is the top cosmetic procedure in the US with over 400 thousand people getting this procedure every year. So when you hear about a non-invasive option, like laser body sculpting, you logically want to check it out.
But is it safe? Is it right for your patients?
We’re here to shed some light on this procedure and answer some questions you may have about the procedure.
Let’s take a look.
What is Laser Body Sculpting?
Laser body sculpting, aka laser lipo, is a relatively new procedure that is intended to replace traditional liposuction or be used as a supplementary procedure.
As you know, traditional lipo is a major surgery. It, therefore, carries the risks, recovery time and costs associated with a major surgery.
Laser lipo, on the other hand, uses a laser to heat up the fat cells under the skin by:
- Having the patient lie in a reclined position
- Applying a cooling gel to the skin
- Carefully moving an applicator across the skin
- Targeting fat cells under the skin
- Melting those fat cells
- The body then filters the cells out
This non-invasive technique technique reduces the number of fat cells in the body.
While traditional lipo has been approved by the FDA for several decades, laser body sculpting has only been approved since the early 2000s when the technology had improved enough to become a viable alternative to traditional lipo.
It can be used as a stand alone or an adjunct procedure to traditional lipo because the procedure is more limited and takes much longer to cover larger areas.
Is Laser Lipo an Effective Lipo Alternative?
Studies do show that laser body sculpting can effectively remove fat deposits, although, as stated above it takes longer to cover a large area.
Laser lipo is considered less traumatic for the body because these more advanced versions of the procedure require no incision.
Because there is less trauma, the recovery time for laser liposuction is slashed dramatically. Someone who has had laser lipo can typically return to most activities within 1-2 days versus 2 or more weeks with most lipo procedures.
A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal was able to demonstrate significant skin shrinkage (tightening) with this procedure versus traditional lipo. The laser is believed to aid the tightening process.
In this study, 10 women underwent a split procedure — laser on one side, traditional on the other. In each of the women, the laser side showed greater tightening as defined by the measuring of tattooed sections on each side of the women.
Laser body sculpting does have pros but, also some safety concerns to consider.
Safety Concerns with Laser Body Sculpting
Let’s look at some of the safety concerns surrounding this procedure by looking at a recent study that included 537 patients. We linked to the study above for your reference.
Of the 537 patients, 4 patients received burns. Researchers attribute the burns to a rapidly increasing temperature in an area around the very localized area being treated.
Based upon this study, this is less than a 1% chance of receiving a burn. While a 1% chance seems low, for your patients who are typically very concerned about their appearance, this may be too high.
1 patient got an infection which was treated by antibiotics. The patient fully recovered.
You may or may not see this as a safety risk, but we’ll include it here because it is a risk.
In the study we’re discussing, 19 people required revisions after the primary procedure. That’s about 3.5%, which is rather low for cosmetic procedures.
For comparison, rhinoplasties very commonly need revisions at rates of as much as 25% because of the delicate nature of the nose-healing process.
Revisions are needed for laser sculpting because various cells melt at various temperature. Some are simply more “stubborn” than others. This can cause the results to be uneven.
Your patients don’t want that. They want a smooth, sculpted look as the procedure name implies. Fortunately, additional treatments can remedy this.
There are currently no studies that can clearly demonstrate that there is less pain from laser sculpting than with traditional procedures.
What we do know is that the recovery time is much shorter. We might infer from this that the duration of pain is at least shorter even if we can’t compare the intensity reliably.
Additionally, we know that there is less bruising, which also suggests less pain.
Finally, because there are no incisions, there are no wounds to heal. This should reduce pain.
Scarring is incredibly important to your patients. Often their pursuit of beauty and perfection drives them to have procedures like this.
In the 1% who are burned by the procedure, some will have a lifelong scar result. Some scars are deeper and more unattractive than others.
But we must always ask…
How many of these side effects are due to the inherent nature of a procedure that heats cells to 900 degrees? And how much should be attributed to the skill of the surgeon?
At this time, that is unclear. More studies are needed.
What we do know is the device and process are designed to support the doctor’s efforts to prevent such complications. And you as a doctor will find our device incredibly easy to learn to work with.
Is Laser Body Sculpting Safer Than Traditional Lipo?
Liposuction has its own risks including:
- Fluid accumulation
- Organ puncture
- Kidney/Heart failure
The risk of death from traditional liposuction much higher than other surgical cosmetic procedures.
In comparison, laser body sculpting is much safer. But both procedures have risks. Those risked can be reduced through education and taking necessary safety precautions.
Should You Offer Laser Lipo?
Whether or not you offer this procedure in your office is a decision that must be made for your practice. There are obviously some benefits to offering this procedure either in conjunction with traditional liposuction or as a stand-alone procedure.
Our laser body sculpting system Verj?(TM) is the next generation of laser technology. It’s not invasive and helps your patients get the results they seek.
To learn more, contact us to discuss.