Q:  I saw another doctor who recommended liposuction for my belly pouch.  He said the laser would help tighten my skin as well as remove my excess fat.  Is there a difference between laser liposuction and regular liposuction?

 A:  Is there a difference between laser liposuction, ultrasonic assisted liposuction, and standard liposuction?  This is a good question. Over the past 5 years, I have explained this to many patients.  Traditionally, standard liposuction was and is used to contour certain areas like the abdomen, hips, thighs, pelvic roll, back and neck.  Small incisions are made in natural folds or inconspicuous places at the site of the fat deposits.  A suction cannula is introduced and the fat is suctioned out.  This technique is the same no matter which method is used.  The difference is that the laser and ultrasound liquefy the fat which makes it easier to remove in areas with more fibrous tissue such as the upper abdomen and back.  I’ve performed liposuction for over 26 years using various modalities available and have found the results to be similar with all techniques.  At the recent Congress of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in San Francisco, Dr. Triana from Columbia presented her groups’ finding of more than 26,000 liposuction procedures performed over the last 25 years.  All available techniques were used - standard liposuction, ultra sonic assisted liposuction, and laser assisted liposuction.  Her findings were that all modalities of treatment produced similar results.  The level of pain/discomfort was the same.  The amount of skin contracture (tightening) was the same.  The claims made by manufacturers of the different lasers are purely for marketing purposes.