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Dear Dr. Togba,

Q.  Does ultrasonic liposuction really "melt" fat? I know you can do liposuction on different areas, but can you do arms? What is the long term effect?

A. Ultrasonic liposuction doesn’t exactly melt fat; rather it liquefies fat before it is removed with suction. Electrical energy is translated into high-frequency sound, which is then transduced through a hand piece into mechanical vibrations emitted at the tip of a hollow titanium rod. The fat cells implode and liquefy, then the fatty emulsion is aspirated. The advantages of ultrasonic liposuction are easier removal of fat in hard to treat areas (fibrotic areas with dense tissue) and more precise sculpting in difficult areas. Ultrasonic liposuction is not "better" than tumescent liposuction, but, rather, it is better suited to achieving optimum results in fibrotic areas including the male chest, upper abdomen, "love handles,"and dense tissue areas. In fact, ultrasonic liposuction is an adjunct to regular tumescent liposuction; I always employ the tumescent technique during liposuction and, in certain cases, I use the ultrasonic wand as an additional surgical tool. Tumescent liposuction alone can actually be preferable for areas with thin skin, such as chins and arms. The arms respond well to liposuction; I use a thin cannula best suited to the thin skin of that area. The long term effect is that those fat cells are gone forever.

Dr. T