Laser Liposuction

Laser liposuction ('SmartLipo' is one example) is a new procedure for removal of fat by laser technology. The laser companies selling and the Doctors using it state this "new" liposuction is virtually pain free, and is performed awake with no sedation. In other words, it is another one of these procedures at the spa with no down time. Does it sound familiar and too good to be true? As usual, it is. Last year it was Lipozap and LipoDissolve. Now it is LipoSmart, SmartLipo, Final inches, LaserShaping, etc.

Our office contacted 'SmartLipo'. I asked for a demonstration. They said they were selling over the phone, without demonstration. They sent a DVD that was not impressive at all. In short, they could not backup their claims. The media are full of these "wonderful" claims that are only full of promises without results.

The manufacturers that sell and the doctors that buy the so called revolutionary machine, say that it is like a "spa or salon" type of procedure. This plays on the patient's fear and gives them the impression it will be "a breeze" with a great result. These "spa", "No down time", "Anesthesia Free" conditions are misleading, and also raise the chance of a poor result.

This "Sedation Free", approach does not allow the surgeon to remove the amounts of fat usually removed with typical Liposuction, on account of pain.

Lasers have advanced in many fields of medicine and continue to evolve and improve. The Laser Assisted Liposuction machines are FDA approved. But FDA approved doesn't mean perfect. It gives the feeling that it is superior to other methods just with the word "Laser". It must be understood that it is merely and only a marketing tool.

The public must be made aware of these unscrupulous advertisements. People must and can know the facts by getting true and honest information from Board Certified Surgeons in Plastic Surgery.

American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) (215) 587-9322

They may also contact members of the following renowned Plastic Surgery Societies:

American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) (800) 635-0635

American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) (888) 272-7711

California Society of Plastic Surgery (CSPS) (800) 722-2777

Most Plastic Surgeons and patients are not impressed with the performance of this laser sold by the manufacturers for about $135,000.

Certified Plastic Surgeons. The manufacturer approaches doctors who have no training or expertise in cosmetic or plastic surgery or even surgery. Indeed, many of these Doctors with specialties in other fields are looking to supplement their income due to poor insurance compensation, high malpractice insurance and other overhead costs. They are very attracted to the "easy" income, without questioning the type of equipment, its value and safety.

OB/Gynecologists, General Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Radiologists and other specialties were drawn to these procedures with minimal or no training and no experience in cosmetic/plastic surgery.

Many of these Doctors seem to believe that the machine is "IT" and "IT" produces the results. "IT" IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! For liposuction, like other procedures, the safety and results depend on the operator much more than on the machine.

Many Plastic Surgeons found that laser assisted liposuction has limitations, such as the degree of fat that can be removed, risk of burning the skin due to high laser temperature, as well as other concerns.

The patient may be awake but it is not pain free. Patient's pain limitations and comfort tolerance make the procedure last longer and the result less satisfactory.

Even though the "spa" setting is appealing, liposuction is a surgical procedure, not a massage or a manicure session. Intelligent people should know the difference between hype advertising and factual advertising. If they don't, they'll find out at their own expense.

The non-laser techniques have better results. "It is not fancy", it is not perfect but it is for real. You get the result.

At this point, our only recommendation for the use of laser liposuction is reserved for small pockets of fat, such as the chin area. Simply put, the laser liposuction is a very limited tool. Until the laser technology improves to a point where a laser can actually perform liposuction, laser liposuction is a marketing tool. In the future, I am confident it will become a reliable tool and then will be in our Laser Center.

14 years ago the ultrasonic technology started like that with the same kind of problems. It was ultrasonic assisted liposuction. For the past 5 years, it is ultrasonic liposuction. The ultrasonic technology has evolved and now, no longer assists the liposuction. It does the liposuction.

The 2 American Companies delivering that technology are Vaser and Lysonix.

Lysonix is now used in our practice after having Vaser for 3 years.


Actually, the companies and Doctors advertising Laser Liposuction, know better. They know that other than small pockets, like the chin, the laser cannot do it. In order to be some what ethical, they use the term "Laser Assisted Liposuction". It means it is a conventional Liposuction assisted by a laser. The laser doesn't do the liposuction and they don't say it does, but the word "LASER" is in. Tricky, yes, but the Trick works and that is the goal.

The VICIOUS cycle:

Regulations are very lenient as to who can perform certain procedures, so it is very important for the consumer to educate themselves about the procedure and what surgeon to pick. The selection of the surgeon is the most important. Please do your homework.

Regulations are also very lenient as to the market of that technology. Indeed, the companies are not mandated to sell to qualified Doctors. They get the stamp "FDA Approved" and they sell to whatever Doctor is willing to buy the equipment.

FDA Approved doesn't mean flawless. Actually these machines have flaws regarding safety, result and limitations. The companies throw them into the markets through the media. They pay the media to spread unrealistic claims. The public, informed by the media calls the Doctor for the "New Wonder".

The Doctor receives calls from potential patients and feels the machine might be a good adjunct to the practice. Then, the Doctor contacts the company for information. The company does mislead the Doctor with all kinds of "fluff". There is no other source of information other than the company.

Convinced by the company, the Doctor buys the machine. The machine bought, the Doctor realizes he's been "had". The results are not there and there are complications. Upon that discovery, the doctor quits using the machine and gets rid of it.

The company can be sued. Its lawyers are prepared for the doctor who is not prepared for the aggravation of a costly legal battle. The lawyers know that and drag out the suit until a point where the Doctor is tired and gives up. Then, the company offers the Doctor a settlement. It is a small fraction of the money lost but he accepts. To sum up, the Doctor lost money with the company, lost patients with the machine and is lucky if he hasn't been sued for complications or poor results.

It's been my ordeal with the first 3 lasers I bought in 1995. The FDA doesn't tell us how they "pass" medical equipment. They seem much tougher on medications than on equipment.

I trusted these big companies and the FDA approval stamp. No other source of information was available. Besides, the Doctors are not engineers and this complex technology is beyond their medical scope. They must trust the manufacturers. The only way Doctors can see is by asking for a demonstration. If the manufacturer can't show their machine at work, it is a red flag.

'LipoSmart' tried but thanks to my expensive lessons in 1995, I know better.

The Doctor is a victim of the company but the main victim is the public. So far, nothing has been done to prevent that type of medical scandal.

For you, the consumer, you must understand the necessity to do your homework with doctors that place the patients' care before the patients' money. I am sorry, but I cannot tell you better.

Related Articles:

For more information on new Liposuction Techniques, go to the "Emerging Techniques" found in the following article:

Another article, "Lipodissolve: Under Scrutiny" can be found by connecting to the following link:

Note: For additional education, there has been a compelling article written in "Health Magazine", February 2008 edition, on how the Cosmetic Surgery "Boom" has affected Doctor's Practices. You can view this article online by going to:

Dr. Carli, a leading plastic surgeon in the greater Los Angeles area, would be happy to help you achieve your aesthetic goals! Feel free to call us at (951) 688-8660 with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding Dr. Carli, the Magnolia Surgery Center, or cosmetic surgery. We look forward to speaking with you!

Magnolia Plastic Surgery
10694 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA 92505
(951) 688-8660