Smart Lipo/Tumescent Liposuction

Tumescent liposculpture is a method of body sculpting in which the excess fat from just beneath the skin is removed by suction using hollow tubes (cannulas). The development of the “tumescent” technique of liposuction in the late 80s significantly improved liposuction safety and patient satisfaction in a number of ways. The treatment area is first anesthetized using dilute local anesthetic solutions and the patient is given oral sedatives. This means the patient can undergo treatment comfortably without the use of general anesthesia or IV sedation. Tumescent liposuction under local anesthesia is extremely safe with very little bleeding and very mild post-procedure pain. Dr. Menkes and Dr. Wang have been performing liposuction for many years with little to no complications and a very high patient satisfaction rate.

SmartLipo is a laser that is used to prepare the body tissues prior to the actual liposuction procedure. The effect of the laser is to actually liquefy the fat cells, which makes it possible to use a smaller size cannula to remove them. This means that only a very small incision is required and it also makes SmartLipo almost pain-free compared to other tumescent liposuction methods. In addition, the recovery time from the procedure is considerably reduced with most patients returning to their everyday routine within a day or so.

What Is SmartLipo?

Think of tumescent liposuction and then improve it with a medical-grade laser. SmartLipo uses laser energy to break up and melt the fat before it is suctioned away by the cannula. Thanks to the assist of the laser energy, SmartLipo enables Dr. Menkes and Dr. Wang to remove more fat, but they can do so with far less trauma to nearby blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissue. This creates less blood loss and subsequent bruising. Because the fat is liquefied, it is also easier to then suction out, and the cannula needed can be smaller than those used for traditional liposuction. This makes for smaller incisions and easier recovery.

A secondary benefit of adding the laser energy to liposuction in SmartLipo is skin tightening. When the body senses heat in the dermis layer of the skin it responds with a “wound healing” mechanism. This tightens the existing collagen structure and also produces new collagen to heal the perceived “wounds,” even though there are not any actual wounds. Collagen provides the skin’s structural framework, so this tightens the skin over the areas where the fat has been removed.

The SmartLipo Procedure

Prior to the SmartLipo procedure, sedation via intramuscular injections and local numbing is administered. While the procedure time varies depending upon the number of areas and the amount of fat removed, the procedure lasts around 1-4 hours. Afterward, a compression girdle (think Spanx) is worn around the clock for 2-3 weeks, except for showering. Patients will feel deep muscle soreness, which is similar to what is felt after a hard workout, and will experience some bruising and swelling that will fade gradually over 2-4 weeks. We recommend 2 days away from work for typical desk jobs and longer for more active jobs. Patients cannot exercise (with the exception of walking) for 1 week after their liposuction procedure. Bruising and swelling typically fades after 1 month, and final results appear within 4-6 months post-op.

Liposculpture/SmartLipo Benefits

  • Done entirely under local anesthesia
  • Safe, excellent results
  • Tumescent technique developed and improved upon over the past 20 years
  • Minimal discomfort and downtime
  • Laser assisted procedure to liquefy fat cells before removal
  • Smaller incision, less invasive
  • Minimal pain, improved experience
  • Fast recovery time, usually 1-2 days
  • Produces collagen to tighten tissues and skin

Would I Be A Good Candidate For SmartLipo?

Just as with traditional liposuction, it’s important to note that SmartLipo is NOT a weight loss procedure. It’s intended to remove isolated pockets of stubborn fat that won’t respond to changes in diet or exercise. In fact, removing too much fat during a liposuction procedure can be dangerous. Dr. Menkes and Dr. Wang prefer their patients to be within roughly 10% of their ideal weight before they have the procedure. If you are of a healthy, stable weight, yet have pockets of unwanted fat, then SmartLipo could be a great procedure for you.

Where Can SmartLipo Be Used?

SmartLipo can be used on the abdomen, upper arms, thighs, flanks, and neck.

What Happens During My SmartLipo Procedure?

SmartLipo is an outpatient procedure at The Menkes Clinic. The target area is first injected with a tumescent saline solution with small amounts of epinephrine and lidocaine. This solution numbs the area and constricts the blood vessels to minimize bleeding.

Dr. Menkes or Dr. Wang will make one or more tiny incisions through which they can insert the laser and then the cannula. The medical-grade laser is inserted first and is moved around so that the laser energy can directly contact the fat cells, rupturing their cell walls. This energy will also tighten the skin in the weeks following your treatment. Next, the cannula is inserted through the same incision, and the liquefied fat and tumescent solution is suctioned out. Any remaining melted fat or tumescent solution is absorbed and removed by the body.

On average, a SmartLipo session with Dr. Menkes or Dr. Wang takes from 1.5 to 2 hours.

What Is Recovery From SmartLipo Like?

The difference in recovery from traditional liposuction to Smartlipo is pretty dramatic. With SmartLipo, the incisions are so small they generally don’t need stitches, so there isn’t really any visible scarring. Because the laser energy melts the fat, the cannula doesn’t have to be moved about aggressively to break it up, as it does in traditional liposuction. This makes for minimal tissue trauma, far less bruising, and minimal pain. Our patients can walk and move about not long after the procedure and most don’t even require pain medication that night. Most patients can drive the next day and return to work in two days.

How Long Will My Results From SmartLipo Last?

The fat removed with SmartLipo is permanently gone. These results are the same as with traditional liposuction. As long as you maintain a healthy weight and incorporate an exercise regimen of some sort into your life, you will enjoy your slimmer contours for the rest of your life.

Is SmartLipo Safe?

The risks with SmartLipo are basically the same as with tumescent liposuction. They are very low. There is a slight risk of burns from the laser energy, but this is usually a byproduct of inexperienced practitioners, not the procedure. Dr. Menkes and Dr. Wang have been performing liposuction for years, and SmartLipo for over a decade. The FDA approved SmartLipo in 2006.

The Menkes Clinic proudly provides patients from Mountain View, CA and surrounding areas with SmartLipo as an alternative to traditional liposuction. Contact us at 650-962-4600 or request an appointment here.

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