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Smart Lipo - Smarter for Stubborn Fatty Areas Than Liposuction

Jan 27, 2008
Fat. It's part of the human condition. It accumulates under our skin, especially as we get older, right where we don't want it. Diet and exercise can really help, and they're good for our general health, too, so they're the first line of attack against overweight. But sometimes even the high-power gym types, the folks who work out all the time, simply can't get rid of those lumpy, fatty areas. Many of my patients are asking me about a new treatment they're hearing about, called "Smart Lipo."

What is Smart Lipo? It's laser liposuction, and it's a new method of "body sculpting" for fatty areas. It's not a solution for overweight or a replacement for other treatments addressing larger areas that need reduction. What it does is target limited areas and remove the fat, with certain advantages over previous options for this kind of treatment.

Here's an example. I had a client call me the other day about this new treatment - "Is it right for me?" she asked. She is a very fit, active middle-aged mother of three children in college and beyond. "It's driving me crazy," she said - "my weenie roll." What? Saddlebags, love handles, OK, but - what was this?

Turns out that's what she calls a roll of fat across her lower abdomen, about the size and shape of a ballpark frankfurter. Although that part of her is in very good tone, she has a C-section scar there, and her pregnancies have loosened her skin just enough that fat accumulates above the scar. She hates the way it makes the front of her pants, not to mention her swimsuit, bulge out.

Alternatives for a patient like this, in the past, have included surgery - for instance, the procedure called the tummy tuck. Or a cosmetic dermatologist might have recommended traditional liposuction. The advantages of laser liposuction over both of these procedures include avoiding general anesthesia and the recovery process associated with that. Tummy tuck surgery generally involves loosening and redraping the skin. Both procedures are considered invasive, and they are more than a patient like this one needs for a localized fat problem. Standard liposuction can also leave grooves and ripples on the surface of the loosened skin, giving patients less improvement in appearance than they hoped for.

Laser liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure, done in the office under local anesthesia. Here's how it works: laser energy targets the fat cells and liquefies them. They are then withdrawn with super-fine tubes. The laser energy also seals off fine blood vessels, reducing blood leakage and bruising in the tissues. No stitches are necessary, and there's minimal scarring. This procedure also stimulates collagen production and causes a tightening of the skin over the area, another benefit over regular liposuction. After the procedure, the patient wears a compression garment for a week or two.

Smart Lipo is a low-pain procedure, accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. Recovery time is less than with standard liposuction, usually a day or two as opposed to a week. Many patients see the results they want after a single treatment.

"Is it safe?" my client wanted to know. The record is very good; Smart Lipo has been in widespread use for several years in Europe and South America, and the FDA approved it here in the US over a year ago.

That's what I told this client about Smart Lipo, and it's what I'm telling others who ask. Smart Lipo can be the answer for many of the fat problems that drive us crazy: besides love handles and saddlebags, the tummy fat, arms and thigh fat, jowls and neck and under the chin fat, back fat, and male chest fat (yes, I am talking about man boobs). So this did turn out to be a perfect treatment for my client and her abdominal fat, and for anyone looking to remove limited amounts of fat in targeted areas, up to about eight pounds. Anyone desiring to remove more fat than this will want to discuss one of the other procedures with a cosmetic dermatologist or other professional specialist.

But aren't we lucky to live at a time when technology is giving us such great, individualized, smart alternatives for getting rid of pesky fat?
About the Author
James C. Fairfield, MD has established the oldest and most respected dermatology practice in the Delaware Valley. For more free cosmetic dermatology information and resources and to sign up for his free report, Erase the Years, visit his web site at http://www.cmderm.com
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