Laser lipolysis, commonly known as ‘laser lipo’, is a non-invasive liposculpture procedure for the removal of stubborn pockets of fat such as saddlebags, love handles and double chins. It can effectively reduce areas of fat resistant to diet or exercise with fewer side effects than traditional procedures such as liposuction. The procedure uses a laser to effectively ‘melt’ unwanted fat on the face and body, and then either allows to body to metabolise the melted fat or uses ‘aspiration’, a form of suction that allows the practitioner to remove greater quantities of fat.
Although it has been touted as a lunchtime treatment, laser lipolysis is classified as a minor surgical procedure as the surgeon will need to make a small incision and the area being treated will be numbed with local anaesthetic. Because you are awake throughout the procedure, there are fewer risks involved than with traditional liposuction, which is often done under general anaesthetic. Laser lipolysis is not a weight loss treatment and is not suited to people who are significantly overweight, it is better for those with small localised areas of stubborn fat. The results give rise to a more harmonious body shape in a short time, without the bruising and swelling of more aggressive procedures.
Anyone who has unwanted, stubborn areas of fat may be a candidate for laser lipolysis. The ideal candidate should be at, or close to, their healthy body weight and have realistic expectations of what the treatment can achieve. People who have a significant amount of weight to lose or are obese are not suitable for this treatment as it is designed to contour and shape the body rather than provide significant weight loss. Pregnant women are also not suitable for this treatment. The best way to find out if you are a suitable candidate for laser lipolysis is to book a consultation with a doctor or surgeon who is experienced in the treatment.
Depending on whether or not the doctor also uses suction you can expect to lose a fist-sized amount of fat from the treated area. It will take your body three to six months to naturally metabolise and eliminate the liquid fat so you can see the final result, although you may notice a difference after one to two months. The results are more dramatic and immediate where suction is used. The heat from the laser can also help tighten the skin so you may instantly feel more toned.
Laser lipolysis is a very safe treatment with less associated risks and side effects that surgical liposuction, however, it is a minor surgical procedure so there are some risks involved.
The most common side effect after laser lipolysis is swelling and bruising but this is temporary and should subside within a couple of days. These side effects are usually worse if you have had suction-assisted laser lipolysis.
There is also a risk of infection so make sure you take the antibiotics prescribed to you buy your doctor and avoid drinking alcohol whilst taking them. To reduce the risk of any complications occurring, follow the post treatment advice given to you by your doctor.
Don’t be fooled by the lunch-time lipo headlines associated with this treatment, while is has much faster recovery time and is far less invasive than surgery it is still a minor surgical procedure and will involve some downtime. You may have swelling and bruising and may be quite sore for a couple of days after the procedure. The swelling should subside within five to 10 days however bruising can last for up to three weeks.
You can usually leave straight afterward but you may be a bit drowsy and numb from the anaesthetic so it is a good idea to get someone to drive you home. Your doctor may give you a couple of days’ course of antibiotics to avoid infection. Make sure you take these as directed.
You may also be given a compression garment to wear. This will help with lymphatic drainage and speed up the healing process so wear it for as long as your doctor suggests.
Most people can resume normal activities after a couple of days but you should avoid strenuous activities for a couple of weeks after treatment. You should also avoid firm massaging of the area for a few months after treatment.
The doctor or surgeon will usually make surgical markings on the areas being treated to serve as a guide during the procedure. You will then be injected with a local anaesthetic to numb the area and allow the doctor or surgeon to make a small incision through which to infiltrate the rest of the anaesthetic. This small incision will also be the point through which the laser in inserted (inside a thin tube or cannula). Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, the doctor will insert the laser fibre and begin the treatment. You will be awake throughout the procedure but should not feel anything other than a bit of pressure or tugging on the area. Sometimes you can experience some heat from the laser which feels like being flicked with an elastic band. This will only happen in areas that the anaesthetic has not fully reached and your doctor can stop the procedure and add more anaesthetic if necessary. The treatment takes between one to two hours depending on how many areas you are having treated and the size of the area being treated. The doctor will move the laser around under the skin, using its heat to melt the fat in your problem areas. The melted fat can either be sucked out in much the same way as liposuction or left to be metabolised buy your own body. The suction assisted technique, known as aspiration, allows the doctor to remove more fat but is slightly more invasive.