Liposuction vs Liposculpture
The removal of unwanted fat through liposuction does not always result in the shape of the desired body contour. This has lead to a liposuction concept known as liposculpture. What is liposculpture and how is it different? Is it a better at achieving natural body contours and a more attractive body shape? Who is it best used on?
Liposculpture moves beyond the removal of just localized areas of too much body fat to a more artistic approach to fat removal. Instead of using large bore cannulas which indiscriminately remove fat rapidly, smaller size cannulas are used. These tools are more selective about how much and where fat is removed. Smaller cannulas may also be combined with powered equipment such as oscillating, ultrasonic and laser-assisted liposuction devices.
But the most important element in liposculpture is that of the surgeon. There has to be an appreciation of what makes up natural and pleasing body contours. The tools used are only as good as the hands that are directing them in shaping new contours. There also has to be an understanding of what the structure of fat looks like underneath. In some areas there may only be a thin fat layer which can reveal an improved body contour through superficial cannula extraction. Such aggressive right-under-the skin fat removal must be applied carefully to avoid scarring and undesireable skin retractions. Areas such as the inner knee, neck, back rolls, axillary breast and flanks are good examples of where superficial liposculpture must be used to get good contouring results as there are not deeper fat layers.
While liposculpture sounds appealing, it is not a method that is needed for most liposuction patients. The most common liposuction patient has larger amounts of fat on the abdomen, waistline, thighs and arms. In these areas there are two distinct fat layers, superficial and deep. Extraction from the deeper layers is needed and should be the first layer that the cannula enters. Treating the superficial layers as well, while improving the amount of contour reduction, will increase the risks exponentially of surface contour irregularities. The abdomen, arms and inner thighs are particularly at risk for this problem with superficial liposculpture. The quality of the skin, its thickness and elasticity must be assessed to determine if it is wise to attempt removal of fat right under the skin.
While good marketing and pictures of models (who have never had the surgery) are appealing as sales tools for liposculpture surgery, it is important to remember that traditional liposuction methods with solely deep fat removal will satisfy most patients. Liposculture techniques should be applied judiciously and applied to areas that are best served by them. It is a liposuction technique that takes into account the anatomy of the fat and the contouring goals and not a method that replaces traditional liposuction for most body areas.
Dr. Barry Eppley