Is SmartLipo™ Right for You? The Fact and Fiction.
Personally, I believe that the SmartLipo™, a laser assisted liposculpting device, is an advancement in liposculpting. However it is not for everyone and your surgeon should know the selection process and criteria for offering this type of liposculpting. Otherwise disappointment will certainly occur. It is important to consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. What is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon? No other Board Certification, whether in internal medicine or general surgery, etc. requires this type of training.
I will go over what is purported that the SmartLipo™ can do, and then add important comments. Being a Plastic Surgeon with 18 years of contouring experience, I can educate you on whether this specific tool is for you.
On one SmartLipo™ website, statements like these are made. Many are true but need further explanation in order for you to fully realize the potential of SmartLipo™ and to see if it will meet your expectations. My comments are in italics following each statement commonly related to SmartLipo™ by marketing sources.
Ideal Candidates for SmartLipo™
Good or ideal candidates for SmartLipo™ are those:
- Who are in good health with a regular exercise routine and are within at least 25 lbs of his or her ideal body weight. (Find out whether you are within these criteria using the ideal body weight calculator.)
- With localized body fat deposits that have responded poorly to diet and exercise; and
- Who are motivated to get rid of these areas permanently maintain a healthy lifestyle.
This emphasis on maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important when it comes to any type of liposculpting especially if you’re dealing with small areas. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is permanent solution unless you do the healthy thing and maintain your weight. An extra pound or so can start to change the permanent nature of any liposculpting. Some surgeons will not emphasis this important truth. I have seen patients “out eat” their liposculpting. The reason for this is that liposculpting only removes a certain majority (50% to 80%) of fat cells in a region. A minority of fat cells remain and they behave like any other fat cell. Fat cells are just storage containers for excess calories. A fat cell can grow to 500 times its normal size if given the calories. So if you over eat after liposculpting the new fat will tend to be distributed more uniformly through out the body but the new fat will also be stored in the areas that underwent liposculpting too. See ’Why Your Body Does Not Care.’
SmartLipo™ might be right for you if:
- You don’t have a lot of time to spend in recovery. – SmartLipo™ patients are typically back to work within 1–2 days following the procedure. Bandages are removed 1–2 weeks after that.
This is true if you fit the weight criteria and you don’t tend to be a “wimp”. Most of the soreness is a “bruise like soreness” with a variable pattern of bruising. Most people can function with this type of soreness when the SmartLipo™ is limited to a couple of liposuction site, i.e. abdomen and flanks or lateral and medial thighs. If more sites are included then the recovery can be longer.
- You’ve dieted and exercised, but can’t loose your “love handles” or other well localized areas of fat deposits. – Fat, or adipose tissue, can be very hard to get rid of through exercise and diet alone especially as we get older. SmartLipo™ can be a simple solution to remove stubborn fat permanently.
This is true in ideal candidates. Despite diet and exercise the fat cells that tend to give it up last and take it up first are genetically programmed to do so. In other words we inherent our tendency to put fat in certain areas. Under the microscope these fat cells might look like all the other fat cell in your body but physiologically they behave different. These cells are more insulin sensitive. Insulin is the hormone that causes our bodies to store all excess energy whether it is sugar or fat.
- You want a procedure that is FDA approved. – The SmartLipo™ device was approved in November of 2006, and today is one of the fasting-growing, safest procedures in the cosmetic surgery field.
This is true, but all other types of liposculpting devices are approved by the FDA. The FDA does not comment or approve based on the results, but only on the fact that it can remove fat. They focus on whether the fat removal is of a low risk compared to prior procedures. FDA approval does not denote that you will have the result you want. A qualified plastic surgeon can guide you the best on making the proper surgical choice for the outcome you want.
- You don’t want loose skin after a procedure. – “Many patients of traditional liposuction find that their skin does not adjust to the reduction of fat deposits. This tendency often results in unattractive “droops.” These patients often require skin lifts that can lead to scars, thus rendering the initial liposuction treatment useless. But by pulling the surrounding skin inward, SmartLipo™ laser technology can reconstruct the layers immediately under the patient’s skin, completely eliminating skin drooping."
Not necessarily true. If you are an “ideal candidate” and don’t have a bunch of stretch marks then there is a reasonable chance that skin contraction can take place. The skin contraction is never enough to equal your skin quality at age 16. SmartLipo™ is much better in the neck than the abdomen especially after pregnancy in skin contraction. In the SmartLipo™ brochure the picture of the abdomen is a great example of what the SmartLipo™ can’t do than what the SmartLipo™ can do for skin contraction of the abdomen. This patient actually had a small amount of fat in the abdomen and fell within the “ideal category”. The problem is that she has stretch marks after pregnancy. The look of the abdomen after SmartLipo™ went from the texture of a “prune” to that of a raisin. Despite the heat energy of the laser, over-stretched skin with stretch marks do not contract well. The technology does not “reconstruct the layers immediately under” a stretch mark.
- You want something more affordable than traditional liposuction. – “The cost of the SmartLipo™ procedure depends on how many areas are being treated, but just your neck starts at $2,000. The average traditional liposuction procedure on an abdomen costs about $6,500. The average SmartLipo™ abdomen procedure costs $5,000. This difference in pricing represents a 30% cost savings.”
Actually treatment prices vary from region to region. In Shreveport, Louisiana the costs are comparable. But don’t be persuaded based on price although it is very tempting. Get an assessment by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon first. Paying less but not getting what you expect is worse than paying more and getting what you desire. That’s why consulting a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is important. You will get a significantly better analysis and recommendation than someone who only does liposculpting of any kind. I won’t do liposculpting on someone who is not a good candidate or I think I’m unable to get him/her close to what they desire. I prefer happy patients than disappointed patients no matter what they pay. You can’t take back a result and often times it is difficult to fully correct contour problems after liposculpting of any type. In fact I always recommend patients who need a tummy tuck to have associated liposuction at the same time instead of before a tummy tuck. This is because of the tremendous scarring that occurs underneath the skin in the fatty layer after liposuction. It is impossible to stretch that scarred tissue and remove as much skin and fat that would give them the optimal result from a tummy tuck. I include liposuction of the lateral abdomen in my price for a tummy tuck.
- You want permanent results. – “Once the fat is removed from a particular area of the body, it will never return. If you gain fat in the future, it will be deposited elsewhere on your body.
To be a good candidate for SmartLipo™, you should have realistic expectations about the procedure’s capabilities. And while SmartLipo™ can improve your appearance and self-confidence, it won’t necessarily match your mental ideal, nor will it cause other people to act differently toward you. Before you decide to have SmartLipo™, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your doctor during your consultation visit.”
The first part of this is not true because the remaining fat cells left behind will grow if fed. It is true that fat will be deposited in other areas as well. The second part is true and by getting proper advice from someone skilled in multiple contouring procedures you will more than likely get the best recommendation about the surgical interventions necessary.
Make sure you are educated on what the realistic expectations of this procedure are. Remember, the ideal candidate exercises and eats a well balanced diet and has localized areas of fatty deposits, not generalized. In my practice this less than 25% of the people who consult me for SmartLipo™ are ideal candidates. The rest either need traditional types of liposuction or tummy tucks to have the best obtainable results.