Dr Michael Newman on Surgical Liposuction vs Non-Invasive Methods

Liposuction is the surgical procedure of fat removal using suction pressure from a long metal straw called cannula. The cannula is placed through small incisions on the body in order to suck out the fat from the problem area. It dates back to the 1970s when it was first used in Europe. The technique became popular in the 1980s when tumescent solution was invented to minimise bleeding.

Ever since then, liposuction remains extremely popular amongst patients looking to contour stubborn areas such as the abdomen, back, neck, arms and thighs. It is not a solution for weight loss as patients only lose a few pounds after the surgery. In order to get long-lasting results, candidates must be near or at their goal weight.


Image by: www.microaire.com

More recent advancements in liposuction use heat to help dissolve fat and tighten the skin.  The heat can be created in several ways including ultrasound, radiofrequency, laser and helium plasma.  Brand name examples of these heat technologies include Vaser, Thermi, Smartlipo, and J-Plasma, respectively.

All of these technologies work in a similar way to help melt the fat so that it can be removed more easily and more evenly.  In addition, these technologies can offer the benefit of tightening the overlying skin.

There are also mechanical technologies that help with fat removal.  Specifically, MicroAire is a system that automatically moves the cannula forward and backwards to help remove fat.  Tickle Lipo is a system that automatically moves the cannula in a spiral direction to help remove fat.

In addition to these, various technologies and surgical techniques can be used during liposuction to achieve certain results.  Specifically, High Definition (Hi-Def) Liposuction removes fat in certain patterns to help mimic the pattern of the underlying muscles, creating a more muscular-looking result.

Anaesthesia options also exist.  Most liposuction is performed under general anaesthesia, while the patient is entirely asleep.  However, many surgeons now offer liposuction while the patient is awake in order to minimize risks and recovery.  This can be a good option for many patients, but sometimes results can be limited due to discomfort.

Finally, there are non-surgical options for fat removal.  The most common is CoolSculpting, which eliminates fat cells through extreme cooling of the tissue through a suction cup.  The procedure is performed while awake and no incisions are required.  Generally, the results are not as dramatic as liposuction and multiple treatments may be performed in order to achieve significant improvement, but it is a very effective technology.

Sculpture is another non-surgical fat removal device.  With this technology, fat is removed using radiofrequency energy.  Similarly, results are noticeable but less dramatic than liposuction surgery and multiple treatments may be required to achieve significant improvement.


In summary, there are many different liposuction options available today.  Don’t be misled by fancy brand names and marketing gimmicks. It is best to find a trusted professional who could offer the most effective solution based on individual goals and anatomy. Different doctors will be experienced in different technologies and it is important to let them use the one they are profound in. The reality is, most of these technologies offer a similar result, regardless of the technology used.

Article written by Dr Michael K. Newman, MD, FACs,

IG: drnewmanplasticsurgery