Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction
One of the many variations of liposuction is ultrasound assisted liposuction (UAL). In this technique, the vibrations of the ultrasound energy are used to break the walls of the fat cells which cause them to liquefy. In turn, this makes it much easier for a surgeon to remove the fat. The ultrasonic method is especially useful in cases where the patient has areas of fat that are especially fibrous. In general, some fatty areas of the body can be extra fibrous due to the location of the area on the body, hereditary issues and the fact that a liposuction procedure was performed earlier in the same location on the body.
UAL can be utilized on all areas of the body that can be treated with traditional liposuction methods. However, it is especially effective on areas of the body that need more care and precision. These areas include the chin, the neck, the stomach, the midsection (AKA “love handles”) and male breast tissue.
The procedure starts when the plastic surgeon injects tumescent liquid into the area being treated. The tumescent fluid is a combination of salt water solution, anesthetic and epinephrine. The injection helps to prevent large fluid loss during the fat removal and also makes it easier to remove the targeted fat. The surgeon then uses ultrasonic sound waves that are transmitted by a cannula (a thin vacuum-like tube) which liquefies the fat cells so they can be extracted. Since the fat is turned into a liquid, ultrasound assisted liposuction is normally a more efficient and smoother procedure. It involves less bruising and overall trauma to the body.
Ultrasound assisted liposuction also helps to tighten the skin once the deeper fat deposits are removed. It also allows plastic surgeons to remove larger amounts of fat at once as well as treat denser fat deposits. UAL can also be performed at the same time as a body lift surgery or tummy tuck.
In general, there are two choices when it comes to UAL:
- Internal UAL – is when the ultrasonic liposuction is performed in a one step process. The cannula has an ultrasonic device attached to it which is inserted into the patient in order to loosen the fat and change it into liquid.
- External UAL – is when the cannula is positioned outside the body and projects energy waves through the skin. The area that is targeted is first treated with tumescent fluid before the ultrasonic waves are transmitted.
The recovery time from ultrasound assisted liposuction (as well as liposuction in general) is anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The recovery time varies with each patient.
While UAL is a good technique to remove fat from a patient, there are a few risks associated with the procedure. Due to the amount of heat created during UAL, patients run the risk of scarring, burns and blistering. Seroma can occur when the body tries to fill the void that is created in the body by the fat removal. The body will produce excess fluid that must be removed with a syringe. Patients should also be aware that some swelling and bruising can be present following ultrasonic assisted liposuction.
The overall cost of UAL varies depending on where the patient lives as well as the amount of area that is being treated by the surgeon. Overall, the cost can run anywhere from $1500 all the way to $10,000. Before making a final decision of having UAL (or any other type of liposuction procedure), a patient should consult with an experienced doctor in order to determine if they are an ideal patient for a liposuction procedure.