Smartlipo (Laser Lipolysis) and VASER Liposelection (Ultrasound Lipolysis)
was developed by DEKA Laser in Italy in the early 1990s and had developed an excellent efficacy and safety record prior to its introduction to the UK in September 2006 when following training in Italy I carried out the first treatment at the Snowberry Lane Clinic, Melksham, Wiltshire.
Smartlipo was exciting as for the first time it offered patients an alternative to liposuction or more invasive surgery with the option of treating small areas of unwanted fat under local anaesthetic, safely and with minimal recovery time.
Smartlipo works by delivering a very rapid firing laser to the fatty tissue via a 1mm cannula breaking down the fat cells which are removed immediately. also disrupting other fat cell membranes so they dissipate gradually over the ensuing months. It is this gradual process and the energy that is delivered to the under surface of the skin that stimulates collagen and tissue tightening which can be as much as 30% in a year after the treatment.
A variety of manufacturers have introduced systems into the UK market since 2006, even one confusingly called Smartlipo MPX, but the original Smartlipo remains the gold standard with the longest track record.
Now with our better understanding of the strengths and limitations of the treatment Smartlipo with aspiration (gentle suction of the lasered fat), which is now the standard approach gives consistently good results.
VASER complements Smartlipo perfectly as a heavier duty treatment for larger areas and volumes of fat. The process is similar and it also has a long track record in the USA being developed in 1998 and receiving FDA approval in 2002.
Vaser uses ultrasound energy rather than light to break the fat down and delivers this via a special metal rod 2-3mm thick. The energy delivered breaks down the fat without damaging the other surrounding structures and the energy delivered also heats the tissues and helps tightening of the skin to avoid sagging skin after fat removal.
I use Smartlipo particularly for smaller areas for example the chin and jowl area and delicate areas such as the ankles, it is also good for small areas of fat in any part of the body as a guide in patients with a BMI up to 25.
Smartlipo is also very useful for the areas that need good skin tightening, typically the upper arm bingo wing area and the inner thigh where there is a risk of skin laxity (loose skin) after fat removal.
VASER liposelection is a slightly heavier duty treatment, although the procedure is virtually identical to Smartlipo i.e. local anaesthetic, low risk and minimal recovery time, and is suitable for larger areas e.g., abdomen (stomach), and patients with a BMI up to 30.
There are a few important differences between Smartlipo and VASER:-
- The incisions are slightly longer with VASER but only minimally i.e. 4mm rather than 2mm.
- The volume of local anaesthetic fluid is larger for VASER so leakage post treatment is greater but just for a day or two and absorbent dressings prevent this being a problem.
- During the treatment, eye protection as used for Smartlipo, is not needed for VASER but you will be aware of a high pitched sound via bone conduction during the procedure.
- The compression garment post VASER needs to be kept on for longer, typically 4-6 weeks rather than just one week for Smartlipo.
At the end of the day it is important that your individual case is considered and that you choose a doctor carefully and have a proper medical consultation with the doctor who is going to carry out the procedure so you can discuss in detail which procedure is best for you and what to expect from it.