Lots of people have heard of liposuction. It’s that cosmetic procedure where unwanted fat is literally vacuumed out of an area such as the thighs, flanks, and buttocks. SmartLipo is the next step in liposuction. It’s not only safer but more comfortable, less traumatizing, and lessens the patient’s recovery period.
How SmartLipo Works
SmartLipo works by melting the fat before it is sucked out of the area of the body. This is done by using the heat energy of a laser.
Because it is an elective surgery, the patient prepares for SmartLipo well before the actual operation. There are even some procedures to go through at the time of the actual operation. First, the doctor takes photographs of the bodily areas in which the patient wants fat removed. The doctor or nurse takes pictures at several angles. In between the photos, the doctor makes topographical marks over the area. These marks will guide them during the operation.
During the next step, the patient lies down on the operating table. The surgical site is then thoroughly cleansed. After this, the doctor injects a small amount of anesthetic in one area at a time. They then insert a catheter. A tumescent solution will be passed through this catheter.
The doctor manipulates the catheter beneath the patient’s skin as they add the tumescent solution. This makes the area swell, which separates the fat from the skin. At the same time, the solution causes the blood vessels that are distributed throughout the layer of fat to narrow. The doctor can tell if the tumescent fluid is working because the skin takes on the look and texture of an orange peel.
Aspiration of the Fat
The next step is the actual aspiration of some of the excess fat. This happens after the patient has been resting for about a half an hour while the tumescent solution works. The doctor then inserts a very thin tube called a cannula.
First, the doctor uses the cannula to tunnel through and remove the fat beneath the patient’s skin. The tumescent solution makes this easier. During the procedure, the doctor places their free hand over the area where they are working so they can feel the layers of fat as they’re reduced. They also check the tubing attached to the cannula to see how much fat is coming out.
If the doctor is working on the patient’s abdomen, they will work on one quadrant at a time. The goal here is to make sure that all quadrants of the patient’s abdomen are symmetrical. Because of this, SmartLipo is also a sculpting procedure. When this stage of the SmartLipo is completed, the patient and doctor can already see some reduction in the amount of fat in the treated area.
The laser is introduced by a fiber optic wire that is encased in its own cannula. The tip of the wire glows red, and when it is inserted into the treatment area the doctor can see the red light moving beneath the skin. They insert the laser into the openings that have already been made.
The heat from the laser melts the unwanted fat left in the area, which makes it easier to remove. The heat also causes the skin to tighten, which makes it drape over the patient’s musculature in a more aesthetically pleasing way as the surgical wound heals. Some doctors apply the SmartLipo laser before the aspiration, especially if the patient is thin and just has small areas of fat they want taken away. Other doctors use the laser after the aspiration as a sort of fine-tuning procedure.
The reduction in fat is obvious immediately after the procedure. Since the openings are so small, they do not need to be sutured, though the surgeon places pads over the openings. The doctor does not insert drains in the patient, but the openings are allowed to drain naturally. This may necessitate the patient wearing pads for a few days.
The doctor and nurse help the patient to stand then give them a compression garment to wear. This garment is wrapped tightly around the body and kept on for 24 hours a day for at least two weeks. Some doctors have the compression garment ready for the patient at the facility, while other patients need to buy a garment before their surgery at a surgical supply store.
After they are monitored for a short while and put in the compression garment, the patient is allowed to go home. Before they leave, they are given a schedule of follow-up appointments and told how to take care of themselves as they heal. Someone needs to pick the patient up, and stay with them at least overnight.
The patient has their first post-op visit the day after their SmartLipo, even though they may feel like staying at home and resting. The doctor needs to make sure that all is well with the openings and the area that was treated. The patient should be diligent when it comes to keeping their follow-up appointments to make sure that their healing is proceeding the way it should.
How quickly the patient heals after their SmartLipo depends, partially, on how much area of their body was treated. Some people are ready to go back to work after resting for the weekend, while others need at least a week. Still, patients recover from SmartLipo sooner than they do from traditional liposuction because the body experiences less trauma.
During the first week after SmartLipo the patient simply needs to heed the instructions of their surgeon, get lots of rest and avoid engaging in strenuous exercise. They should do this even if they feel good about the surgery and want to jump back into their usual routine.
Besides avoiding strenuous activities for about a month, the patient should stay away from hot, humid areas and even avoid taking a bath for at least a month after their surgery. They should also stay away from the beach, heated pools and hot tubs. They should be careful to take their entire course of antibiotics, even if they feel well.
One bit of advice is to get all prescriptions, whether for pain or antibiotics, filled well before the surgery. That way, they will be on hand when the patient comes home from the treatment facility. After about 10 days, they can start to lightly massage the areas of their body where they had the SmartLipo. They can also use hot compresses and gentle stretching to ease swelling and tightness. Most patients see their new, wonderfully svelte new shape after about four months, and the overwhelming majority are very pleased with their SmartLipo procedure.
Preparing for SmartLipo
Since SmartLipo is surgery, the patient needs to be considered a good candidate before they have it. This is what the consultation between the patient and the surgeon, and even the patient and the surgical staff, is for. During the consultation, the patient lets the doctor know which part of their body they need to be treated. In turn, the doctor takes the patient’s medical history, recommends the best course of treatment, and discusses what will probably happen after the patient has SmartLipo. They’ll also need to discuss the risks and possible complications of the surgery.
A candidate for SmartLipo is in overall good health, is not very overweight or obese and has good, supple skin and muscle tone. They want the SmartLipo procedure because they’re troubled by excess pockets of fat on their body and can’t get rid of them through exercise or diet.
Since pregnant women shouldn’t have SmartLipo, women of childbearing age are given a pregnancy test to make sure they’re not pregnant. Patients of both sexes are given blood tests, and the surgery can be postponed if the patient’s blood levels are not what they should be. For example, a patient who is anemic won’t be able to have the treatment until their anemia is resolved. They may need to get an okay from their primary care physician before they can have SmartLipo.
Some doctors also prescribe iron pills for their patients before they have their SmartLipo. Since some blood loss is inevitable during the surgery, the iron pills guard against anemia.
During the consultation, the doctor may also tell the patient to stop taking blood thinning medications and to stop smoking. Smoking can slow down healing from SmartLipo or any surgical procedure because it doesn’t allow blood to circulate the way it should. Because of this, wounds heal slowly, and the slower a wound takes to heal, the more at risk it is of infection and scarring. Ideally, a patient who smokes should use their SmartLipo operation as a chance to quit for good. If they really can’t, they shouldn’t smoke again for some weeks after the treatment.
Patients should give up alcohol in the weeks before their SmartLipo because alcohol is a sort of blood thinner. It can cause excess bleeding during the surgery and can put the patient at higher risk for infection.
The patient should also exercise in the weeks before their SmartLipo. The ideal SmartLipo candidate is close to their ideal weight, so exercise can help the person maintain or achieve this weight. Exercise alsos help burn fat, which means less fat needs to be pulled from the body during the treatment. Exercise also sends blood to the tissues, which can promote healing
The patient may need to fast the night before their SmartLipo operation, but they’ll be able to eat something soon after they leave the facility. Doctors recommend that patients eat light meals for the first two days after their SmartLipo, but drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. They should avoid alcohol for at least two days after the surgery.
The patient can take a shower on the day of their surgery, but they shouldn’t shave the surgical area if that area needs shaving. They shouldn’t wear jewelry, makeup, deodorants, or any other type of emollient. They should even leave their contact lenses at home if they wear them.
The patient should wear loose clothing on the day of their procedure. They should invest in a few changes of loose clothing that’s a size or two larger than they usually wear, for there will be swelling after the operation.
Contact Us for More Information about SmartLipo
If you have pockets of unwanted fat anywhere on your body that just won’t go away no matter what you do, you may be a candidate or SmartLipo. SmartLipo is a gentler form of liposuction that uses lasers to help remove fat and tighten the skin. To learn more, we warmly invite you to reach out and make an appointment with Dr. Park Avenue. At our convenient locations in Hoboken and Brick, our caring and devoted team of professionals will be pleased to explain this option to you in greater detail and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to set up your consultation – we look forward to speaking with you!