SmartLipo is a liposuction method that utilizes a low energy laser (neodynium:yttrium-aluminum garnet laser). It's extensively promoted as minimally invasive since it can be performed under local anesthesia using small incisions.
Due to the size of the cannula (1-2mm), fat extraction is more difficult compared to regular suction-assisted liposuction. Thus, it is not intended to replace traditional liposuction.
Since it is more difficult to extract more fat after lipolysis from Smartlipo, there's a higher likelihood of developing seroma and possibly hematoma if large scale lipolysis is performed.
For the treatment of localized lipolysis, such as the removal of fat from the neck, laser lipolysis (Smart Lipo) may be a more effective method than traditional liposuction.
SmartLipo is reported to be more effective in removing fat from the knees, chin, neck or face.
A multi-center FDA trial FAILED to show any advantages of SmartLipo over conventional method of liposuction (suction-assisted liposuction.)
A randomized, double-blind clinical trial showed NO major difference in cosmetic result when SmartLipo was compared with the regular suction-assisted liposuction.
Less post-operative pain, however, was experienced by patients who underwent the SmartLipo liposuction.
Surgical time is longer with the SmartLipo when compared with Suction-assisted liposuction.
Higher concentrations of free-fatty acids were found after undergoing the SmartLipo procedure. The author of the study "alerts to potential hepatic and renal toxicity."
Other potential complications include: infection, hematoma, skin puckering, and sagging.
Being aware and informed about these different liposuction methods before undergoing such procedures for body contouring is important. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each method make one a better informed patient. I recommend asking one of your Houston Plastic Surgeons regarding these different liposuction procedures prior to your surgery.
Emmanuel De La Cruz M.D.
Reference: Mordon, et al. Histologic evaluation of laser lipolysis: pulsed 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser versus cw 980-nm diode laser. Aesthet Surgery Journal. 2007 May-Jun;27(3):263-8.
Prado, et al. A prospective, randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial comparing laser-assisted lipoplasty with suction-assisted lipoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006 Sep 15;118(4):1032-45. Sun, et al. Laser lipolysis used to treat localized adiposis: a preliminary report on experience with Asian patients. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2009 Sep;33(5):701-5. Epub 2009 May 30.