Are you currently looking to undertake a cosmetic treatment for the purpose of fat reduction? If so, you have a number of options at your disposal. Crucially, this typically centres around liposuction (Lipo), or a non-invasive procedure such as CoolSculpting.
Although you are always best advised to engage in a long-term diet and exercise plan to reduce your unwanted fat, it is still useful to know what your options are in the cosmetic department.
As such, in this brief article we will explore the fundamentals of both liposuction and non-invasive procedures. By the end of reading it from start to finish, you should be able to make an informed decision as to which procedure is best for your individual needs.
What is Liposuction or Lipo?
First and foremost, let’s make sure that we understand what liposuction actually is, as there is often an element of misunderstanding that surrounds the treatment. In a nutshell, lipo is a surgical procedure that seeks to remove fat from the patient’s body. More specifically, the surgeon will target specific areas of the body, such as the stomach area or the thighs.
The liposuction procedure has been in existence since the mid-1980s, although technological advancements have improved the procedure vastly in recent years. Notably, this centres around safety.
Nevertheless, the surgeon will initially begin the procedure by administering local anaesthesia to the target area. This is to ensure that the patient does not encounter any pain during the treatment. In some cases, the surgeon might decide to instead administer general anaesthesia, which will leave you in a state of unconsciousness during the treatment.
Either way, once the anaesthesia has been administered, the surgeon will then proceed to make small incisions into the target area, before inserting a medical cannula.
This then allows the surgeon to remove excess fat from the body via a suction motion. This has the desired effect of removing the fat and thus – leave the patient with the appearance of a slimmer body shape. Due to the manner in which the fat is surgically removed, patients will often need to engage in a somewhat lengthy recovery period that can last for up to 6 weeks.
The process itself can be applied to target a number of different areas of the body. Typically, this will include the chin, neck, abdomen, arms, or back.
So now that you know the ins and outs of the liposuction process, let’s explore what we mean by a non-invasive procedure.
What is a Non-Invasive Procedure?
Although a non-invasive procedure has the same goal of liposuction – to remove unwanted fat from the patient’s body, the end-to-end procedure is actually much different. Notably, unlike lipo – which sees the surgeon make incisions, the specialist will instead opt for either an injection or handheld device. Either way, the non-invasive process usually does not require incisions.
There are actually a number of different procedure types available in the non-invasion department, so we’ve listed some of the most common treatments below to give you an idea of how the process differs from that of liposuction.
If you are reasonably close to your target weight at the time of the procedure, then you might be suited for CoolSculpting. In its most basic form, CoolSculpting will aim to destroy unwanted fat cells in the target area by using very low temperatures. The process is only capable of removing small quantities of fat, so CoolSculpting is not suitable if your requirements are more large-scale.
Nevertheless, CoolSculpting achieves its aims via a cryolipolysis device, which not only kills unwanted fat cells, but it does so without affecting the surrounding tissues. Finally, CollSculpting is a somewhat slow and steady process, insofar that it can take up to three months before you see the final result.
Much like in the case of CoolSculpting, Smart Lipo is only a suitable option if your fat reduction needs are smaller. Although the procedure is known as Smart ‘Lipo’, the process is still virtually non-invasive. Also referred to as ‘laser liposuction’, Smart Lipo utilizes a laser fibre that seeks to heat and liquefy the target fat cells. While doing so, the surgeon will also remove the fat using a suction device.
Interestingly, if the amount of fat reduction is minimal, the surgeon might not be required to remove the fat per se. On the contrary, the body will be able to absorb it naturally. As the Smart Lipo process is substantially less invasive than traditional liposuction, the recovery time is much faster.
An additional non-invasive fat removal treatment that is also worth briefly mentioning is that of truSculpt. The process seeks to eliminate fat cells through the use of radiofrequency technology.
Although patients are often required to undergo the truSculpt process more than once, treatment rarely takes more than once an hour. Once again, the recovery time is much faster in comparison to conventional liposuction.
Liposuction vs Non-Invasive Procedures?
So now that you have an idea of the processes utilized in both liposuction and non-invasive procedures, we are now going to explore some of the key differences between the two.
First and foremost, it is important to note that the results can vary quite considerably depending on the type of treatment that you opt for. In the case of non-invasive procedures, although the process does not require incisions to be made, treatment rarely has the ability to remove more than 25% of fat in the target area.
On the contrary, liposuction offers much more in terms of results. In fact, liposuction might be the only option at your disposal if you have a need to remove large quantities of fat, as non-invasive treatments are best suited for smaller requirements.
Furthermore, liposuction has the ability to yield longer-lasting results.
Time to Optimal Results
There is also a disparity between the amount of time it takes patients to start seeing the outcome of their preferred treatment. In the case of conventional liposuction, it can take up to six months before you see the full impact of the procedure. This is largely due to the post-recovery process, insofar that it takes a considerable amount of time for your treated area to heal.
On the other hand, non-invasive treatments normally begin to show results in a much shorter time. While the exact time-frame will depend on the specific non-invasive procedure being undertaken, this is typically noticeable in as little as a few weeks, to a couple of months.
As the name suggests, non-invasive procedures are substantially less invasive in comparison to liposuction. Crucially, there is no requirement to make significant incisions during the procedure. Instead, the specialist will opt for a handheld device or injections. Not only does this mean the patient will experience minimal discomfort during the treatment, but the post-recovery phase will also be shorter.
This is in stark contrast to liposuction, which is much more aggressive in nature. This is why the surgeon is required to administer local or general anaesthesia, subsequently leaving you in a state of unconsciousness.
One of the biggest differentiators between liposuction and non-invasive procedures is that of the post-treatment recovery time. Firstly, patients that undergo liposuction are likely to experience an element of pain, bruising and swelling post-treatment. It is therefore likely that the surgeon will need to prescribe painkillers, as well as post-op antibiotics to prevent the risk of infection.
You will also need to wear compression garments for a few weeks after treatment, which again, will help with the swelling. Liposuction is likely to prevent you from resuming normal tasks for a few days, and a few weeks for more strenuous activities like exercise. All in all, the liposuction recovery process should not be taken too lightly.
Failure to take the required time to recover can lead to further complications. As such, if you have an extremely busy schedule at work and thus – you are unable to take the required time off to recover, liposuction might not be the right treatment for you.
On the other hand, the post-treatment recovery process of non-invasive procedures is less intense. Although certain treatments such as SmartLipo will still result in an element of swelling or soreness, this will be less severe in comparison to lipo.
Crucially, you likely won’t need to take any time off work after treatment, and in some cases, you’ll be able to resume normal activities straight away. This will, of course, depend on the profile of the patient.
Which Fat Reduction Option Should I Go With?
If you have read our article from start to finish, it is hoped that you have a firm idea of how liposuction and non-invasive procedures work. Most importantly, we hope that you are able to make an informed decision as to which option is best suited for your needs.
There is no one size fits all answer to which treatment option is better, as it really depends on what you are looking to achieve. On the one hand, liposuction is likely to be the most conducive option if you have a requirement to remove larger quantities of fat. Similarly, if you are not too far off from your target body weight, then a non-invasive procedure is likely to be sufficient.
Moreover, you also need to consider the importance of post-treatment recovery. Liposuction is much more aggressive in comparison to non-invasive treatments, so you will need more time to recover. Ultimately, we would suggest meeting with a qualified surgeon prior to making a decision, to discuss your needs and requirements. Upon conducting a brief medical examination, they will run you through the options that best meet your individual profile.