Could it be? Liposuction– soon to be a thing of the past? Liposuction has persisted as one of the most popular and satisfying procedures in all of plastic surgery. Year after year since it origins some 25 years ago, the refinements making it even better came: more sophisticated and smaller instruments, the tumescent/local anesthetic technique, ultrasonic liposuction, and laser liposuction. However, recent research suggests that liposuction may soon become an outdated and unnecessary procedure of the past!
“High Intensity Focused Ultrasound” (HIFU) is a completely non-invasive technique which targets fat cells under the skin. Using HIFU externally, on the surface of the skin, the special high intensity ultrasonic waves pass harmlessly – and without any incisions – through all the outer skin layers. Deep underneath the skin they then converge to “focus” in on and “melt” the fat cells. HIFU gives Plastic Surgeons the ability to shrink and re-contour any area where fat may be a problem without a surgical procedure of any kind. This is a similar strategy that has already been used quite successfully for years with lasers. Lasers are fired directly at the skin’s outer surface but the laser light doesn’t actually “focus” until it is under the skin, without any incisions, where the laser light coalesces to dissolve away pigments deep in the skin (such as for birthmarks or tattoos) without injuring the overlying skin whatsoever.
Ultrasonic, laser, and other technologically advanced types of liposuction have been available and widely used over the past few years, but all of these methods have one thing in common: They all require standard liposuction incisions and instruments which plastic surgeons must employ under the skin one way or another to create the desired contour changes and then get the fat out. But with HIFU, there are no incisions and no surgery! After the focused ultrasound has melted the fat by acting through the skin but without harming the skin in any way, the melted fat is eliminated/excreted by the body over the next several weeks following the HIFU treatment.
HIFU is still being perfected and only in the experimental and clinical trial phases for now. However, the preliminary results are looking very good and suggest that HIFU will be practical, safe and efficient. HIFU may be an available treatment option for the public (and take the world by storm) within just the next couple of years!
Liposuction – obsolete? Could be – if HIFU becomes the future of body re-contouring in Plastic Surgery as many believe it will.
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art cosmetic surgery procedures for the body and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.
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