Liposuction, Airsculpt, LaserLipo, Oh My!
Dr. Darren Smith / July 24, 2020
What is airsculpt laser liposculpture?
“Airsculpt” is essentially a marketing name for liposuction combined with laser energy performed by a specific company, and “liposculpture” is another word for “liposuction.” Liposuction is a procedure which at its core involves suctioning fat from the body through very small incisions. There are many different ways to perform liposuction, and several different technologies it can be combined with to tighten the skin around the area being treated with liposuction. Liposuction can be performed while you are awake or while you are asleep. It can be performed with different sizes of suction devices. The technologies it can be combined with to tighten skin include laser energy (sometimes called “Smart Lipo”), ultrasound energy (sometimes called “Vaser”) and radiofrequency energy (sometimes called “BodyTite”). Airsculpt, then, is just liposuction combined with laser energy. Other advertised points of differentiation include that it is performed awake, which is true of any kind of liposution, and that it is performed without a scalpel. Instead of a scalpel (a surgical knife), they use a different kind of sharp instrument (a trocar, a stick that comes to a sharp point) to get through the skin. There is no difference from the patient’s perspective. It is also often claimed that Airsculpt has less bruising and an easier recovery than other forms of liposuction. There is nothing about the Airsculpt procedure that supports these claims.
Laser Lipo vs Liposuction
As mentioned above, laser lipo combines laser energy to tighten skin with liposuction which removes fat.
Airsculpt Liposuction Price
According to Instagram, Airsculpt costs $5000 per area treated.
Laser Lipo vs Cavitation
Cavitation refers to the effect produced by ultrasound energy (mentioned above) that helps break up stubborn fatty tissue and shake fat cells free of tough connective tissue or scar. Because of cavitation, Dr. Smith likes Vaser-assisted (ultrasound-assisted) liposuction for male breast reduction (gynecomastia surgery) and secondary liposuction.
Smart lipo vs Airsculpt
Smart Lipo is a brand name given to laser-assisted liposuction. As explained above, the laser energy can contribute to skin tightening, but radiofrequency energy is more effective for skin tightening in Dr. Smith’s extensive experience. Airsculpt is a brand name given to laser-assisted liposuction performed by a specific company in which a trocar is used instead of a scalpel and general anesthesia is not used.
Airsculpt vs Coolsculpting
Coolsculpting is a noninvasive body contouring procedure that uses cold to kill fat cells (a process called cryolipolysis). Airsculpt, on the other hand, is a type of liposuction, which is a minimally invasive procedure. It may take several rounds of CoolSculpting to even approach the results of liposuction. In general, Dr. Smith only recommends CoolSculpting to people that are absolutely opposed to any kind of surgery, including minimally invasive procedures like liposuction.
We host a great Facebook group where Dr. Smith will answer questions from folks all over the world who want to know more about plastic surgery. Sometimes we’ll include discussions from that forum here. To join and ask some questions of your own or learn from ongoing conversations, head over to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/askaps/
QUESTION: “I’m just starting to look into getting upper-arm liposuction and am confused by all the options. I can’t find anything that feels objectively written and don’t have enough medical knowledge to pursue peer-reviewed studies, but I would love some help understanding the distinctions among regular and laser liposuction, “Coolsculpt,” “Exilis 360,” “AirSculpt,” fat cavitation, ultrasonic treatments. … My head is spinning. Can you point me to something journalistic or straightforward that explains all these treatments? Many thanks!”
ANSWER: All of these things fall under the category of “body contouring.” The basic premise of body contouring is removing fat cells from the body in a controlled fashion to achieve desired cosmetic changes. There are two basic categories of body contouring treatment: invasive and noninvasive. Invasive techniques include liposuction and other surgical procedures like tummy tucks. Noninvasive techniques include things like Sculpsure, CoolSculpting, TruSculpt, and others. So, let’s discuss invasive techniques first (I actually don’t offer non-invasive techniques in my practice). Procedures designed to remove extra skin and fat like tummy tucks and arms lifts by definition achieve the most dramatic results but do cause scarring, because all incisions leave scars and we have to make incisions to remove skin. Skilled, board certified plastic surgeons are good at hiding scars in hard-to-see places and making them thin and in such a way that they often fade a great deal over time. Liposuction, on the other hand, is an excellent way to remove stubborn fat, and leaves only tiny scars (less than 1 cm). It is not a good option for people with severe loose skin. Many people with minor skin laxity will reasonably opt for liposuction paired with some form of energy delivery to the skin to shrink that skin (heat causes skin to contract- think of fish skin in a frying pan). Remember, though, that this only works well for folks with minor to moderate skin laxity. Of the MANY technologies available to do this, my favorites by far, are radio frequency and ultrasound. Moving over to noninvasive treatments: while invasive treatments physically remove fat cells, noninvasive treatments damage or destroy them so your body removes them on its own. These “set and go” technologies are not as effective or as customizable as invasive treatments in which a highly trained expert is sculpting your tissue by hand. In fact, they are not guaranteed to work at all. This is a lot of information; it is intended to help you cut through the copious marketing chatter that is out there. My advice is to ignore the fancy brand names, focus on the actual technology being offered, and find a board certified surgeon that you trust. Remember, four basic options for body contouring: a noninvasive option (usually-subtle fat removal); liposuction (for customized, most effective fat removal); liposuction + an energy treatment (for fat removal and skin tightening); a more invasive operation like a tummy tuck (to comprehensively address skin, muscle and fat). That’s it. The rest is marketing. -DMS