SmartLipo in Santa Barbara by Dr. Mackenzie

You may have heard of SmartLipo, as it has been one of the most searched-for procedures in aesthetic surgery. The SmartLipo Triplex is the most advanced laser-assisted liposuction system available, and it has significant advantages over previous versions of SmartLipo that you may be familiar with. As with any liposuction system, whether traditional, power-assisted, water-assisted (Body-Jet), or ultrasonic (Vaser), the fat is still removed with suction through small metal canulas. In the case of SmartLipo Triplex, the fat is first melted with the laser, then removed via suction.  The laser also may help tighten the overlying skin, as SmartLipo has been shown to achieve 24% improvement in skin elasticity and 17% improvement in skin shrinkage. This is considerably more shrinking ability than conventional liposuction. Regardless of the technology used, the most important ingredient in getting a good liposuction result is the surgeon. That said, although SmartLipo Triplex is not a miracle machine, it does offer several potential advantages over other systems.


SmartLipo Post Tx. 1 Year
SmartLipo Before & Post 1 Year

First, some background.  Technology in surgery tends to advance slowly, and sometimes doing something in a new way with new technology doesn’t always make it better. Because the new technology may be quite expensive, it may make the procedure more costly too. Lasers for use in medicine have been around for decades, and they certainly have some great applications, including cosmetic procedures (see here and here). Lasers as applied to fat removal have been around for many years too, and SmartLipo is one of those systems.
However, until recently I was not too impressed with the purported advantages of using a laser to help do what more conventional liposuction did quite well. Sure the laser could melt the fat, but the claims that there was skin tightening from the laser seemed inconsistent and transient, and the data just wasn’t impressive. Plus the application of laser energy added a slight risk of burning of the tissues. Methods of using heat (via laser, radiofrequency, ultrasound, etc) to shrink collagen and stimulate collagen formation are many, with varying results.

SmartLipo Before & Post 5 Months
SmartLipo Before & Post 5 Months

The latest system by Cynosure is the SmartLipo Triplex, using 3 separate lasers in different ways to melt fat and effect skin tightening. Unlike previous versions, this system has a thermistor at the end of the cannula (the bit that goes through the skin and lasers the fat) which keeps the heat applied within a very narrow range that is necessary to get the shrinking effects without causing a burn. This has always been the problem: it is known that collagen will shrink at a certain temperature, but previously it has been extremely difficult to control and maintain that temperature. The SmartLipo Triplex also has higher energy lasers, which means that the procedure can be done in less time than with previous systems. This means less cost to the patient. Because the SmartLipo cannula is narrower than many typical liposuction cannulas and melts the fat with the laser, less force is required to push it through the fat. Because of this, it can be done under local anesthesia provided that a limited area is done, and conventional liposuction is not needed. This also lowers the patient cost.

SmartLipo Before & Post 6 Months
SmartLipo Before & Post 6 Months

SmartLipo is best for mild to moderate excess fat accumulation. Because only a certain amount of local anesthetic can be given at any one time, patients with larger or multiple areas of fat to be treated may need to be done under general anesthesia, or staged in more than one session. Sometimes traditional or Body Jet liposuction may be done combined with SmartLipo. For patients getting fat injection, I prefer Body-Jet to harvest the fat cells to keep them viable for transfer. Cellulaze is a laser application that is FDA-approved for treatment of cellulite, which can be combined in some cases with SmartLipo and in fact is combined within the same machine.  (For more information on Cellulaze see our page here .)
What is SmartLipo?
SmartLipo is designed exclusively to perform laser-assisted lipolysis, commonly referred to as laser liposuction. A very thin tube containing the SmartLipo laser fiber is inserted in targeted fatty areas through a tiny incision. The laser fiber delivers thermal energy directly to fat cells and disrupts the fat for easy removal. The laser literally melts the fat, which is removed with gentle suction. At the same time, tissue coagulates through the laser energy that is delivered, contributing to an overall smoother shape.
How do I know if SmartLipo is right for me?
The best candidates for laser lipolysis are women and men who are not significantly overweight but have accumulated fat deposits, such as “love handles,” flabby upper arms, excess neck or lower facial fat, or fat on the lower torso.
What areas of the body can be treated with SmartLipo?
Laser lipolysis is ideal for the neck, jawline, arms, back, “love handles,” post-pregnancy skin laxity, saddlebags, knees, and enlarged male breasts.
What does SmartLipo feel like?
Generally we perform SmartLipo under general anesthetic so there is no discomfort during the procedure. If you have a small area to treat, we may perform the procedure under local anesthesia with the area numb, in which case there would be minimal discomfort. You may feel pressure but it is a mild sensation. Following laser lipolysis, you may experience some aches, much like after a physical workout. A compression garment may be worn for a short period after treatment, depending on the body area treated and our recommendation.
How long does the procedure take?
On average, the procedure will take 1.5–2 hours. This is dependent on the number of areas to be treated and the size of those areas.
Do I have to stay in the hospital?

SmartLipo can be done upstairs in our surgery center or downstairs as an in-office procedure depending on the treatment areas and your preference for anesthesia.

How many treatments are necessary?
For most patients, results are achieved in just one treatment. Results can be seen within a week, although there may be swelling, so we tell our patients to expect continued improvement over 3–6 months.

How long do the results of SmartLipo last?
SmartLipo disrupts fat cells in the treated area. However, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen to enjoy long-lasting results.

Will there be scarring?
The incision site will be very small. With proper care, any scars will be barely noticeable. At the time of your consultation, Dr. Mackenzie will evaluate your skin type and provide you information on what to expect.

What’s the recovery time for SmartLipo?
SmartLipo is a procedure that is minimally invasive procedure, and there may be some swelling or bruising that can occur. You will be able to return to most normal activities anywhere from a couple days to a week or so after your procedure.

How much does SmartLipo cost?
The cost depends on the size and number of areas to be treated. After evaluating the treatment areas, we will be able to give you an exact quote.

For more information on SmartLipo visit their website here.

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Pacific Plastic Surgery
1722 State St., Ste. #102
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Call Us 805.898.0700