Liposuction Alternatives

The latest surgical techniques have made it possible to slenderize and contour almost any area on the body. Since liposuction was first introduced in the 1970s, it has gone through a number of changes. Modern fat removal techniques uses local anesthetic, smaller and more precise instruments, lasers, water-jets, ultrasonic waves and other technologies that have vastly improved the safety, outcomes, recovery times and experiences for both patients and surgeons.

This page offers a quick overview of various techniques. After you read through the summaries, locate surgeons in your area and learn about the procedures they offer. Although there are many options and techniques to consider, the most important factor is your surgeon's experience. Find a surgeon who is licensed, trained and experienced in liposuction.

Tumescent Liposuction

It is the first technique to use localized anesthetic rather than general anesthesia. The method injects a diluted "tumescent" mixture of fluids into the fatty tissue before removing it. Patients are mildly sedated with local anesthetics (such as lidocaine). Points of incision are minimal, do not require stitches and leave no scars.
The tumescent lipo technique dramatically reduced incidents of post-surgical trauma. The injected fluids cause the fatty tissues to "tumesce," i.e. become firm and swollen, giving the surgeon better control during surgery and reducing blood loss for the patient. The body will gradually absorb and eliminate the fluids after surgery. This technique reduces side effects and improves recovery time. Most people return to work within a few days after surgery.

Laser Liposuction or Laser Lipolysis

Laser-assisted liposuction, or laser lipolysis, is one of the fast growing and exciting fat removal developments since tumescent liposuction. It incorporates a small surgical laser to target and melt away fat before it is suctioned from the body. The use of surgical lasers allows for greater precision and more refined outcomes. Advances using laser technology make it possible to target and melt fat cells, while leaving muscle and nerve tissue unharmed. Laser lipos reduces pain, scarring, swelling and bruising, and patients experience a quicker recovery. This technique might be more expensive than traditional or tumescent liposuction; however, many people find that the improved results make it worth the extra cost.


The SmartLipo systems and laser workstations have three generations of laser systems. It has been referred to as the "golden standard" of laser liposuction. The SmartLipo laser was the first to target laser lipolysis, and it remains a leader of the industry. Cynosure, the manufacturer, recently released the third-generation SmartLipo Tri-Plex™, after the second-generation SmartLipo MPX™, featuring two different laser wavelengths. Each is specialized to produce ideal surgical results. SmartLipo™ laser systems are FDA-approved.


CoolTouch manufactures the CoolLipo® lasers. The CoolLipo® laser technique is especially designed to break down fat and simulate collagen production simultaneously. This combination of technologies increases collagen production and skin tightening. In addition, it reduces the appearance of lines, wrinkles, creping and saggy, flabby skin. The laser can be used in a variety of areas, including small areas such as the jowls, chin and neck. CoolLipo® is FDA approved for both general dermatological surgery and laser liposuction.


LipoLite, manufactured by Syneron, allows doctors and surgeons unprecedented control over the laser's pulse energy, pulse length and repetition rate. The added features, functionality and user-friendly configurability allow doctors to customize their patient's treatment. Short-low-power pulses break up highly fibrous areas and fatty tissues, while longer and more powerful pulses melt the fat. The LipoLite is FDA approved for laser lipolysis and various other dermatological procedures.

LipoTherme® and LipoControl®

Osyris Medical USA offers two lasers: LipoTherme and LipoControl. LipoTherme and LipoControl feature high-powered lasers that fire continuously, rather than in pulses. Physicians like these machines because they have optimum control of the laser output, ranging from 1 to 25 watts of energy. This allows the doctor to configure and match the laser power to the specific needs of the patient and the targeted area of the body. The FDA has approved both devices.

Water-Jet® Assisted Liposuction

Water-Jet assisted liposuction is making waves with plastic surgeons. The technique uses a high-pressure spray of water to dislodge fat in the targeted areas before the fat and water are suctioned out. This technique reduces tissue trauma and allows surgeons greater control than many other methods. It takes less time, and some studies reveal that it reduces the appearance of cellulite. Because it is a newer procedure, not as many surgeons offer currently this technique.

Ultrasonic Liposuction

Ultrasonic liposuction, also known as UAL, uses sound waves and ultrasonic technology to aid in the removal of unwanted fat. High pitched sound waves passing through the cannula; loose, disrupt and liquefy fatty tissue, before it is removed from the body. In addition, the ultrasonic liposuction technique dilutes the fat with an injected liquid solution, making it easier to remove the fat.

Body-Jet® Liposuction

Body-Jet liposuction is another form of fat removal that achieves better results and body contouring. It reduces downtime even more than other techniques. Body-Jet is also known as "Water Lipo" or "H2O Lipo." Body-Jet water-assisted liposuction harnesses the healing power of water by loosening fat cells without damaging them, and then removing them from the body. A special water solution separates layers of fat cells at their weakest points. This means that surrounding blood vessels and connective tissues remain intact, making the Body-Jet less invasive while delivering significant slimming results.