Losing weight is never easy. In most cases, lifestyle changes like doing more exercise and sticking to a healthy diet are enough to shed those pounds, and bariatric surgery may be recommended in more difficult cases, but sometimes there are certain areas of the body where the fat just won’t seem to disappear. This can be frustrating for people who want to achieve their ideal body shape. Various liposuction techniques and technologies exist to remove fat directly, and one of the latest is the VASER® Liposelection method. Mr Alberto di Giuseppe is an internationally recognised plastic surgeon and expert on this technique.
What is the VASER procedure?
VASER Liposelection is a liposuction procedure that uses ultrasound to emulsify fat, before removing it.
It requires an injection of fluid beforehand containing a local anaesthetic diluted in saline, which reduces discomfort and bruising.
A small incision is made in the skin and a grooved, metal probe is inserted, which uses ultrasound waves to gently loosen and break down fatty deposits. A hollow metal implement called a cannula is inserted to remove the emulsified fat using a vacuum.
VASER Lipo is unique among liposuction techniques in that it targets and dissolves fat cells using ultrasound, rather than manual movement, water pressure, or a laser, then removes the emulsified fat cells without disrupting the collagen matrix. It minimises trauma and bruising due to surgery and reduces the risk of complications and post-operative pain, while optimising skin retraction.
Your doctor may recommend that you donate a unit of your blood before the procedure in case you need a blood transfusion afterwards.
After the operation, the area that has undergone liposuction will be dressed, perhaps with a compression garment to reduce swelling, provide support and promote healing. This may also help the skin to adapt to fitting the new body contours.
VASER liposuction can be used alongside other surgical techniques or as a single treatment for body contouring. It is particularly useful for patients who have excess fat in particular areas of the body, but are otherwise a normal weight. If structures other than fat are causing the body contour issues, VASER liposelection will be ineffective.
Having firm, elastic skin aids in the contouring process, as it will reshape itself to the body’s new contours after liposuction, while skin that has lost some of its elasticity due to ageing, weight loss, or stretch marks may need extra surgery to tighten it. VASER Lipo is also unable to improve cellulite.
Risks and side effects
There are risks with any surgical procedure, and VASER liposuction is no different. While the majority of cases go smoothly, it is important to be informed of the potential complications and discuss them with your surgeon.
- Allergic reactions – in rare cases, patients have had local allergies to the material used in tape or sutures or to topical preparations, or more serious, systemic allergies to drugs used during or after the procedure.
- Bleeding – unusual, but possible, this may occur during or after surgery and could warrant emergency treatment. Your doctor will discuss things you should avoid (e.g. aspirin) leading up to your surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- Skin sensation – your skin may experience a temporary reduction in sensation after VASER liposuction, but this usually resolves itself. However, it has been known not to resolve and in rare cases could involve a complete loss of sensation following lipoplasty procedures.
- Chronic pain – unusual after this type of operation.
- Infection – infections are unlikely after liposuction, but if one occurs, antibiotics or further surgery may be needed.
- Scarring – while VASER lipo involves small incisions and optimises healing, occasionally abnormal scars will form in the skin and deeper tissues, which may be unattractive and patients may choose further surgery to correct this.
- Pulmonary complications – complications involving the lungs are extremely rare, but potentially life-threatening. Droplets of fat can, in very rare cases, become trapped in the lungs (fat embolism syndrome), while blood clots (pulmonary emboli) and a partial collapse of the lung can occur after general anaesthesia. Either of these complications could prove fatal and require immediate treatment.
- Seroma – a build-up of fluid under the skin, which may need to be drained. Seromas are less common after VASER lipo than after most other liposuction procedures.
It is also important to manage expectations. Each patient is different, with some being better-suited to VASER liposuction than others. It is important to consider:
- The candidate – VASER Lipo may not be ideal for those with poor skin tone, obesity, or other medical problems.
- Expectations – it may be unrealistic to expect your ideal body contours due to factors other than the fat that will be removed.
- Asymmetry – factors such as skin tone, muscle tone, and bone structure may create a natural asymmetry in the body that cannot be made symmetrical simply by removing fat.
- Long-term effects – body contours can change over time even after the procedure, due to ageing, changes in weight, pregnancy, or other circumstances.