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Liposuction Update

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It can be quite a challenge to keep up with trends in liposuction. Advances in techniques and equipment seem to be introduced regularly—not to mention liposuction alternative treatments for heating, cooling and otherwise melting fat.

A liposuction update from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is therefore welcome news.

As an organization whose members are cosmetic surgeons, the ASAPS is obviously “pro” cosmetic surgery. That said, ASAPS doctors must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, signifying that they’ve met the most rigorous standards for training in the field. The organization’s leadership and its official stances tend to be fairly conservative.

Here’s what the ASAPS says about liposuction today.

Almost 29 percent of ASAPS members responded to the liposuction survey. The returns from these 492 surgeons indicated that traditional liposuction, formally referred to as suction-assisted lipoplasty (SAL), is still the most popular method of fat removal. Just over half (51.4 percent) of the survey respondents selected this form of liposuction as their preferred technique.

PAL, or power-assisted liposuction, was the next most popular technique at 23 percent. PAL is much like SAL except it employs a vibrating cannula, or tube, making the fat removal process easier.

The next most popular liposuction technique is UAL, or ultrasound-assisted liposuction. In UAL, sound waves first liquefy the fat cells, allowing the material to be vacuumed out with the cannula.

Relatively unpopular with ASAPS membership are laser-assisted liposuction and the new, non-invasive techniques such as external ultrasound. Less than 5 percent of surgeons responding favored either of the two approaches.

Jamil Ahmad, the survey leader, commented on the lack of support for some of the newer techniques. He said, “Our survey found that ASAPS members tend to more frequently employ the fat removal methods that have the longest track records and the most data to support their efficacy and safety.

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