Facebook Pixel

Tickle Lipo: Hurts So Good?

Rate This
Beauty related image Photo: Getty Images

Add yet another liposuction system and approach to the already confusing array of options in the marketplace: Tickle Lipo. Like other, relatively new methods of liposuction, such as SmartLipo and Body Jet, Tickle Lipo adds a small twist on more standard liposuction approaches and a clever name.

How does it work?

According to the manufacturer, Medical Alliance Services of Texas, Tickle Lipo uses technology called Nutational Infrasonic Liposculpture (N.I.L.). The handpiece the surgeon uses whirls and vibrates, lending the technology its nickname. At least one proponent, a Southern California physician, said that many patients experience a “slight tickling sensation” as the handpiece “distracts and tricks the brain” (Wildwood 1).

Medical Alliance Services explained that the cannula (handpiece) used in Tickle Lipo differs from other liposuction systems in that it uses air pressure to dislodge fat. The company described the motion of the cannula as a whipping motion involving vibration and rotation (Medical Alliance Services 1).

Like other recently-marketed liposuction systems, the goal of the Tickle Lipo system is to remove fat effectively and safely while leaving nearby tissues undisturbed. But unlike other systems, this one is said to disrupt the patient’s sensation of pain by activating other nerves that do not send pain signals to the brain. Medical Alliance Services said this advantage allows liposuction to be performed under IV sedation or even local anesthesia (Medical Alliance Services 1).

What do plastic surgeons say?

Perhaps weary themselves of the relentless stream of liposuction systems being marketed today, most plastic surgeons continued to advise that results are what matters, and results are dependent on:

• Your plastic surgeon’s training and credentials (board certification)
• Your plastic surgeon’s experience with liposuction
• Your body’s characteristics (notably your skin's elasticity)

In fact, a quick review of physician comments on the Real Self website (where doctors chime in with opinions) shows that most plastic surgeons continue to hammer this point home: it’s not the system, it’s the surgeon. And a few routinely call the latest liposuction systems to hit the market “gimmicky” (Oliver et al 1).

But some plastic surgeons are enthusiastic about Tickle Lipo. One is Robert Oliver of Birmingham, Ala. Oliver characterized the system as a combination of power assisted liposuction (PAL) and ultrasonic liposuction (UAL) without the heat (and possibility of burns). He believes Tickle Lipo to be efficient at fat removal while causing less pain for the patient (Oliver 1).

What should you do?

In trying to sort the real from the really gimmicky, a good place to start developing a foundation of knowledge is a survey of plastic surgeon liposuction preferences by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) published in February (visit www.surgery.org and browse this year’s press releases to find it). You’ll discover that 51 percent of the survey respondents prefer traditional liposuction, meaning SAL (suction-assisted lipectomy), with an additional 44 percent choosing either PAL (power-assisted liposuction) or UAL (ultrasound-assisted liposuction). Very few respondents favored laser-assisted liposuction or one of the new systems as their primary method (ASAPS1 1).

This doesn’t mean that plastic surgeons do not offer other liposuction options—many do. But what you’ll often find is that many offer laser-assisted liposuction, one of the new approaches like Tickle Lipo, and/or non-invasive solutions as additional tools beyond their favored approach, and as ways of fine-tuning certain areas of the body.

With each new liposuction option, it’s ever more challenging for patients to figure out which method suits their particular needs. As most plastic surgeons advise, the best approach is to find a board-certified plastic surgeon with plenty of liposuction experience and listen carefully to their input about the right approach for you.


Wildwood Surgical Group. “Dr. Anil Ghandi Brings TICKLE LIPO to Wildwood Surgical Group, Cerritos, CA.” PR Urgent. May 20, 2011. Web. May 22, 2011.

Medical Alliance Services. About Nutational Infrasonic Liposculpture. N.I.L. Medical Alliance Services USA. Web. May 22, 2011. http://www.ticklelipousa.com/about_us.html

Oliver, Robert Jr. M.D. et al. How Effective is Tickle Lipo? Real Self. Web. May 22, 2011. http://www.realself.com/question/tickle-lipo-upper-abs-outer-thighs-arms-itas-effective-laser

Oliver, Robert Jr. M.D. “Tickle Lipo is now here at Plastic Surgery Sepcialists[sic]”. Blogspot. March 18, 2011. Web. May 22, 2011.

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “Survey Extracts Surgeons’ Preferences on Liposuction.” The Mark of Distinction in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
February 14, 2011. Web. May 22, 2011. http://www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/survey-extracts-surgeons’-preferences-on-liposuction

Reviewed May 26, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



Get Email Updates

Beauty Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!