Nov. 13, 2006 — -- If you're thinking about liposuction, forget the vacuum and say hello to the laser.
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new, less-invasive technique for liposuction called "laser body sculpting."
Some doctors say that this laser liposuction is better and safer than the traditional surgery.
"If you do traditional liposuction, you can actually make the skin look worse. It is pretty much like a deflated balloon," said Dr. Bruce Katz, director of the Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York City. "This type of laser technology allows us to melt the fat and tighten the skin at the same time."
Using a local anesthetic, doctors insert a small tube with a laser under the skin.
"As the laser tip comes into contact with the fat cells, it literally melts the fat," said Karen H. Kim, a dermatologic surgeon.
The melted fat then drains away from the body.
"There's very minimal bruising. There's very minimal swelling afterwards. The incision site that you enter into the skin is very small, so you don't even have to put a stitch into it," Kim said.
The new procedure isn't for everybody.
Doctors say the laser system is best suited for targeting small fat deposits in otherwise healthy people, and it is not a cure for obesity.
"In the age of technology and cosmetic surgery, there are such dramatic improvements in technology that sometimes the hype goes beyond what can actually be accomplished," said Paul Jarrod Frank, a dermatologic surgeon.
"There will never be a magic wand of cosmetic surgery," Frank said.