So here is the long and short of it — I have spent an inordinate amount of time working my thighs and buttocks on the elliptical for the past three years. I even got a trainer and religiously took that paper he gave me arduously attempting each step in my custom-created circuit training plan as though my life depended upon it. To be perfectly honest, I have done everything “they tell you” you need to do to get rid of stubborn fat — I have sworn off all meat, alcohol and could give the Amish a run for their money in a contest of who lives the cleanest lifestyle. Of course my initial incentive for doing this was not about sculpting the perfect thighs; it was more about getting healthy and trying to keep the faulty genes that took my father’s life at 68 at bay. After his death something switched in me – I began to feel the weight of mortality tightening like a vise around my neck and realized that the extra 25 pounds I had been lugging around could ultimately be a factor in whether or not I got to celebrate a silver anniversary with my sugar daddy.
And yet, four years later, although I have managed to maintain the weight loss, I find that there are certain areas of stubborn fat that REFUSE to leave the permanent residence they have taken on my body — NO matter what I do in terms of diet and exercise. I’m starting to believe that maybe at 42 years-old there are just some things that need a little EXTRA HELP. So I am looking into all options, and while liposuction is a procedure that can rid you of those stubborn last 5-10 lbs of unsightly fat, I’ve been researching different and newer techniques when it comes to the favored fat-sucking technique.
With traditional liposuction, surgeons have been able to remove stubborn pockets of fat from people who have been unable to lose that fat with exercise and diet. It is not a weight loss procedure however; many people have had successful procedures to remove excess fat in the abdomen, thighs, breasts (both male and female), hips, back and arms. Traditional liposuction has been a one-step procedure in which the surgeon will use a cannula to suction the fat. Sometimes this causes trauma and disruption in the area and can leave uneven areas and bruising. The good news: SAFELipo (Separation, Aspiration, Fat Equalization liposuction) was developed to avoid trauma and leave a smoother, more contoured area of skin. For more insight on this new technique, I spoke with board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Lee.
Melissa Chapman: How does the SAFElipo technique differ from standard traditional liposuction?
Dr. Lee: SAFElipo utilizes a three-step process in contrast to the single-step of traditional liposuction. These steps are (1) Fat Separation (2) Fat Aspiration and (3) Fat Equalization. The process of SAFElipo is designed to safely remove large volumes of fat and optimize body contour results.
MC: What is an “exploded tip” cannula? Is this the power assisted liposuction? How is this different than traditional liposuction cannulas?
Dr. Lee: The exploded tip cannula has a wider distal end compared to more traditional cannulas. This cannula allows plastic surgeons to gently break up the fat and detach it from surrounding tissues without causing damage to the blood vessels that support the area. Power-assistance is used with the exploded tip cannula during the first and third step of SAFELipo.
MC: Does the SAFElipo technique allow you to remove more fat or just distribute it and contour it differently than traditional liposuction to give a better end result?
Dr. Lee: There has been controversy in the past surrounding simultaneous large volume liposuction and abdominoplasty, which is why preserving tissue blood supply is very important when performing liposuction with combined excisional procedures. SAFELipo is designed to separate fat cells from local blood vessels prior to aspiration. This process theoretically preserves the blood supply allowing for larger volumes of fat removal with excisional procedures. The final step of fat equalization allows for “smoothing out” of treatment area regardless of additional procedures.
MC: Is the SAFElipo technique actually safer compared to standard liposuction? Is the recovery period shorter?
Dr. Lee: Presently there are no studies available that compare the two techniques. SAFELipo has gained popularity over recent years secondary to theoretical benefit and anecdotal evidence. Surgeons worldwide have converted to SAFELipo as a result of their own experiences and improved aesthetic results.
MC: On the SAFELipo site the sentence “This equalization process gives the skin a uniform thickness by creating an underlying blanket of “local fat grafts” that prevent adhesion of the skin down to the muscles and fascia.” How is this different than standard liposuction? Is it better to leave a layer of fat or remove all of it? Does traditional liposuction leave any fat layer or tissue?
Dr. Lee: It is crucial with all liposuction techniques to preserve a uniform layer of fat between underlying fascia and overlying skin. When this is not maintained contour deformities may develop. Standard liposuction with proper technique does not create contour deformities. However, areas of over-zealous suction may require equalization of the fat to avoid contour deformity. SAFELipo provides a means of creating a balanced fat interface circumventing such problems.
MC: Is SAFELipo a technique that can be used in all types of liposuction or just some types of liposuction?
Dr. Lee: SAFELipo is designed to accomplish the goals of advanced liposuction. In the world of plastic surgery we are always searching for better results. SAFELipo will continue to evolve and improve; however, we do not currently recommend using SAFELipo with methods of liposuction that employ non-selective tissue injury.
This exciting new technique seems to be the treatment of choice for many people who want liposuction without some of the problems that could arise. Plastic surgeons have resorted to using SAFElipo to correct past procedures of patients who were not satisfied with their results. Now that I am armed with this knowledge, all that remains is — when will I schedule my consultation?
For more of my blog posts on cosmetic procedures check out my blog on Smart Beauty Guide!