Skip links

Tumescent Liposuction or Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction: What’s the Difference?

We’ve probably all experienced it at some point; the stubborn bit of fat that won’t leave, the unsightly bulge or double chin that, for some reason, refuses to be exercised away, the love handles or saddlebags that we make jokes about, but secretly don’t think are very funny. Most of us have probably tried some of the lotions and creams, massages and herbal remedies that are supposed to help us firm, tone, and shrink those problem areas. When these over-the-counter options fail, as they so often do, we’re usually left considering the possibility of liposuction.

Tumescent liposuction, the currently standard technique in use by American plastic surgeons, has been around since the mid-1980s. More recently, however, newer techniques have been developed that use lasers or ultrasound waves to assist in making the fatty tissue easier to remove. If you’re considering a surgical option for removing stubborn fatty tissue, it’s important to know what options are available to you in order to make the best possible choice.

The Tumescent Method

With the tumescent method, small incisions are made in the skin at the area to be treated. A small tube called a micro-cannula is inserted through the incisions, and is used first to inject a sterile solution of saline (salt water), lidocaine (an anesthetic), and epinephrine (to constrict capillaries, and reduce bleeding), then to loosen and break up the fatty tissue, and lastly to suction out the resultant mixture of liquid and fat.

Tumescent liposuction has been the standard technique used for more than 20 years, and for good reason. It uses local anesthetic rather than the more traumatic, dangerous, and often nausea inducing general anesthetic, which means it can be performed as an outpatient procedure. It is also less painful and provides a faster recovery than the methods that were previously in use.

Ultrasound Assisted

The ultrasound assisted technique is similar in most respects to the tumescent method; an incision is made through which the micro-cannula is inserted, and through which the fat is drained. The major difference is that the fatty tissue is broken up by use of highly energetic sound waves called ultrasound, rather than by using the micro-cannula. This allows for finer control over the positioning and movement of micro-cannula, and is often less damaging to surrounding tissue as a result. This also makes the ultrasound assisted method more effective on traditionally difficult areas to treat, such as the back and upper abdomen.

Another advantage to using ultrasound is that it can result in a greater amount of shrinking of the skin, which generally results in a better final contour.
To determine if liposuction is the right choice for you, book a consultation with Dr. Liu today.