Liposuction is a technique utilized to remove certain problem areas where fat just won't go away, even with a diet and exercise regimen. While it can be very effective, liposuction also comes with some risks and is an intensive surgery. Fortunately, there are some alternatives which people can turn to if they do not want to undergo a liposuction surgery either due to the possible complications or because they want something less invasive.
Possible Dangers of Liposuction
Because liposuction involves an intense surgical procedure, there are some risks involved. Due to these reasons, many people are unwilling to utilize liposuction to get rid of stubborn fat deposits. Listed below are some of the possible side effects and complications of liposuction:
- Swelling, bruising and soreness in the treated area
- Irritation and scarring at the incision site
- Uneven skin on the treated area, including baggy or rippling skin
- Damage to the tissues under the skin
- Burning of the skin
- Permanent skin color changes in the treated areas
- Excessive blood or fluid loss, which could lead to shock
- Pulmonary edema (buildup of fluid in the lungs)
- Fat clots
- Blood clots
- Toxic reactions to injected fluids
- Punctures to internal organs or cavities
The more serious potential risks of liposuction, such as blood clots, infection or pulmonary edemas, are very rare. However, these serious side effects could be fatal - there have been several deaths linked to liposuction. Keep in mind that the risk for these more serious side effects is much greater for individuals who are having very large amounts of fat removed, who are obese or who have certain health problems.
Liposuction Alternatives: Pros and Cons
Most liposuction alternatives are created to be safer than liposuction since potential risks of surgery and anesthesia scare people away from getting the procedure done. However, the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a liposuction alternative is whether it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here are two liposuction alternatives which have received this important "approved" status from the FDA:
- Zerona: This method involves a medical laser. When the laser is used on problem areas like the waist, hips or thighs, it utilizes cold energy to force fat out of the cells. Then, the body eliminates the fat on its own. Because Zerona is non-invasive, it poses fewer risks that liposuction surgery. Plus, patients report little to no pain and can remain active during their treatments since no recovery time is required. It does come with some potential side effects, however, including possible uneven skin surfaces in the treated areas. However, this is not a common side effect and there appear to be no serious health risks associated with the procedure as long as protective eyewear is worn to avoid any possible eye damage from the lasers used during the procedure.
- CoolSculpting: This liposuction alternative also uses cold energy to get unwanted fat out of your cells, which is then eliminated by the body. Unlike Zerona, however, CoolSculpting does not use lasers to achieve this effect. Instead, suction cups are placed on problem areas and freeze the fatty tissue underneath the skin. There are few side effects, including minimal pain, tenderness and bruising on the treated areas. This non-invasive procedure has no recovery time and poses no known health risks beyond the minor potential side effects.
More Alternatives to Liposuction
Other liposuction alternatives certainly exist, but many of these are pending approval from the FDA. Some of these alternatives include:
- SmartLipo: This method uses lasers to melt away fat and is minimally invasive. Recovery with this option may take up to 3 days, but associated risks are few.
- Lipodissolve: For this treatment, drugs are injected into problem areas of the body. The drugs allow the body to naturally remove fat in a more effective manner. There could be risks involved if you are allergic to the drugs used in this procedure.
- Mesotherapy: Like lipodissolve, this method uses injections into fatty areas to get rid of unwanted fat. However, only natural substances like minerals, vitamins and amino acids are injected rather than any type of drug. Patients should be tested for any potential allergic reactions since this could pose a possible health risk.
- VASER: Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance, or VASER, is a process involving the use of ultrasonic sound waves to liquefy fat. There are rarely any side effects and there are no known health risks at this time.
Another factor to keep in mind with both of these procedures is that the results will not be as instantaneous as those found with liposuction. Instead, results may take weeks or months to appear. It's important to discuss all possible options and risks with your doctor before you decide to undergo liposuction or any of its alternatives.