What is Ultrasonic Liposuction?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Ultrasonic liposuction is a procedure used by surgeons to remove fat from the body. Ultrasonic energy is converted into vibrations and heat, and then delivered through paddles and metal rods either into the body or over the skin. There are two types of ultrasonic liposuction, external and internal.

With internal ultrasonic liposuction, a special tumescent fluid is delivered into the fatty area by means of a hollow cannula. The cannula is similar to a large hollow needle, through which flow the ultrasonic vibrations, heat, and tumescent fluid. The ultrasonic energy breaks down the fat into oil, which is mixed with the tumescent fluid. The converted fat that has mixed with the tumescent fluid is sucked out through the cannula with the help of a suction vacuum.

External ultrasonic liposuction is a method of delivering the ultrasonic energy to fat without breaking or piercing the skin. The energy is delivered via metal paddles that are placed over the skin, with the vibrations breaking down the fat externally. The trouble with external ultrasonic liposuction is that most scientific research shows that it has no benefit whatsoever in the removal of fat. Because of these findings, external ultrasonic liposuction is rarely used these days.


Internal ultrasonic liposuction actually does remove fat. The most common areas to be treated are the hips, stomach, thighs, cheeks, chin, and buttocks. The fat that is removed can be used again if the patient is having another surgical procedure, such as lip enhancement surgery. Ultrasonic liposuction can be used on both men and women.

A major benefit of this type of liposuction is that the fat removal is permanent. Once the body has passed through puberty, it is unable to create any new fat cells. Weight gain is caused by expansion of the fat cells already in the body. If a person gains weight after liposuction, only the fat cells left inside the body are affected. Basically, there are fewer fat cells left in the body after liposuction than there were before.

Ultrasonic liposuction is not, however, without its risks. There has been a lot of medical research undertaken about the inherent risks involved in this procedure. Because of the heat used in this type of liposuction, blood clots have been known to occur. There have also been recorded incidents of injury to the peripheral nerves. Ultrasonic sound waves have been found to cause damage to the peripheral nerves in the neck, face, arms, and legs.

Another risk is that the procedure may cause seromas to occur. These are cavities of clear yellow fluid that form just beneath the skin. They are caused by pushing the cannula too slowly into the fat or by producing too much ultrasonic energy. Fifteen to 70% of patients have formed seromas after ultrasonic liposuction, and they can stay in the body for weeks. All surgical procedures carry some amount of risk, and your surgeon should advise you of these prior to surgery.


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