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Laser Liposuction May Zap Fat Without Skin Sag

Preliminary research suggests procedure could have advantages over traditional method of fat removal

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Carina Storrs

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Laser-assisted liposuction might provide an option for people who want stubborn pockets of fat removed but fear they'll be left with loose skin.

Traditional liposuction, a fat-removing cosmetic surgery procedure, is generally reserved for people with firm skin to reduce the risk of sagging afterward. But the addition of lasers could spur tightening of the skin, researchers say.

The researchers looked at the extent of skin tightening in nearly 2,200 women and men who received laser liposuction in various body regions, including the belly, thighs and arms. The relatively new procedure was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006.

Three months after laser liposuction, the researchers found that patients had between 20 percent and 80 percent skin tightening, meaning their skin contracted to within 20 percent and 80 percent of what would be expected for the volume of fat removed. The amount that the skin "bounced back" depended on the elasticity of the skin to start with and the body area treated.

The amount of skin tightening with laser liposuction is probably about 50 percent better than what would have been achieved with traditional liposuction, said Dr. Abbas Chamsuddin, study lead author and an interventional radiologist at the Center for Laser and Interventional Surgery in Atlanta.

The researchers did not, however, include a group that received traditional liposuction for comparison. To see how laser liposuction stacks up, Chamsuddin would like to conduct another study in which a second group of patients receives traditional liposuction.

The study is scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in New Orleans.

The newer form of liposuction also has the potential to remove more fat than traditional liposuction and lead to less blood loss because the laser dries the blood vessels, Chamsuddin said.

The procedures for laser and traditional liposuction have similarities. Both involve injecting a solution into the fat to numb the area and shrink blood vessels in the region (to reduce blood loss), and making a cut of about one-tenth of an inch, Chamsuddin said.

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