Wall Street Journal

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Laser Liposuction Lacks Clear Advantage

LiposuctionLasers are cool and high tech, right? So adding a laser to liposuction should make it cooler, or higher tech, or something better–right? Maybe not.

There's little evidence that Smartlipo, a laser-assisted liposuction technique, is an improvement over the type of liposuction commonly performed for body sculpting, the WSJ reports.

The home page for the Smartlipo device puts it this way: "If you're seeking a cutting-edge, highly effective method to significantly improve the safety and efficiency of many surgical techniques, then laser technology is definitely the technique you'll want to consider."

The editor of the journal of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery puts it this way: "Smartlipo is a marketing gimmick to get people through the door." The editor, William P. Coleman III, adds that there's no scientific evidence in human tests that Smartlipo improves outcomes, tightens skin or speeds recovery, compared to tumescent liposuction, the WSJ reports.

Smartlipo uses a laser to melt fat, which advocates claim makes it easier for the doctor performing the procedure to remove the fat. Some doctors also say the laser, which adds hundreds of dollars to the cost of liposuction, tightens skin. But the laser-assisted procedure hasn't been proven to be better than good ol' tumescent liposuction, in which doctors use long, thin tubes called cannulas to suck out the fat.

Doctors' wariness about the device is a natural response to any innovation, says Michael Davin, the chief executive of Cynosure, the company that sells the Smartlipo device here. "It's typical of new technologies that some physicians will at first be skeptical," he told the WSJ.