Laser liposuction danger

Perhaps I am a modern plastic surgery Luddite. It seems that every day a new technology appears in the plastic surgical world that promises painless removal of fat, skin wrinkles and cellulite or building of muscles and making you godlike with a few zaps of some machine.

There are multiple liposuction machines that will remove fat with supposedly less pain and more skin retraction by freezing or melting it from the inside or outside of the skin, all with efficacy that is questionable or at least not proven to my very reasonable standards.

I am not saying that none of these technologies work, only that the results I have seen so far are poor and do not deliver what they promise. I look at the before and after photos of liposuction surgery provided by the manufacturers who, incidentally, market and sell these machines aggressively and with a price tag of $30,000-$100,000, and I see no difference. I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the results. What I do see is much worse.

Last week, a patient came to see me who had undergone a laser liposuction by “a doctor who dabbles in everything”—not a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgery. The surgery had gone horribly wrong.

The skin of the  whole lower portion of the abdomen that had been laser liposuctioned had first blistered and then died, leaving the patient with a large open wound. That is not what should  happen with a liposuction. The doctor—I am not sure she was even a surgeon—had then cut skin from the lower abdomen, telling the patient she did not need any muscle tightening, which she did. A long and unsightly scar was evident that had done nothing for the patient. After she is healed, she will need a real and full abdominoplasty to correct everything—and, believe it or not, it will cost her $2,000 less than what she paid for her original surgery!

Unproven liposuction technologies in the hands of poorly trained surgery practitioners are a recipe for disaster. Believe you me, cosmetic surgery is difficult enough in the hands of a fully trained, board-certified, experienced plastic surgeon. As the technologies mature and become easier to use and eventually do work as advertised, the number of poorly trained doctors who use them will increase—and so will the number of cosmetic patients who end up disfigured by cosmetic surgery through a bad decision.

Every year articles appear  in the press detailing the experiences of other unfortunate patients who had unqualified doctors perform cosmetic plastic surgery on them. Laser liposuction is a procedure that came and should go as soon as possible since its a tool for disaster in untrained hands.

For more information about liposuction, look here: https://tavmd/liposuction.html

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS