Lifewatch: Water liposuction

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - While it helps many people slim down, liposuction isn't easy.  It requires anesthesia and often leads to swelling, pain, and days of bruising.

Now water is helping patients look leaner without the long recovery.

Kathryn Nantz is happy to show off all her old clothes.  She went from a size 16 to a size 8 after diet, exercise, and liposuction.

"It's just the best thing I ever did for myself," said Kathryn.

Kathryn had aqua lipo, which is what patient Candie Coulter will also experience.

"I'm here to get rid of what I call my baby pooch," said Coulter.

Dr. Roger Bassin makes two small incisions in the patient's sides and numbs the area, all while she's awake.  He then uses an instrument to spray water into her abdomen.

"With traditional liposuction, the stuff everyone sees on TV with the doctor literally going back and forth, what you're doing is making mashed potatoes out of somebody," said Dr. Bassin.

Instead of using harsh motions to dislodge fat, the water gently breaks it up.  The instrument sucks out the fat, and Dr. Bassin uses a laser to tighten skin and melt away leftover fat.

With the new procedure there is less bruising, swelling, and trauma to the nerves, muscles, and skin.

It costs about $3,000, which is less than standard lip because patients don't require general anesthesia.

"The patient's going to drive themselves to the office, get the procedure done, drive themselves home, go back to work that day or the next day," said Bassin.

Liposuction is only for people who want to sculpt, not lose weight.  Dr. Bassin is only the third doctor in the country to use the new aqua-jet lipo technique.

For more information, please contact:
The Bassin Center for Facial Plastic Surgery
(407) 851-3888

BACKGROUND: Liposuction, or body contouring, is a type of cosmetic surgery performed to remove unwanted deposits of excess fat, improve body appearance and smooth irregular body shapes. The procedure can be performed under the chin and on the neck, cheeks, upper arms, breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves and ankles. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction surgeries dropped 19 percent in 2008. Experts attribute the drop mainly to the state of the economy. Still, more than 245,000 Americans had the procedure done. The National Institutes of Health cautions that liposuction is a serious surgical procedure that can involve a painful recovery. It also carries the risk of serious and fatal complications like shock, infection and embolism, which occurs when pieces of fat break loose into the bloodstream and cause blockages.

MISCONCEPTIONS: Many people come to their plastic surgeon hoping to lose weight with liposuction, but surgeons say this is not the purpose of the procedure. "Liposuction is a body sculpting technique," Roger Bassin, M.D., a plastic surgeon at the Bassin Center for Plastic Surgery in Orlando, Fla., told Ivanhoe. "It's not a fat or weight reduction program." Many people also believe liposuction can eliminate cellulite. This is not true, experts say, because liposuction removes fat, and cellulite is a problem with skin architecture, not fat. In fact, liposuction may in some cases worsen the appearance of cellulite.

SPRAYING AWAY FAT: Developed in Germany in 2007, water-jet liposuction is the newest liposuction procedure. During the surgery, a plastic surgeon uses high water pressure to dislodge fat cells and remove excess fatty tissue. "We're really power-washing the fat out of the body," Dr. Bassin, the third doctor in the United States to use water-jet liposuction, told Ivanhoe. Most of the time, water-jet liposuction doesn't require the patient to undergo general anesthesia. Although conventional liposuction can't get rid of cellulite completely, some surgeons believe the water-jet procedure can. The difference is water-jet liposuction breaks apart cellulite and makes it easier to remove. Another advantage of the new procedure is the removed fat doesn't have to be processed before being injected into another area of the body. "The fat cells are right there and ready for us to use and inject ... right away," Dr. Bassin said.

Copyright © 2009 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.