Getting Smartlipo in Atlanta
What is Smartlipo?
Smartlipo, is a medical device used for laser lipolysis (fat melting) or laser-assisted liposuction. It is a minimally invasive procedure. Through tiny openings in the skin a cannula, housing a laser fiber, is inserted and used to melt and liquefy the unwanted fat. Once melted, aspiration or suction is applied to remove the damaged fat cells from the area.
The thermal heat delivered by the laser is also absorbed by the surrounding skin tissue causing skin tightening. Smartlipo provides results with significantly less downtime as compared to traditional liposuction1. Smartlipo can be used to remove fat from areas of the body where patients have not been able to reduce with diet and exercise.
Regardless of ethnicity or skin type, studies have shown that laser liposuction procedures do not cause changes in skin pigmentation2 or increase the possibility of complications, including thermal burn injuries to the skin3.
Smartlipo was approved by the FDA in 2006 as the first laser to be used for laser-assisted liposuction4. WIFH began its Atlanta Smartlipo liposuction program in 2008 after we observed enough data and results to determine its efficacy as one of the best laser liposuction procedures available.
To date, our staff has performed over 10,000 Smartlipo procedures. This body contouring procedure treats many areas of the body including the abdomen, flanks, thighs (inner and outer), bra fat, arms, male chests and chin.
1. Katz, B., McBean, J., (2008). Laser-assisted lipolysis: A report on complications. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2008; 10: Pages 231–233.
2. Reynaud J., Skibinski M., Wassmer B., Rochon P., Mordon S., (2009). Lipolysis using a 980-nm diode laser: a retrospective analysis of 534 procedures. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2009 Jan; 33(1):28-36.
3. Ali, Y., (2018). Laser-assisted Lipolysis Burn Safety: Proposed Detailed Parameters with Assessment of Their Efficacy and Safety. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open. 2018 Oct 3; 6(10)e1934.
4. Melkerson, Mark. “Re: K083795.” Department of Health & Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. 31 October 2006. Letter. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf6/K062321.pdf
How Does Smartlipo Work?
Smartlipo is performed under local anesthesia, meaning the patient remains awake and aware throughout the entire procedure. The Smartlipo laser gently melts the fat before it is suctioned from the body. Because the fat has been melted before it is suctioned out, Dr. Cox is able to use tiny instruments to perform the procedure, preventing excessive tissue trauma. Dr. Cox and his surgical team do NOT use an IV or any injected sedation, reducing risk of complications.
An added benefit of laser-assisted liposuction is that the heating and melting of the fat prior to removal tightens the skin5.
At WIFH, Dr. Cox uses the Smartlipo Triplex version of Smartlipo — the strongest and latest version of the laser available today. It allows the use of three wavelengths of laser, which can be used independently or in combination. This is very important to keep in mind as lower powered machines cannot deliver enough deep tissue heating to provide skin tightening.
5. DiBernardo, B., Reyes, J., (2009). Preliminary Report: Evaluation of Skin Tightening After Laser-Assisted Liposuction. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 29, Issue 5, September 2009, Pages 400–407, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asj.2009.08.006
What are the Risks/Side Effects?
One of the primary risk factors for complications during a surgical procedure of any kind is the type of anesthesia that is administered. The same holds true in body contouring procedures. More invasive surgical procedures such as traditional liposuction utilize general anesthesia or IV sedation to render the patient unconscious. Dr. Cox does not use general or IV sedation for Smartlipo procedures.
For Smartlipo, Dr. Cox uses local anesthesia to thoroughly numb/anesthetize the treatment area. In addition to local anesthesia being the safest form of anesthesia, its effects also last several hours post-procedure, decreasing the need for narcotic pain medications after surgery. For patients who experience anxiety about being awake during the procedure, Dr. Cox can prescribe oral sedative to be taken prior to beginning treatment.
Because patient safety is the No. 1 priority for Dr. Cox and the WIFH medical team, we are proud to report zero adverse outcomes or sentinel events as a result of the Smartlipo treatment.
Preparing for Smartlipo
6-8 Weeks Before the Procedure
- Prospective patients can best prepare for Smartlipo by keeping these tips in mind:
Eat healthy and prepare for new lifestyle changes. Smartlipo is not a weight loss procedure. Patients will need to continue a lifestyle of diet and exercise to maintain results.
- Patients should discuss any medications they are taking with their provider, including any supplements. At WIFH, patients should provide this information to Dr. Cox at the time of their consultation.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try to stop smoking at least 6 weeks out from the procedure. Smokers tend to heal slower, so it is recommended to stop smoking. However, the patient can still have the procedure if they continue to smoke.
- In some cases preoperative blood-work may be requested. The patient can either return to the WIFH office to have those labs drawn, or they can visit a laboratory closest to them. There is no additional cost for these labs.
One Week Before the Procedure
- Discontinue taking fish oils and daily supplements. These tend to thin the blood. Multi-vitamins are fine to continue to take.
- Patients should always check with their surgeon about any medications that they are taking. Some doctors may require the discontinuation of certain medications prior to surgery. The surgeon may also request clearance/permission from the patient’s prescribing or primary care physician.
- Do not take Aspirin, Ibuprofen, mega doses of Vitamin E, Aleve, or herbal medications. They cause the blood to thin, which can lead to unnecessary bleeding and bruising.
The Day of the Treatment
Because the idea of being awake during the procedure does make some patients a little anxious, our medical team can prescribe a mild pain and anti-anxiety medicines to take, just prior to the procedure.
These medications are not for pain management, but simply to relax the patient. If the patient declines these medications, they are able to drive themselves home following the procedure. Roughly 85% of WIFH patients undergo Smartlipo with no oral medications.
Because general anesthesia is not used, patients are able to eat and drink prior to the procedure. In fact, Dr. Cox encourages patients to eat a light meal before coming to the office so the oral medication (should they elect to take them) does not cause an upset stomach.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Smartlipo procedures are performed right in our office under the direct care of Dr. Cox. It is important to note that no one but Dr. Cox performs any of the surgical procedures at WIFH.
Patients are awake and aware during the procedure, but are comfortable and do not experience any pain. A lidocaine solution is used to completely numb the treatment area.
Once the area is fully numb, very tiny incisions are placed in the skin, these incisions are approximately 1/8″ and a micro-cannula, that encases the laser fiber is inserted underneath the skin. The laser’s heat energy simultaneously melts the fat and tightens the skin. The liquefied fatty fluid is suctioned out of the body. Patients remain comfortable throughout the procedure and will only feel pressure and movement. Many WIFH patients talk on their phones or listen to music while getting Smartlipo.
Depending on the area or areas of the body being treated the actual procedure could last 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. Example: a chin will take approximately 30 minutes and an abdomen will take 1.5-2 hours.
Smartlipo Recovery Time
At the completion of the procedure the tiny incisions are closed with sutures and the patient is helped into a compression garment. The compression garment will be worn for four weeks post procedure.
WIFH patients are all able to walk out of the office, and the majority even drive themselves home. However, do expect some recovery time following the procedure. Patients will feel sore for several days after the procedure, but it should not hinder daily activity. Patients also experience minimal bruising and some swelling, which will dissipate over the next few weeks following the procedure.
It is also normal to experience some fluid drainage from the lower incision sites for the first day or two after the procedure. Patients should be able to return to work in a few days or even the next day.
Recovery time will vary from patient-to-patient. Activities such as exercise can resume as soon as the patient feels up to it, but patients should always listen to their bodies. High impact exercise, like running, may not feel comfortable for a couple of weeks.
Patients will begin to see results as soon as the swelling goes away (which is around that 1 month mark), however final results are expected around 6 months post procedure.
WIFH believes it is critical for anyone considering a surgical procedure to personally meet with the surgeon who will be performing the procedure. For this reason, our patients have a personal, complimentary consultation with Dr. Cox to discuss their goals.
Dr. Cox will assess the area(s) and will make recommendations for treatment. He will also take a comprehensive medical history so that we are aware of any health issues the patient may have. If Smartlipo is not right for the patient, he will tell them! WIFH’s goal for every patient is for them to be happy with their results, so we want to be sure this procedure aligns with their expectations.
The price of Smartlipo varies depending upon the area(s) being treated and the size of the patient. Typically, Smartlipo costs anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000.
Click here to see WIFH’s current Smartlipo pricing.
Who are good Candidates for Smartlipo?
Is Smartlipo safe for all skin types?
Is Smartlipo better than traditional liposuction?
Will I be awake during the Smartlipo procedure, what will I feel?
Where is the procedure done?
What medication should I discontinue before the procedure?
What if I smoke or use recreational drugs?
Can I eat before the procedure?
Will I be covered during the Smartlipo procedure?
What can I expect when I get home?
When will I notice results from Smartlipo?
Does someone have to drive me home?
What major complications have you had?
*Results vary from person to person and are not guaranteed