Click here to read our main guide to laser lipolysis, which explains how the procedure works, the results you can expect and what the treatment costs.
- How is it different to normal liposuction?
- Who will perform the procedure?
- Can I have a number of areas treated in one session?
- Does laser lipo hurt?
- How much fat can be removed?
- What research was done to prove the procedure works?
- Is it aimed at people who are significantly overweight?
- I’m pregnant. Can I have laser lipo?
- Is there an age limit on who can have the procedure?
- I’ve read the procedure is very quick and involves no downtime. Is this true?
- If I have the minimally invasive procedure, how long will I need to recover?
- How soon will I see results?
- Do I need to have the treatment more than once?
- What do I need to do to prepare?
- Do I have to do anything else, or will the treatment alone get rid of my fat?
- Where does the fat go?
- What are the long-term effects?
- Can laser lipo get rid of my cellulite?
How is it different to normal liposuction?
Normal liposuction doesn’t use lasers, but removes fat by sucking it out through thin plastic tubes (called cannula) inserted through tiny cuts in the skin.
The patient is usually put to sleep with general anaesthetic for the procedure. Liposuction also has added risks, including:
- discoloured skin
- irregular body shape
- seroma (a pocket of fluid under the skin)
Who will perform the procedure?
Your laser lipo treatment will be carried out by a qualified:
- plastic surgeon
- nurse, or
SculpSure can also be administered by any practitioner with the proper training.
These professionals are highly experienced in all body contouring techniques. They will use their judgment to assess your body and help you make the right decision about what procedure is best for you.
Can I have a number of areas treated in one session?
Yes—and at the same time. You’ll likely need to reposition yourself a few times during treatment, which means the surgery will take longer. However, it also means you need to attend fewer sessions.
Does laser lipo hurt?
Pain is relative, of course, and people have different thresholds. However, generally speaking, the pain you may feel will depend on the type of treatment you receive.
- Minimally invasive laser lipo (e.g. SmartLipo) might be considered more painful because the recovery process takes longer and requires some bed rest.
- Non-invasive laser lipo (e.g. SculpSure) is generally less painful because you’re not undergoing surgery. SculpSure patients describe the sensation of the treatment as a deep warmth with intermittent coolness.
To read more about aftercare for laser lipo treatment, click here.
How much fat can be removed?
The maximum amount of fat that can be safely removed in one procedure varies from patient to patient—clearly, larger patients will have more fat to lose.
However, five litres tends to be the guideline given by many medical practitioners who offer the treatment. Your doctor will be able to tell you how much of your fat can be safely removed.
What research was done to prove the procedure works?
Laser lipo is considered an effective way to reduce fat, and various studies have backed up early observations to this effect, according to a 2011 paper published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
- A clinical study was conducted in 2013 in which 2,183 patients had laser lipo on areas such as the belly, thighs, calves and love handles. Monitored over three years, the patients were found to have lost significant fat in various parts of the body and gained tighter skin, without suffering any serious complications.
- A recent study that used ultrasound images to judge fat loss post-treatment showed that SculpSure significantly reduced fat. The study also asked reviewers to identify before and after photos of those who had been treated. 90% of reviewers were able to correctly identify the pictures.
Is it aimed at people who are significantly overweight?
No. Laser lipo is designed to contour and shape the body rather than treat weight loss. For this reason, it’s aimed at people who:
- are at, or near, their healthy body weight
- want to remove areas of fat they’ve been unable to shed through diet or exercise
I’m pregnant. Can I have laser lipo?
You should wait until at least eight weeks after the birth. Not only is your skin more stretched than normal, but the local anaesthetic you’re given for the procedure can get into your bloodstream and harm the baby’s growth. The results are also unpredictable due to hormonal changes in your body.
Is there an age limit on who can have the procedure?
There’s no age limit, but patients under the age of 18 would have to be referred by a paediatric doctor.
I’ve read the procedure is very quick and involves no downtime. Is this true?
A minimally invasive procedure with incision and suction will take two to three hours and involve some downtime. You can usually leave immediately after receiving the treatment but as you might still be feeling the effects of the anaesthetic you’ll need someone to drive you home.
A non-invasive procedure such as SculpSure takes around 25 minutes and has no effect on your daily life.
If I have the minimally invasive procedure, how long will I need to recover?
The recovery process for minimally invasive laser lipo is explained here.
How soon will I see results?
It takes your body three to six months to naturally metabolise liquefied fat to a point where you can see the effects. If the procedure involves suction, the results will be more obvious and immediate.
With a non-invasive procedure like SculpSure, many patients start to see results as early as six weeks after treatment, with the best results seen at around 12 weeks.
Click here to see some before-and-after images of patients who have had SculpSure.
Do I need to have the treatment more than once?
Although most patients will start to see results after one treatment, we recommend two treatments on each area for maximum results.
What do I need to do to prepare?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what you need to do to ready yourself for a minimally invasive procedure. Read more on how to prepare for laser lipo treatment here.
Do I have to do anything else, or will the treatment alone get rid of my fat?
Laser lipo isn’t a miracle cure—it’s designed to complement your healthy eating and exercise plan and make it more effective. You still have to do the work! Keeping to a healthy lifestyle will help you achieve the body shape you want.
Where does the fat go?
Laser lipo melts your fat cells into liquefied form. The liquefied fat can either be sucked out or—as with non-invasive procedures like SculpSure—left inside your body to be flushed out by your lymphatic system (tissues and organs that work together to get rid of waste products inside your body).
What are the long-term effects?
As mentioned, laser lipo is more a cosmetic procedure than a weight loss procedure. It can have long-lasting results but it cannot completely prevent you from gaining weight in the future.
The procedure does permanently destroy some of your fat cells, but the cells that remain can grow in size and cause you to gain weight. As a result, you need to be aware of what you have to do to maintain your new body shape, and follow your doctor’s advice. This will mainly be a recommendation to eat healthily and do regular exercise.
Because laser lipo is cosmetic, it’s also likely to give you more confidence in your physical appearance and boost your self-esteem.