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 laser lipo different to normal liposuction?
- Who will perform laser lipo?
- Can I have a number of areas treated in one session?
- How much fat can be removed?
- What research was done to prove the procedure works?
- I’ve read the procedure is very quick and involves no downtime. Is this true?
- How soon will I see results?
- Do I need to have the treatment more than once?
- Where does the fat go? Does it enter the bloodstream?
- What skin tightening treatments can I have after laser lipo?
- What can I do if I have lumps after the treatment?
- Does it hurt?
- Is it safe for the face?
- If I have the minimally invasive procedure, how long will I need to recover?
- Is it permanent?
- Does it tighten the skin?
- Can it get rid of my cellulite?
Who it’s suitable for
- 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?
- What age group best suits laser lipo?
How is laser lipo different to normal liposuction?
Normal liposuction doesn’t use lasers and instead 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 laser lipo 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.
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.
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.
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.
What is the best recommended diet before undergoing the treatment?
Rather than switch to any sort of ‘fad diet’, simply eat a well-balanced and healthy diet that you’ll find easy to continue with after your procedure.
It’s advised that you avoid foods which are high in salt just before and after surgery as the salt can contribute to fluid retention. Eat plenty of protein, as this can help the healing process.
Read more on eating a healthy diet 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.
Where does the fat go? Does it enter the bloodstream?
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 skin tightening treatments can I have after laser lipo?
The only effective way to get rid of loose skin after your laser lipo treatment is to undergo surgery. This might be:
- a tummy tuck
- a facelift
- an upper arm lift
- a thigh lift
- a back lift
Generally, there is a surgical procedure for most parts of the body where your skin might be loose and saggy. A surgeon will remove the excess skin and tighten what remains.
Be aware that this is invasive surgery involving anaesthetic, incisions and, usually, weeks of recovery time.
Click here to see how SculpSure and tummy tucks compare.
Non-surgical ways to tighten skin
As mentioned above, surgery is the best way to fix loose skin. However, there are a few things you can do to help tighten your skin after laser lipo treatment.
- Exercise and resistance training
Your doctor will advise you to exercise regularly after undergoing laser lipo. You can tone your figure by doing simple cardio for 45 minutes each day, whether this is walking, jogging, running on a treadmill or some form of fitness workout.
If you do one hour’s resistance training alongside your cardio each day, you’ll tone your physique more quickly. Resistance training typically involves lifting weights, although there are exercises you can do to exert your body by lifting or pulling against resistance without having to use actual weights.
Choose weight-lifting exercises that target the parts of your body where your skin is in need of tightening. Lunges and squats are good for hips, buttocks and thighs, while tricep dips and bicep curls are effective at tightening skin on the arms.
Receiving a proper massage allows the blood in the skin to circulate more freely, which helps prevent the skin from sagging.
- Drink lots of water
Keeping your skin hydrated makes it tighter and healthier. The NHS recommends drinking 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day.
What can I do if I have lumps after the treatment?
Laser lipo can sometimes cause lumps of scar tissue (fibrosis) to form under the skin. If this happens to you, you might choose to undergo special lymphatic massage treatment to get rid of them.
This method of very deep and firm massaging aims to:
- break down the bumpy scar tissue
- stimulate your lymphatic system into flushing the melted fat out of your body more quickly
- reducing the amount of water you retain as a result of any swelling
You’ll likely need to return to the doctor for several massage sessions.
Does it 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.
Is it safe for the face?
Many of the various forms of laser lipo—SculpSure included—are FDA-approved for use on the chin and jowls. They are shown to produce excellent results in redefining the jawline and removing excess fat around the chin.
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.
Is it permanent?
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 know 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 more a cosmetic procedure than a weight loss procedure, it can have long-lasting results in terms of giving you more confidence in your appearance and boosting your self-esteem.
However, it 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.
Does it tighten the skin?
Yes, to some extent. The heat generated by the laser prompts your body into producing collagen, a protein which helps give the skin more structure.
A 2010 study investigating laser lipo’s potential in tightening and shrinking the skin found it to be quite effective compared to traditional liposuction.
With SculpSure, the effects are gradual, meaning you lose body fat over six to 12 weeks. Your skin should naturally tighten as you lose weight, but this might not happen for everyone.
No form of liposuction—laser lipo included—will tighten loose skin in the same way a tummy tuck would, for example. Indeed, if you had tight skin before treatment, you may not notice much of a difference. If your skin was quite loose, it’s likely to stay that way.
Can it get rid of my cellulite?
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.
What age group best suits laser lipo?
Age has little to do with whether laser lipo, or any form of liposuction, can be carried out. Above all, the doctor will how effective the procedure will treat the patient’s skin.
However, an optimum age for the treatment would be 30–40. At this point in life, your skin doesn’t have the same elasticity and tightness as it did when you were in your 20s, for example.
If you are under 30, diet and exercise will do more for your figure than any form of surgery.
Guide to laser lipolysis—what it is, how it works, results, side effects, costs, reviews