The New Standard in Non-Invasive Body Contouring

Laser Lipolysis FAQs

What is laser lipolysis?

Laser lipolysis (or “laser lipo”) is a procedure which uses heat from light-based technology to melt fat cells. It’s intended mainly to remove areas of body fat that prove difficult to lose through diet or exercise, such as:

  • saddlebags (fat deposits on the upper outer thighs)
  • love handles (belly fat around the torso)
  • double chins

There are two types of procedure—minimally invasive and non-invasive. (“Invasive” means breaking the skin by making an incision.) Both procedures are described in more detail below.

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)

What exactly does the procedure involve?

Minimally invasive laser lipo

Minimally invasive surgery requires an incision to be made and the laser inserted to break down the fat. It’s not a laser which is placed on top of your skin.

  1. The surgeon uses a special marker to mark the areas of your body they’re treating.
  2. They inject you with a local anaesthetic so they can make a small incision in your skin to insert the rest of the anaesthetic.
    Having a local anaesthetic means you’ll be awake for the whole procedure. However, you shouldn’t feel anything other than a bit of pressure or heat on your skin.
  3. When the anaesthetic has taken hold, the doctor inserts the laser (which is inside a cannula) through the incision and into the fatty part of your body.
  4. The heat from the laser liquefies the fat, which the doctor then ‘aspirates’ (sucks out) or leaves inside your body to be absorbed naturally.
    The heat also prompts your body to produce new collagen, which helps tighten the skin.

Non-invasive laser lipo

With non-invasive laser lipo, there are no incisions and there’s no suction.

  1. The doctor marks those areas of your body they’re going to treat.
  2. You lie down on a bed and the doctor fits the special applicator to your skin.
  3. During the first few minutes of the treatment, you’ll feel a cooling sensation that helps keep your skin comfortable throughout the process.
  4. After that, you’ll feel alternating warm and cool sensations as the laser begins to destroy your fat cells. This will continue until the treatment is complete.

SculpSure is non-invasive, meaning your skin won’t be damaged. Find out more about how it works here.

How do non-invasive and minimally invasive laser lipo compare?


Non-invasive (SculpSure)

Minimally invasive


No surgery


Recovery time

No downtime

1–2 days



Local anaesthesia applied to treatment area


Within 6–12 weeks

Within 1–3 months

Treatment areas

  • Chin
  • Neck
  • Abdomen
  • Waist and hips
  • Buttocks
  • Inner thigh
  • Outer thigh
  • Posterior thigh
  • Anterior thigh and knees
  • Calf
  • Lower back

Click here for a full list

  • Arms
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Inner thighs
  • Outer thighs
  • Back of neck

Time per session

25 minutes

1 hour–1.5 hours

Number of sessions

1–2 per area

1–2 per area

Destroys fat cells permanently?





Some bruising



Minor scarring


(0 = none; 10 = very uncomfortable)



Average cost

From £1,000

From £1,000

Who will perform the procedure?

Your laser lipo treatment will be carried out by a qualified:

  • plastic surgeon
  • doctor
  • nurse, or
  • anaesthetician

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.

Where on my body can I have laser lipo?

  • Chin
  • Neck
  • Lateral (outer) chest
  • Upper abdomen
  • Lower abdomen
  • Waist and hips
  • Buttocks
  • Inner thigh
  • Outer thigh
  • Posterior thigh
  • Anterior thigh and knees
  • Calf
  • Lower back

Click here to read more about where on your body you can have SculpSure.

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.

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.

Can laser lipo get rid of my cellulite?

Although laser lipo helps tighten the skin, it isn’t able to remove cellulite. Cynosure’s Cellulaze and PelleFirm treatments are designed specifically for that purpose.

Related content

SculpSure FAQs

The benefits and risks of SculpSure

Is laser lipo safe?

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(978) 256-4200

Disclaimer: *Results may vary from person to person and treatment to treatment.