There are several liposuction techniques available and these can be categorized according to the amount of fluid that is injected and how the tube (cannula) used to remove fat deposits is used. Examples of the various liposuction techniques are given below.
This is the standard liposuction technique and involves a cannula that is attached to a vacuum device being inserted into the treatment area where it is moved back and forth to break up fat deposits and remove them from the body via suction.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL)
For this procedure, a special type of cannula that emits ultrasound vibrations is used to burst and liquefy fat cells, so that they are easier to remove by suction. The technique is useful for more fibrous treatment areas such as the male breast or the upper back.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL)
This technique uses a type of cannula that has a mechanized movement, so that less manual movements are required by the surgeon.
Twin-cannula (assisted) liposuction (TCAL or TCL)
Here, a tube-within-a-tube is used to remove the fat cells. The inner cannula that aspirates fat is then less likely to damage the patient’s tissue when it is moved back and forth.
External ultrasound-assisted liposuction (XUAL or EUAL)
Here, ultrasonic energy is applied externally through the skin meaning UAL is not required. Surgeons developed this technique after finding that UAL could cause skin necrosis and also seromas, small pockets of yellow fluid that resemble hematomas.
Water-assisted liposuction (WAL)
For this procedure, a thin, fan-shaped water beam is used to dislodge the fat deposits so they can be removed by a special cannula.
Laser assisted liposuction
Here, a fibre threaded through a microcannula emits laser energy which is used to break up fat deposits so they are easier to remove through suction.
For this technique, a surgeon uses a solution containing a local anesthetic and vasoconstrictor (adrenaline), which is injected directly into the subcutaneous fat. This enables the whole liposuction procedure to be performed by local anesthesia.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc