But what about “lunchtime lipo” with one of those Smartlipo™ lasers instead?
Well. About four years ago the market exploded (right before it tanked) with a bunch of "liposuction lasers" that were supposed to painlessly melt fat away in under an hour–no anesthesia, no surgery. My patients all started asking me about the Smartlipo™ and the Cool Lipo™ and the Slim Lipo™, etc. They'd read online that you could just have it done in the office, no "going under," none of that taboo "liposuction" was necessary.
I own a Smartlipo™ machine. And I think it does accomplish some things. But it is not a replacement for liposuction.
There are two places that my Smartlipo™ machine is very useful. One is on the bikini model I mentioned earlier who has about five fat cells below her belly button that she just can't get rid of with diet and exercise. The second is in the area under the chin and along the jawline, when you are trying to give someone more of an "Audrey Hepburn" profile.
It also does help with skin tightening. It's not going to give you a "tummy tuck" but I have definitely seen improvement in skin tone after using it. But no, I would not recommend putting it in the face. Although I did once use it for that puffy area above the nasolabial folds (lines that go from your nose to the corner of your mouth) and it seemed to flatten it out.
But trying to "melt away the fat" from larger areas instead of just sucking it out is like trying to reinvent the wheel. It does melt fat, but the laser tip is only a millimeter in diameter (less than the width of the tip of a ballpoint pen), so its "sculpting" effect is really limited. I mean, how much heat would you really want radiating from it? What about causing third degree burns to the skin?
You have to suck the fat out anyway. The companies selling the laser told us that that part was "optional" but if you want a true result, it's not. So even though the laser itself doesn't hurt, and can be done with barely any local in a very short time period while you're awake, it also doesn't get enough of a result by itself.
None of these lasers are any better than the others. If you've ever seen one of those Entertainment Tonight segments about them you will notice that the plastic surgeon always sticks the lipo cannula in afterwards and nobody says so, but that's where the real fat loss is happening.
Bottom line: "Laser liposuction" is a great tool. But in most cases, it is a useful adjunct to–not a "quick fix" replacement for–the real deal.