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Beauty Tech Review: Body Contouring - Laser Assisted Liposuction


Laser lipolysis procedures promise quicker healing and greater skin tightening. Dr. Thomas Barnes shares his opinion on this promising technology.

Laser assisted liposuction, or laser lipo is big business right now, especially with more and more patients seeking out less invasive procedures that let them get back to work quickly and provide reliable results. Orange County cosmetic surgeon Dr. Thomas Barnes shares with us exactly what laser lipo is and how it works.

"Laser lipolysis can be used, basically anywhere you do lipo," says Dr. Barnes. "Some of the areas where it's really excellent is the neck which I do my own procedure I call a shrink lift where I do lipo of the neck.... I can go in with a laser and affect a lot more shrinkage and less duration of swelling post op. The next day, they'll see a major tightening over where I just did lipo, so I love in on the neck.... [O]f course, upper and lower abs, across the male breast...."

Dr. Barnes says that one of the key benefits he and many other physicians have found with laser lipo is the increased skin tightening provided by the laser. "Most of us believe, and I say most of us, in spite of the data some people still don't believe it, you get increase skin shrinkage - skin tightening - in addition to what you get from liposuction alone."

Another critical benefit is a quicker healing time. Dr. Barnes informs us, "The second issue - that I think is the most important issue because anybody under 40 might not need the skin tightening as much - is you get what I call the thermal wound conversion due to the laser. Instead of the battlefield injury associated with liposuction - we're ripping and tearing like a gunshot wound - it changes with the heating of the laser under there. It really changes the cascade of the healing. And you get people back to work in a few days instead of a week or two and they only wear the garment maybe 2 weeks instead of 6 weeks with lipo alone."

lipolite before and after photos
Actual LipoLite Results of Dr. Thomas Barnes
Results photo was taken the next day after this lunchtime lipo procedure

Dr. Barnes says that different physicians use different techniques in laser assisted liposuction, which is often dependent on the laser used. "You can take 10 doctors and there might be 10 different ways they use the laser. Some of the higher powered lasers for laser lipolysis, you can actually melt all of the fat - deep, superficial. I have gone back to extracting fat deeper because it's faster and I don't have to worry about the thermal implications of delivering a whole lot of heat." Dr. Barnes goes on to say, "The thermal implications should not be overlooked. That heat continues to heat and well up to the subdermal plexus for probably half an hour after you're done. You can easily exceed the tolerances of the dermis and create burns, full thickness. So I've gone back to not heating the deep fat which I certainly can do with my SmartLipo MPX, I've gone back to extracting as I have for 14 years prior to doing this, and then I bring the laser in at the end of case at lower amounts for longer to get my thermal wound conversion and my skin tightening. That's the way I do it."

When describing the ideal laser lipo patient, Dr. Barnes says, "The idealized patient would be one who comes in who's in pretty good shape and has stubborn pockets of fat. A little blip here, a little blip in the arms, tummy, thighs, love handles, inner knees. A great case is they are in good shape not hypertensive or diabetic, etc etc. You know their lifestyle is already somewhat controlled. What they take in nutritionally, they burn off every day. That would be idealized."

Dr. Barnes does caution that this treatment is not a method of weight loss control. "Liposuction and laser lipolysis is not for the treatment of obesity. It's for stubborn areas fat they just can't seem to get off but they're in pretty good shape otherwise. Maybe they're 20 to 30 pounds overweight."

dr thomas barnes
Dr. Thomas Barnes
Dr. Thomas Barnes is a Diplomate of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery in General Cosmetic Surgery and the Board of Certification in Plastic/ Reconstructive Surgery. After graduating from USC of Medicine, Dr. Barnes completed his residency at UCLA. His proven expertise in his field earned him the title of one of the pioneers in laser lipolysis. As an industry expert on SmartLipo, he trains other physicians on the precise art and science of laser assisted liposculpture. His vast experience includes extensive work with a myriad of lasers, fillers and all the latest procedures. He has practiced for over 15 years and is the head of the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center in Newport Beach, CA

American Health and Beauty Beauty Tech Review Body Contouring
American Health and Beauty, in an effort to provide the most up-to-date information to our readers, presents the Beauty Tech Review. The next installment in this ongoing series discusses Body Contouring technology. Join American Health and Beauty editor, Keith Veseleny, as he speaks with leading physicians who share their knowledge on each body contouring platform.

The Beauty Tech Review: Body Contouring - will include: Dr. Mark Schusterman on Traditional Liposuction, Dr. Thomas Barnes on Laser Lipolysis, Dr. Jeffrey Hall and Dr. Victoria Falcone on Tickle Lipo, Dr. David Broadway on Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction, Dr. Todd Malan on {!Water Assisted Liposuction, | Body-Jet} Drs. Rox Anderson, Henry Chan and Lori Brightman on Zeltiq, Dr. Elizabeth VanderVeer on Injection Lipolysis, and Dr. Thomas Barnes and Dr. Richard D'Amico on Radio Frequency Liposuction.

Previous Beauty Tech Reviews have included the following topics: Laser Lipoloysis and Fractional Resurfacing.