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Beauty Tech Review: Body Contouring - Water Assisted Liposuction


High pressure water has become one of the most effective tools for safely and effectively removing fat and contouring the body.

You know that water is good for you, but did you know it could actually be used to remove fat? One of the most popular new methods of liposuction is Water Assisted Lipo (WAL), and it is one of the standouts among the new body contouring technologies that patients have available to them today.

"With traditional liposuction, you're using ripping or tearing to remove the fat, so even if you're using a micro cannula or small cannula, it's still creating destruction of the tissue in order to remove the fat," says Dr. Todd Malan. "The fat is not isolated; it's attached to the same connective tissue that helps the skin to maintain its integrity. As you remove that fat with blunt or sharp dissection, it also creates the same trauma to that connective tissue, causing the skin to sag. With the water system liposuction, we're actually using a jet of water to blast the fat off its connective tissue like shaking grapes off a vine and then we can collect that fat."

Since WAL maintains the tissue integrity, it can be used in many different areas of the body. Dr. Malan says, "It can be used in any area of the body. You're really not limited. In fact there are particular areas where traditional liposuction has not really shown to work very well - and that includes the laser liposuction - such as the anterior thigh or buttock areas where you are concerned that if you break the connective tissue you're going to have rippling or sagging or drooping of the butt. With the water jet, because you leave all of that connective tissue intact you don't really have to be limited by worrying about working in an area with a lot of connective tissue. So the upper back, the mid-back, the anterior thigh, the calves, the actual buttock itself, the breast. You can actually really do a nice liposuction reduction with the water jet assisted liposuction again without damaging that connective tissue."
water assisted lipo
WAL results of Dr. Todd Malan

Fat transfer procedures have grown in popularity as patients opt for the combination of both removing fat from where they don't want it, and add bulk where they do - most often as a facial filler or for breast or buttock augmentation. Many of the other popular liposuction tools, such as laser lipo, actually melt and destroy the fat cells before they're removed, making it unusable in fat transfer. "I initially got the Body Jet as a tool for doing fat harvesting because I realized that it's a far superior instrument for actually harvesting fat so that when I put the fat into another area, I could maximize my survival," says Dr. Malan.

Dr. Malan noticed additional healing benefits from WAL as well. "After using it for [fat harvesting] I noticed my patients... healed so much quicker, their skin tightened up without the use of a laser and I saw those dramatic results that I always wanted to see with traditional liposuction that I just wasn't able to achieve with either lasers or micro liposuction or any of the other instruments out there. So, then I started to use the water jet on every single case in every area of the body."

Another advantage of WAL is the ability to treat even large patients. Dr. Malan says, "You can use it for someone who is looking for a massive reduction of volume with a BMI of 28 and 30 but where it really excels is in that patient that's got a BMI of 20 or 21 who has very isolated pockets of fat who needs a very small volume of fat removed and they need it to blend perfectly with the surrounding areas."

Patients enjoy the faster surgery, and it can actually help with the cost because of the speed of the procedure. "Patients tolerate this extremely well because we are actually blasting the tumescent solution, the numbing solution. It really effectively numbs the patients so I no longer have those issues with patients who are uncomfortable that requires me to slow down and take my time, and that's a delay in surgery time. In addition, it's much faster than traditional lipo. You don't need to wait for the numbing solution to set you can place the numbing solution in and you can get started right away. You use far less numbing solution than you would with traditional lipo - about 1/3 of the total volume that you would use with traditional lipo. And about 85% of that fluid is removed so you can see your contour results right away. You're not guessing how much of this is fluid and how much of this is fat. You have great pain control and it's a faster procedure."

Dr. Malan also says that WAL offers an improvement to patient safety. "Before I was an avid Vaser user, but I still had burns and seromas. That's just part of using that device. You just accept that that's a potential complication. With water, you don't have to worry about burn. There is very little bleeding, it's amazing how when you use this device correctly there is no nerve damage or skin damage. Studies show that patients who undergo regular traditional lipo are typically pain free in about 14 days but with water jet they are typically completely pain free in about 3 or 4 days so it makes a big difference."

Following the procedure, Dr. Malan says patients return to work in about 24 hours and don't need to wait for months to see your final result. "With the water jet assisted lipo, you see your end results right then and there and the patients can stand up and say wow this is amazing. They will have some sort of inflammatory response but it typically only last a few days instead of weeks. The skin tightening is so dramatic compared to any other method because with any other method that inflammatory response is going to prevent the skin from really retracting and sealing back down but because the inflammatory response is so minimal and the connective tissue is so intact we see that dramatic skin tightening right away."
dr malan
Dr. Todd Malan
Director of the Smartlipo Institute in of Scottsdale, Arizona, Todd K. Malan, M.D. has performed more Smartlipo? procedures than any surgeon in the United States. Dr. Malan received his Bachelors Degree from Brigham Young University where he was an All American Scholar. He graduated in the top 10% of his class and with Honors from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in May 1993. He then completed a Surgical Internship followed by the completion of residency at Walter Reed Army and Bethesda Naval hospitals in Washington, D.C.

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.