The Cleveland Clinic

Ultrasonic-Assisted Lipoplasty

Why Have the Procedure?

Some people have stubborn areas of fat cells that will not shrink no matter how much they diet or exercise. The common areas for these fat pockets include the chin, neck, hips, abdomen, thighs, buttocks and even calves and ankles.

A newer technique called ultrasonic-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) may help you address that unwanted fat. UAL is an enhancement to the currently used tumescent liposuction method. To keep your new shape and new weight after this lipoplasty, you will need to follow a proper diet and exercise plan.

How Does Lipoplasty Differ From Other Liposuction Techniques?

UAL uses high-frequency sound waves to liquefy fat beneath the skin's surface before removing it with gentle suction. Tumescent liposuction and traditional liposuction cannot liquefy fat cells, and this makes the fat more difficult to remove.

What Are the Benefits of Lipoplasty?

Early results by a select group of plastic surgeons internationally have been encouraging. However, further study is needed to determine if lipoplasty will replace existing liposuction techniques.

UAL allows physicians to remove significant amounts of fat in a single session because the fat is liquefied by sound waves. It can be especially useful in areas of dense fat such as the back. The use of sound waves prevents surrounding blood vessels and connective tissue from being damaged because fat cells are selectively destroyed and removed.

What Happens During Ultrasonic-Assisted Lipoplasty?

Several steps are involved. Similar to traditional liposuction, the skin is marked to indicate the precise area from which the fat will be removed. Next, a large amount of very dilute anesthetic solution is injected into the body site to numb and swell the fatty area (tumescent technique).

Then, in a step unique to lipoplasty, a thin tube-like instrument called an ultrasonic probe is inserted beneath the skin through a small incision. The probe is maneuvered in a crisscross pattern while sound waves generate negative pressure, causing the fat cells to implode, or collapse, and liquefy. The liquefied fat and anesthetic fluid are removed using gentle suction.

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