NBC News reports on new laser-assisted technology that melts fat, offering advantages over traditional liposuction. New Image Cosmetic Surgery in San Diego, founded by Dr. Jeffrey Schafer, is a leader in this new procedure, called laser lipolysis.

There are several drawbacks associated with traditional liposuction: increased blood loss, ecchymoses, long recovery times with increased postoperative discomfort, and skin laxity. Laser-assisted lipolysis (LAL or aka Laser Lipo) has advantages.

In October 2006, a 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the surgical incision, excision, vaporization, ablation, and coagulation of all soft tissues and has been used for LAL as well as improvement of areas of flaccidity. The objective of this new device is to melt fat while also reducing the blood loss, ecchymoses, long recovery times and skin laxity. It achieves these improvements by destruction of adipocytes, coagulating small blood vessels and collagen, the end result being reduced adiposity, skin retraction and decreased flaccidity.

A topical anesthesia is used for the procedure. An aesthetic medical doctor sets a cannula underneath the casing to suck away the liquefied plump. A small laser liposuction can be performed in about 30 minutes. Large areas may take up to 2 hours.

Laser liposuction charges vary from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the scope of work required.

The laser can be used in many areas of the abdomen, hips and neck.

No systemic complications have been identified and few local complications reported. These complications included local infections and skin burns. Touch-up procedures may be necessary. Laser-assisted lipolysis (LAL) is a safe adjunct to traditional tumescent liposuction which assists in melting fat and tightening the skin. LAL may serve as a useful tool for the surgeon performing liposuction.