Expert Doctor


Posted July 27, 2018

SmartLipo uses a combination of liposuction and laser technology to reduce body fat while tightening loose skin. SmartLipo is also known as laser liposuction since it utilizes low-energy laser heat to soften and melt the fat prior to suctioning. This type of laser technology is commonly performed on the abdomen, thighs and arms and it is especially beneficial in areas where the fat is more fibrous such as the love handles and the back. SmartLipo generally has less bleeding, bruising and swelling than traditional liposuction. The heat from the fiber optic laser softens and melts the fat and works under the surface of the skin to stimulate collagen production. This helps to tighten skin better than what can be achieved with traditional liposuction.

Am I a Good Candidate for SmartLipo?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for SmartLipo includes:

  • Male or female patients near their ideal weight who want a better body contour
  • Patients with localized areas of fat resistant to diet and exercise
  • A patient with good muscle and skin tone
  • Male patients troubled by gynecomastia AKA enlarged fatty breast tissue
  • Patients who have already had liposuction but want a touch-up treatment with added skin tightening

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for SmartLipo:

  • Patients who are substantially overweight or obese
  • Patients with excess, hanging skin
  • Patients with serious health issues such as kidney, heart or liver conditions

How Is SmartLipo Performed?

SmartLipo generally takes less than an hour for each targeted area and can be performed in a medical office or at a surgical facility. The surgical location and type of anesthesia used will be determined by the treatment area and the amount of fat removed. The surgeon will numb the area and make a tiny incision, between 2-3 mm long, for each treatment area. A very thin tube is inserted directly into the targeted fat deposit through which a local anesthesia mixture of lidocaine, saline and epinephrine is injected into the treatment area. Next, the laser is inserted into the fat and moved back and forth.  The movement and laser energy work together to rupture and liquify the targeted fat cells. Next, a thin suction tube cannula is inserted and the liquefied fat and fluids are suctioned through tiny holes in the cannula. The incisions are typically so small that few sutures are needed. The surgeon may use surgical dressing or medical tape to cover the areas.

Alternative Treatments

Alternatives to SmartLipo include:

  • Tumescent Liposuction is performed in the same manner as SmartLipo but a laser is not used. The surgeon will still infiltrate the treatment area with local anesthesia fluids and use a cannula to suction the fat. Because a laser is not used to pretreat the fat, the suctioning can be more traumatic and result in more bleeding and bruising. Furthermore, tumescent liposuction does not provide the degree of skin tightening that SmartLipo can offer.
  • Patients with excess skin on the abdomen, and poor muscle tone from pregnancy or weight fluctuations, may be better suited for an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. A tummy tuck involves cutting out extra skin with underlying fat while tightening the abdominal muscles and remaining skin. Liposuction does not remove extra skin or tighten the muscles. While SmartLipo can remove fat, and tighten mild to moderately lax skin, it is considered a body contouring treatment. However, a tummy tuck is a more invasive procedure than SmartLipo with more risks and a longer recovery time.  

What is the Cost of SmartLipo?

The cost of SmartLipo depends on the treatment area, the number of areas being treated, fees charged by the surgeon or the facility and the geographic location of the treatment. SmartLipo can cost anywhere from $2500-$5000. Since SmartLipo is a cosmetic procedure, medical insurance does not cover the cost of this procedure.

Recovery and Downtime

RECOVERY from SmartLipo is less than other liposuction techniques and this is especially true when using local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. However, patients should arrange for a family member or friend to drive them home since they will not be permitted to drive home right after the procedure. The local anesthesia generally wears off within a few hours after the procedure. Following SmartLipo, patients can expect swelling, bruising and mild to moderate discomfort.  A compression garment will be placed on the treatment area to minimize the swelling and assist the skin in contracting to the new contours. This garment should be worn close to 24 hours a day for the first few weeks.

Patients can resume most activities after the treatment. Walking around the house several times a day, during the first days, can help speed the healing process and promote good circulation. Patients can shower and resume light activities the day after the procedure but it is recommended that patients take at least a couple days off work. The initial swelling can last for one or two weeks.  Most swelling resolves within a month but it can take up to several months for swelling to completely resolve and to see the final result.  Patients can usually return to regular activities and exercise within five to seven days after SmartLipo.


The results from SmartLipo are not immediate due to swelling and bruising. Most patients will see some results, within a week, as the swelling subsides. While the heat from the laser causes the skin to experience a degree of tightening, due to the contracting of the skin, not every patient will see the same skin tightening effects. The patient’s age and skin elasticity impact how well the skin contracts. Nevertheless, the skin will continue to improve over the next few months. Patients can expect to see the results in about 3 to 6 months since it takes approximately 6 months for the skin to finish contracting. Although the fat cells which are removed are gone, fat deposits can accumulate near the treatment area and void the results if a patient gains weight. Therefore, it is important to follow a regular diet and exercise plan to maintain the results of SmartLipo.

Limitations of SmartLipo

The limitations of SmartLipo include:

  • The amount of fat that can be removed at one time
  • It does not remove excess skin
  • The degree of skin tightening that can occur is variable

Risks of SmartLipo

The risks associated with SmartLipo include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Hematoma
  • Lumps, bumps or skin irregularities
  • Skin laxity
  • Poor wound healing
  • Asymmetry (due to uneven fat removal)
  • Burns from the heat of the laser
  • Scarring
  • Unsatisfactory results

Choosing a SmartLipo Surgeon

SmartLipo is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure designed to safely remove isolated pockets of fat while tightening the skin. Patients considering SmartLipo should choose a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in this type of liposuction technique. An adequately skilled surgeon can decrease the potential side effects and risks. Furthermore, a patient can expect optimal results when they choose a plastic surgeon experienced in performing SmartLipo.

Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - SP

Based on an exclusive interview with Dr. Arnold Breitbart in Manhasset, NY

Article Last Updated on July 27, 2018