SAFELipo Liposuction – taking the dip
SAFELipo Liposuction is a term coined by Dr. Simeon Wall Jr. of Shreveport, LA. I attended one of his presentations about SAFE liposuction and its use in revision liposuctions years ago at the Amelia Island Body Contouring Workshop. At that time I was still pursuing an academic career. My own talk at that meeting was about abdominal wall reconstruction and my general interest in liposuction at that time was very casual to say the least. I looked at it more as an occasional necessity to contour a breast reconstruction or to gain some fat for transplantation. Several years and hundreds of liposuction and body contouring procedures later, liposculpture, lipoplasty and liposuction play an ever more important role in our Caribbean plastic surgery clinic at Trinidad Institute of Plastic Surgery.
I have a natural appetite for perfection and ever better results. Having tried many gadgets on the market in the course of the ongoing quest for improved results from ultrasound assisted liposuction to laser liposuction (which we still use sparingly) and waterjets I have arrived at the same conclusion as most plastic surgeons – these technologies are only marketing tools without any impact on the quality of results but a significant potential for difficult to treat complications. It is the surgeon’s technique and artistry with the cannulas, the mind and hands sculpting the fat, and not a machine, which determine the results.
Technological paraphernalia in liposculpture and body contouring are just a hindrance cluttering the operating room. The only exception I make to this statement is for PAL – power assisted liposuction. Per se it does not improve results, one can get the same results with traditional liposculpture, but it speeds up the whole liposuction process by approximately 40% and takes a lot of the physical strain off the surgeon. Anecdotally I would say that use of PAL also decreases discomfort, bruising and pain (for the patient, but for the surgeon as well!) after the procedure, likely because of the reduced trauma (faster procedure, fewer cannula passes etc.).
SAFELipo liposuction is a surgical technique with a growing reputation to deliver what clients are looking for at our Caribbean plastic surgery clinic at Trinidad Institute of Plastic Surgery – better appearance, smoother contours. From my recollections of the presentation in Amelia Island years ago I bought the special cannulas required for the SAFELipo liposuctionprocedure fitting the PAL equipment we use at Trinidad Institute of Plastic Surgery. I started to do what I remembered from years ago – a pretunneling / fat separation step, an aspiration phase and a feathering/equalization step – and was nothing short of amazed. Fibrous male chest walls (ordinarily a real pain to work on) – smooth and nice, the area around and below the belly button and its transition into the waist line (the Achilles heel of many liposuction procedures) – much improved; revision liposuctions (results are often so marginal that I asked myself more than once why do them at all) – finally some visible changes for the better; I could focus more on the artistry and actual sculpting than struggling with my “material” fat. Thus it was really time for the philosopher to pay a visit to the mountain.
So I had my office arrange a visit with Dr. Wall and made an enjoyable trip to Shreveport to spend some time in the operating room with the originator of the SAFELipo liposuction technique. It was plastic surgery for purists – no secret ingredient, no magic wand but classic, classy and elegant – a biomechanically well thought out technique which has been withstanding a ten year stress test. After such visits people usually like to say they learnt a lot. Best visits for me are when I learn very little – most things that truly work in plastic surgery have very few moving parts and rely on a relatively small number of mechanical and anatomic principles. From true masters one learns very little, but everything one needs to know. Like Dr. Wall masters have technique already stripped down to its true nature, which is always pure and of elegant simplicity. Once explained all one has to admit is the technique’s self evidence aka “Why on earth did I not think of that !”. So that’s my take on a successful visit.
What now is SAFE Liposuction ?
SAFE is an acronym for the three steps of the sculpting process – separation, aspiration, fat equalization. The first step separates the fat from connective tissues and particularly blood vessels and nerves while avoiding much of the trauma to the latter normally caused by laser, ultrasound and negative pressure. Atraumatic cannulas are used next to aspirate the fat which was separated from its surroundings in the first step. The fat equalization step then creates a uniform thickness of the fat left behind and also some separated fat which is not removed by aspiration but acts like a sheet of fat graft designed to prevent scar adhesions, dimpling and surface irregularities.
What can SAFELipo Liposuction do for you ?
“The SAFELipo technique allows for safe, consistent liposuction that does not damage flap blood supply. … This technique generates tremendous skin retraction while minimizing the risk of uneven scar adhesions and resultant irregular skin contour”(Wall, S. Jr. SAFE Circumferential Liposuction with Abdominoplasty. Clin Plast Surg 37 (2010) 485-501).
Better results, improved appearance, fewer risks despite more complete and more aggressive liposuction. The results are more natural as the SAFELipo technique renders etching, highlighting etc. (which often look artificial) unnecessary.
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