Evidence-Based Practice in Liposuction

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Abstract

Background

The goal of this study is to examine the existing peer reviewed literature comparing modern adjunctive techniques in liposuction including laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) and ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) to standard suction-assisted liposuction (SAL). We intend to interpret these findings into a literature-based clinical application to influence practice patterns.

Methods

A literature review was conducted using a keyword search in PubMed. Keyword search items included liposuction, lipoplasty, suction assisted liposuction, ultrasound assisted liposuction, laser assisted liposuction, tumescent, liposuction comparison, liposuction review, and combinations therein. Exclusion criteria included articles with a primary focus on histologic effects of energy devices, primary animal models, primary opinion papers with no reference to available data, and industry-sponsored publications. Inclusion criteria included articles with direct comparison of liposuction modalities, randomized or blinded studies, and studies with objective outcomes.

Results

Twenty-five articles that met the inclusion criteria comparing SAL to UAL or LAL out of 9972 articles identified were obtained. The selected literature was assigned into 3 categories: evidence demonstrating an advantage of 1 modality (SAL, UAL, or LAL) over another, evidence that showed no benefit of 1 modality over another, and evidence that demonstrated risks of complications of 1 modality over another.

Conclusions

The benefits of UAL and LAL over SAL include the following: (1) UAL over SAL in the treatment of gynecomastia, (2) LAL and UAL over SAL with decreased hemoglobin/hematocrit in high-volume lipoaspirates, and (3) LAL over SAL with skin tightening in select areas specifically the submental area. Otherwise, the literature demonstrates equivocal results among the described techniques with no clear benefit to set one apart from the other. There appears to be no demonstrable added benefit to the addition of either UAL or LAL that would urge a change in practice patterns outside the exceptions listed.

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