Health Team

New version of liposuction gaining popularity

Posted May 17, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2010 7:13 p.m. EDT

— A flat tummy is most every woman's dream, but there’s a lot you have to do to achieve it, beyond exercise and dieting. That's why a newer version of liposuction is so popular.

Two months ago, Liz Tivnan, 32, took a big step to solve a frustrating problem.

“I exercise and I just can't seem to lose my mid section,” she said.

Tivnan called it a “muffin top,” with her belly and sides poking out over the tops of her favorite pants. She chose plastic surgeon Dr. Cynthia Diehl to take out the fat with Smart Lipo.

Rather than the older form of liposuction, Smart Lipo only needs local anesthesia. Diehl guides a fiber optic laser through the unwanted fat cells.

“It destroys these cells and liquifies them,” Diehl said.

Two months later, Tivnan said she loves the results.

“No more muffin top when I put my pants on,” she said.

“You definitely have improvements here on the contours of the flanks,” Diehl said.

And the belly is flat, if not still a little bit loose.

"It's tightened up a little bit, but it's not unexpected that you would have some continued laxity,” Diehl said. “As the skin retracts and that scar tissue forms, we see our final changes.”

Those changes will take about four more months. Tivnan says the procedure itself was painless, and the recovery was about what she expected.

“I was in a little bit of pain, but I went home and played with my kids,” said Tivnan, who wore a compression garment for the first few weeks.

“It keeps constant compression in the directions that we want it to, so that helps get the swelling out more quickly and it sort of shows the skin where we want it to go,” Diehl said.

It's not an instant fix, and the best results still require commitment.

“Just keep doing your exercise and eating right. That's the most important thing,” Diehl said.

The procedure can cost between $2,000 and $7,000 and is considered elective, cosmetic surgery, so insurance typically does not cover it.