What is VASER liposuction?

Cosmetic surgeon Mr Jag Chana explains how VASER liposuction works, and discusses other important information about the procedure.

VASER is a relatively new type of liposuction that uses ultrasound energy to help to reduce fat, and refine and tone certain areas of your body.

What does VASER stand for?
‘VASER’ stands for Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance, as it uses ultrasound technology to break down fat cells.

This technique uses sound energy transmitted through small probes that liquefy fat. The fat is then removed using suction.

Who is suitable for VASER?
VASER is only suitable for those who are at their ideal weight but may have some stubborn areas of fat that can’t be removed no matter how much they exercise or diet.

VASER is not for the overweight or obese since it is not a weight loss measure.

Which areas of the body can be treated with the VASER liposuction?
VASER can be used in almost all the areas that can have traditional liposuction – including the backs of the arms, thighs, abdomen, buttocks and the neck/jawline. It is also particularly useful for defining the male chest or reducing male breast tissue (gynaecomastia).

Since it is less invasive and less traumatic than regular liposuction, delicate nerves and blood vessels undergo significantly less trauma, which means the procedure is more refined and has quicker recovery times.

How long does the procedure take?
This all depends on the amount of fat that is targeted with VASER.

It can take anything from 20 minutes to two hours, but a consultation with your plastic surgeon will help you to understand how much time the surgery will take and how long you would need to stay in hospital. Usually it is a day case procedure.

Who can carry out VASER liposuction?
I was one of the first BAAPS-accredited plastic surgeons to introduce this technique to the UK in 2009 at Spire Bushey Hospital. The technique involves some differences compared to standard liposuction and therefore considerable experience is needed to use this technique.

The procedure should therefore be offered only by fully qualified plastic surgeons that have already had previous experience of traditional liposuction.

Patients should be wary of any clinic that advertises VASER as being non-invasive as it is a procedure that requires a surgeon; and you should always check that your surgeon is a fully qualified plastic surgeon and accredited with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

Are the effects of VASER liposuction permanent?
You will notice an immediate change after surgery. There may be some swelling so you might have to wait for up to a week for that to go down first before you can see major changes.

It could take three to six months for you to notice the full results of VASER. After this period the result should be permanent provided that you keep to the normal weight, diet and exercise.

Is there scientific evidence to show that VASER has superior results when compared to standard liposuction?
There is evidence to demonstrate that VASER has advantages when compared to standard liposuction.

A study has shown that VASER liposuction patients lost a quarter less blood during surgery when compared to those that had the standard liposuction procedure. Patients also saw an over 50% improvement in skin retraction. (Source is "A Multi-Center, Prospective, Randomized, Single-Blind, Controlled Clinical Trial Comparing VASER-Assisted Lipoplasty and Suction-Assisted Lipoplasty" from Sound Surgical Technologies.)

What are the advantages of VASER compared to standard liposuction?
The procedure is tissue-selective, targeting the fat while protecting other tissues from damage. It’s powerful enough to eliminate substantial areas of fat but gentle enough to treat delicate areas such as the neck and arms.

The refinement of this technique allows the surgeon to carry out contouring, such as creating the abdominal ‘six-pack’. Such techniques are not normally possible with standard liposuction.

In conventional liposuction, fat is sheared off by the surgeon moving a cannula (a thin metal tube) back and forth under the skin and then sucking it out through the cannula. This action produces trauma to the tissues, which can lead to unevenness of fat removal and sometimes complications such as irregularities that can be seen on the surface of the skin. The conventional technique is also associated with longer recovery times and more pain.

Other advantages of VASER include better skin retraction and reduced bleeding and bruising.

Does it leave any scarring?
There will be tiny scars – about 4mm in length. These scars are scattered in various areas depending on where the fat is to be removed. For most people, this scar soon fades or becomes almost imperceptible with time.

What anaesthetic will be required?
For small areas the procedure can be carried out under local anaesthetic. However, for large areas sedation or a general anaesthetic will be needed.

Be wary of VASER being offered under local anaesthetic no matter how large the volume of fat that is being removed – the use of large doses of local anaesthetic can be toxic to the heart and more dangerous than a general anaesthetic.

How quickly can I recover from VASER liposuction?
For small areas, the recovery may only be a few days with a return to full activity and exercise after two weeks.

With large areas of fat removal, it is usually one to two weeks off work and a return to full activity and exercise after four to six weeks. A garment for compression is usually worn during the early recovery period. The best results are usually seen at three to six months.

What are the risks of VASER liposuction?
The risks of VASER are similar to standard liposuction. The main risks include irregularities, loose skin and asymmetry; but in a properly examined and consulted patient these risks are much reduced with VASER liposuction.

Mr Jag Chana is a consultant plastic surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital in Hertfordshire.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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Mr Jag Chana

Mr Jag Chana, cosmetic surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital

Mr Jag Chana is a consultant plastic surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital in Hertfordshire.

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Summary of the benefits of VASER

- A surgical procedure with little recovery time

- Smoothing the contours of the body by heating the fatty tissue layer

- Visible, measurable and lasting results

- Improved body contouring over traditional liposuction

- Easily removes large amounts of stored fat

- Smooths skin even in delicate areas like the arms and neck

- Refines and accentuates the appearance of muscles

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