Liposuction technology has been evolving for decades. One of the most important developments in liposuction was the tumescent technique, popularized by Jeffrey Klein in 1987. The tumescent technique involves the use of large volumes of dilute lidocaine and epinephrine so that complete local anesthesia is obtained and blood loss is virtually nil. The excellent local anesthesia and minimal blood loss allow liposuction to be done entirely without sedation or general anesthesia. After the tumescent anesthesia is infused, the excess fat needs to be suctioned out using different cannulas attached to a suction device.
In traditional liposuction, the surgeon manually passes the cannula back and forth through the tissue, removing small amounts of fat with each pass. As the case proceeds, especially in larger volume liposuction, it can get quite tiring. Also, the physical force required is invariably associated with trauma to the surrounding connective tissues and blood vessels. In vibrational liposuction, such as Tickle Lipo, the cannula is instead attached to a handpiece that gives it side to side, back and forth and rotational movements. This creates a vortex-like force at the end of the cannula that helps to break up fat with minimal muscle force applied by the surgeon. Rather than relying on jerky back and forth movements, the surgeon is able to glide the cannula through the fat with ease. This allows a more artistic approach to sculpting the fat. Less trauma to the surrounding blood vessels means less blood less and less bruising. As bruising can persist for a couple of weeks after surgery, this is very useful. Less damage to supporting ligaments means that better skin tightening is achievable.
There are also some advantages over ultrasound-assisted liposuction and laser lipolysis. Ultrasonic liposuction involves using a solid ultrasonic cannula that first breaks up fat and a second step to remove the fat with a suction cannula. Laser lipolysis is similar, except that laser energy is used to melt the fat prior to removal. With both of these technologies, there is a chance of burns, but that is not the only disadvantage. In the opinion of the author, both require the surgeon to work blindly as they break up fat. Rather than seeing the final look evolve as more and more fat is suctioned away, as with traditional or vibrational liposuction, with these latter two technologies, the final product only begins to be seen after the ultrasonic or the laser portion is over. Although in use in 1993 in Europe, Tickle Lipo vibrational liposuction was only recently FDA-approved in the US. However, it is this author’s opinion that given the multiple advantages over existing liposuction technology, even laser and ultrasound, it is bound to receive a greater and greater share of the liposuction market.