How Does SmartLipo Work?

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Areas of fat that you may have around your body are full of fat cells called adipose cells or fat cells. These cells are specialised cells and fill with fat termed lipid. Fat cells are very useful, they act as an energy store, a cushion of protection around internal organs and furthermore the lipid from fat cells can be metabolised to form other important molecules like hormones. When too many lipids are generated (i.e. from over intake in the diet) firstly the existing fat cells increase their capacity of lipid becoming swollen full of lipid (hypertrophy) instead of having a minimal amount of lipid stored. Secondly after hypertrophy occurs, increases in the number of newly formed fat cells occurs (hyperplasia). These events are reflected by an increase in the size in the areas of your body that contain fat. In summary this SmartLipo laser lipolysis procedure reduces the size and numbers of fats cells, giving you the appearance of loss of fat on your body area that has been treated.

During SmartLipo the laser that is essentially a beam of light at a specific wavelength is directed at the fat cells. The heat from the laser causes the fat cells to burst and release the lipid in the form of a liquid. The fat cells cannot repair once ruptured and only small pieces of the cell remain called cellular debris. Suction removal of the lipid and cell debris is not required because the liquefied fat drains into the space between cells and is then sent back into circulation via the lymph system. The cell debris is removed by neighbouring cells or specialised cells of your immune system called phagocytes.

Another benefit of SmartLipo is that the heat from the laser has been reported to produce not only the removal of fat but also skin tightening. Collagen is one of the proteins responsible for keeping skin tight and allowing elasticity, preventing sagging. It is secreted by specialised cells called fibroblasts. SmartLipo has been reported to increase skin tightening by increasing the numbers of fibroblasts producing collagen, overall stimulating collagen production. A trial conducted using temporary tattoos placed on the skin to visually monitor changes in skin tightness showed an 18% reduction in size after SmartLipo, indicating the degree of tightening after SmartLipo was increased. It has also been reported to improve the appearance of cellulite in some cases.

Why does SmartLipo only work on fat cells?

It is the wavelength of the laser that makes SmartLipo specific for fat cells and certain other cell types. The laser wavelength also determines how far it penetrates through the tissues, i.e. how powerful it is. Even with highest power laser tested at 2100nm wavelength only penetrated 4-5 mm (1/2 cm) outside the intended area of treatment unintentionally, therefore the procedure is also very specific. When used under the skin (subcutaneously), the laser acts on fat cells and the fibrous tissue (termed fibrous septae) that links the skin with the fascia (the collagen containing covering of the tissue underneath skin). The fascia provides support to the tissue and also structure so that tissues are maintained in their correct place. It also allows movement of the two tissues over one another.

The laser effect is selective only to certain tissues or cells during treatment due the biological property of the cell types. The biological properties of the cells are specific because cells of a specific type are specialised to form the same function and have special features to allow that function i.e. fat cells are filled with lipid whereas other cells may be filled with protein. The contents and other properties of specific cell types mean that they react differently to the effect of the laser.

The laser of wavelength 1064 nm is specific for acting on fat cells and cells of the blood vessels. This latter effect also helps to reduce bleeding by sealing the blood vessels during the procedure. The 1320 nm wavelength laser targets adipocytes (fat cells) only, however skin tightening may also occur. At higher laser wavelengths such as 1440 nm fat cells are maximally disrupted yet no effects on blood vessels or skin tightening is mentioned according to the manufacturers.

The wavelength of the laser may be single or there may be a dual function where different wavelengths can be selected according to the machine used. A blend of different wavelengths may also be used during SmartLipo as required. There are 4 reported machine brands produced for SmartLipo that operate at wavelength 1064 nm. These machines are called SmartLipo Cynosure; SmartLipo MPX Cynosure; SmartLipo Triplex Cynosure; Prolipo Sciton and Lipolite syneron. There is also a Cool lipo cool touch system that operates at a higher wavelength of light, 1320 nm. There are also two types of laser used in SmartLipo systems either the Ng: Yag type that has been used most during the clinical trials or the diode type. The brands mentioned above operating at the 1064 nm wavelength are all of the Ng: Yag type. The Ng: Yag type consists of a specific type of crystal used to generate the laser beam, termed a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet or Ng: Yag. Other devices in use don't use the same crystal compound to produce the laser beam. Instead these systems use diodes and these units are called Lipotherme Osyris; SlimLipo Palomar; SmoothLipo Eleme.

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