Liposuction vs Cryolipolysis (Fat Freeze): What's The Difference?

Amaris B.

Archive Date:

November 29, 2022

The success of liposuction and cryolipolysis (and others like them) can be simmered down to one thing - they fill a need by removing what's not needed. 

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Blog last updated on:

November 30, 2022

Liposuction is, without a doubt, synonymous with fat removal. For those who've enjoyed its success, it's more than just a procedure - it indeed was a life-changing event!

From its beginnings in the 1920s to its global rise in the 1980s and continuous popularity today, liposuction is not just a medical or procedural term; it has become a word that can be found in a general dictionary, rolling off tongues like a buzzword. The advancement of technology, particularly in medical aesthetics, has expanded its capabilities and has brought about other forms of fat removal, such as fat freezing.

Fat freezing, also known as Cryolipolysis and, as the name implies, freezes fat to "death" so that the body can get rid of it naturally over time.

The success of liposuction and cryolipolysis (and others like them) can be simmered down to one thing - they fill a need by removing what's not needed. 

Liposuction vs Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing) 

When liposuction appeared on the scene, it answered and fulfilled many hopes. Anyone constantly battling with the extra bulge and deemed suitable to undergo the procedure could look forward to a brand new physique, confidence and even life. Fast forward to years later, and the appearance of fat freezing extended that dream and aspiration to even more people, particularly those still apprehensive about liposuction and looking for a non-surgical option.

Both liposuction and fat freezing employed in terms of downtime and side effects are different. Knowing these differences enables a potential candidate to understand which is more appropriate to their needs and concerns.

What is Liposuction?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that in 2020 and in the US alone, some 210,000 liposuction procedures were performed. It's no wonder that today, the procedure still ranks among the top FIVE most popular cosmetic surgeries despite having been around for decades. 

In a nutshell, the procedure involves using a cannula, a long narrow suction tube. This is inserted into areas of the body where excess subcutaneous fat has been identified, and prior incisions have been made. The cannula suctions out the fat and removes it permanently. The procedure can be performed under general or local anaesthetic.  

Liposuction techniques

There are different types of liposuction techniques, and they are:

Tumescent liposuction 

It is the most common type of liposuction. A large amount of fluid mixture is injected into the identified areas before the fat is removed. Depending on the need, the amount injected may be up to THREE times more than the volume of fat to be removed. The mixture contains lidocaine (a local anaesthetic), epinephrine which contracts the blood vessels and an intravenous (IV) salt solution. 

Lidocaine, which may be the only anaesthesia needed, helps to numb the affected areas during and after surgery. The use of epinephrine is to help reduce loss of blood, bruising, and swelling. The IV solution makes fat removal easier and is suctioned with excess fat.

Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL)

Fat cells are liquified via laser energy and removed via suction. The cannulas used are smaller than traditional liposuction, so doctors prefer to employ this technique for confined areas, including the face, chin and jowls. The use of laser energy may help prevent skin sagging, which is the likely advantage of laser-assisted liposuction. 

VASER (Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance)

VASER Lipo involves using ultrasound wave energy to break up and liquefy fat cells, making them easier to extract. Using the VASER system, the doctor can reduce and remove fat, while stimulating collagen reproduction for better skin retraction. VASER Lipo also allows for easier and more precise removal of large and small fat deposits. An advantage of this technique is its body sculpting capabilities and visible results just after one session. 

Modern Liposuction with MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo technique

Dr Ivan Puah, a liposuction doctor in Singapore, developed this proprietary surgical approach and technique. It achieves the three main objectives of successful liposuction: fat removal, customised body contouring and skin tightening.

Modern Liposuction with MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo technique: A Proprietary novel liposuction technique for predictable results

The MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo (Multi-Dimensional Contouring) is a unique fat removal and body sculpting technique. It was developed by Dr Ivan Puah, Medical Director at Amaris B. Clinic, who has more than 15 years of experience performing liposuction, corrective liposuction, and gynecomastia surgery. Dr Puah believes body sculpting is 70 percent art and 30 percent science. This technique enables him to produce results not only in terms of fat removal but also in body contouring for truly satisfying overall results. 

The impetus behind the advent of this technique lies in Dr Puah's understanding of a patient's needs, which stems from his awareness that when it comes to the body and body fat - no two persons are alike. The MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo technique's ability to navigate different body shapes and contours is a welcomed relief from the challenge that doctors typically face in addressing issues such as knee fat, 'bra bulges' and armpit fat. It is also effective where high-definition sculpting is needed and in areas with the presence of mild to moderate loose skin. 

MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo not only delivers results, but it is also gentler and less traumatising, which means faster recovery, less bruising and discomfort for patients. 

What are the pros and cons of liposuction?

The many success stories of liposuction are adequate to stand testimony to its capabilities. Unwanted fat is removed immediately, with notable changes visibly. As the post-op tissue swelling gradually wears off, patients will start to appreciate the results and changes to the contour over the next three to six months.  

Notwithstanding, however, it is essential that the individual adopts and maintains a healthy lifestyle post-liposuction to ensure that the results last. Also, note that, as with any surgery, there are potential risks, including blood clotting, delayed healing, scarring, and other possible irregularities. Therefore, it is always essential to ensure that a doctor is qualified and experienced in performing liposuction.

What is Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)?

In cryolipolysis, fat is frozen, and the body will naturally remove it over a period of time. After advanced research by two Harvard University scientists, it was discovered that fat cells tend to freeze before outer skin tissues when subjected to extremely cool temperatures. The research centred around the effects of frostbite, where it was detected that fat cells can actually be broken up. This led to the invention of the cryolipolysis device in 2008.

What is the technology used for Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)?

Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing) doesn't involve surgery, distinguishing it from liposuction. Most patients can immediately resume their daily activities after the procedure, unlike an individual who has just undergone liposuction. 

What are the pros and cons of Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)?

Pros of Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)

The obvious and attractive advantage of cryolipolysis is that it is a non-invasive procedure. This allows a patient to resume their normal activities immediately and, even more so, makes it an ideal option for those who have reservations about liposuction. Still, discomfort, soreness and pain are expected, and its vacuum-like device may result in bruising and swelling to the treated areas.

Cons of Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)

Potential common side effects also include redness, muscle cramps, stinging sensation, tenderness and, in some cases, diarrhoea. Lesser common ones are dizziness, sweating, nausea, increased pain in the treated area and a condition known as Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH), where the treated area will have a bigger and firmer appearance akin to a stick of butter. Additionally, results are not immediate and may take up to THREE to FOUR months to show gradually.

Liposuction vs Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing): Which is better?

Convenience between Liposuction and Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)

Liposuction does involve some downtime in comparison to cryolipolysis. Although it must be noted that today's liposuction techniques have come a long way - it's safer, less intrusive and facilitates a quicker recovery. 

Liposuction is typically performed as day surgery under local anaesthesia, and the duration depends on the body areas that need to be addressed. It may take between TWO to THREE hours, but ONE session suffices. Cryolipolysis, on the other hand, takes about ONE hour, but multiple sessions spread out a couple of weeks in between are needed. In some cases, doctors may combine the treatment with weight loss medication and a diet program to achieve optimum results.

Liposuction, being more invasive in comparison, is also more suitable in situations where larger areas of fat need to be effectively removed. It is also able to shape the patient's contour. Cryolipolysis is much suited for smaller pockets of fat, such as the chin, arms, love handles, knees and others. It can treat up to 13 areas but cannot shape the patient's body contour.

Fat Loss Results between Liposuction and Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing)

Liposuction offers immediate results, while for cryolipolysis, the result may take a longer  time for it to be visible. The main reason for the latter's slower appearance is that the body takes time to naturally remove the broken-down fat cells. In liposuction, the fat is instantaneously removed via suction.

Despite its capability to work on multiple body parts, the amount of fat that can be removed via cryolipolysis is also limited to its applicator size. This is typically about 20 percent reduction, while a patient can experience up to 80 percent fat loss in liposuction.

It can be confusing for potential patients, but ultimately, it boils down to their needs. These include the areas to be treated, the amount of fat to be removed and other factors, including the ability of the body to handle the trauma associated with fat loss procedures. Having realistic expectations is also essential.

This is where a recognised, qualified and experienced doctor like Dr Ivan Puah is needed. They can advise and recommend the appropriate procedure, which delivers results and, more importantly, is safe for the patient.

Is Liposuction at Amaris B. Clinic Singapore worth it?

Wanting to proceed with a cosmetic procedure such as Modern Liposuction With MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo Technique is personal. It is a practical, permanent, and clinically proven solution to remove fat in bulk and achieve skin tightening, compared to non-surgical fat treatments such as Fat Freezing. Fat Freezing requires multiple sessions done over more extended periods. The applicator's size also limits the area that can be treated non-surgically.

If you have tried various methods of losing fat in a specific area but are not achieving the result that you yearn for, we recommend that you come for a consultation and assessment to understand whether or not you are suited to the procedure.

We welcome you to call us and schedule a consultation with Dr Ivan Puah to understand how we can help you achieve a more defined physique.

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