Smart Lipo for Dummies, November 3, 2008's Beauty Counter Blog asks Dr. Copeland about smart lipo

If someone told you that you could get liposuction for a fraction of the cost, with little to no downtime and no risk of side effects, it’s likely that you’d probably consider it, all “I love myself just the way I am” sentiments aside—at least we would. This is the buzz in certain circles right now, as the gospel of “Smart Lipo” continues to spread. A relatively new procedure (it came out close to a year and a half ago and is only now starting to garner any kind of mainstream favor), Smart Lipo consists of a laser fiber inserted into a small tube, about 1 mm to 2 mm in diameter, which is intended to “zap” fat cells through a very small opening in the skin’s surface, causing them to rupture and be easily drained away. The relatively minor incision and the thermal energy of the laser—which causes blood cells to readhere to one another almost immediately, resulting in less bleeding, less bruising, and generally reduced recovery time—means the procedure is being touted as the next big thing to combat body image issues.

But can it be as revolutionary as suddenly skinny folks are making it out to be? “There is definitely some hype and some misconceptions of what it can and cannot do,” says New York-based plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Copeland. “Because it’s only a small beam of light, it’s really only good for small areas; it’s not a stand-alone for any kind of volume of fat removal.” Copeland, who is an assistant professor of clinical surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the author of two best-selling books, is a genuine fan of the procedure, however. “It gives me the capability of maneuvering with finer tools—to create more contouring in smaller areas, like ankles and calves,” she explains, adding that Smart Lipo is great in tandem with other forms of surgery. But it’s no less expensive, she confirms, pointing out that the equipment costs more than $100,000 in comparison to the more traditional apparatuses, which ring in closer to $5,000. “Each area you target is still going to cost between $3,000 and $7,000,” she says. Those of you who were ready to embrace plastic surgery like a true Brazilian, don’t be disheartened. Copeland is positive that laser technology will lead to “a new age of lipo” where body contouring will be both safer and more affordable for the masses. Until then, lay off the Frappuccinos.