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Laser Liposuction Melts Fat, Tightens Skin

What could be better than liposuction, a procedure that rids people of excess fat?

How about laser liposuction that, proponents say, not only zaps fat, but eliminates sagging skin at the same time?

The latest installment of The Early Show's ongoing series, "Weapons of Mass Reduction" Thursday involved a doctor who performs laser liposuction and one of her patients.

It happens to almost everyone. As you age, you may get a little jowly, or gain weight in places where you never had excess pounds, and your skin may begin to sag.

But laser liposuction may help you look a lot slimmer -- and younger and firmer.

Dr. Cheryl Karcher, a new York cosmetic dermatologist, says laser liposuction can, for instance, help women who've developed double chins and been told the only solution was a facelift.

Women such as Debbie Seaman, a 54-year-old who freely admitted having "a bit of a problem with a double chin, or flesh that goes down below my jaw line. ... This is something that's been bothering me for a long time. Especially since I hit the big five-oh. I want to look younger; who doesn't?"

But sagging facial skin is among the targets of laser liposuction.

"This new technology," Karcher explained, "is a laser. It's a very fine laser fiber, and we place it very gently into the fat, and we slowly and methodically melt the fat.

"The good part about this technology is that there's much less bruising, there's minimal scarring, and obviously minimal downtime. ... It also differs from traditional liposuction in that it tightens the skin. It doesn't just take out the fat, but it tightens the skin."

The procedure itself takes, on average, between 30 minutes and an hour, Karcher explains. It's so minimally invasive that a patient only has to be mildly sedated.

When the fat is melted, it can either be absorbed by the body or sucked out but, once an area is treated with the laser, fat will supposedly never come back. "The fat will be gone, and the skin will be tightened for the rest of her life," Karcher observes.

Two weeks after her surgery, the Seaman's before-and-after appearances were striking.

"You couldn't diet this off, you could starve yourself and it still wouldn't go down. You can't exercise it off. It's genetic. ... Now, we can melt the fat and let the body take care of it," Karcher told Seaman.

"You have a whole new jaw line," Karcher exclaimed to her. "I'm so happy for you!"

The cost of laser liposuction starts at around $2,000, and although it's not recommended for getting rid of fat in large areas such as the thighs or legs, it can be performed on smaller areas such as the arms, in addition to the face and neck.