RADIO FREQUENCY ASSISTED LIPOSCULPTURE (RFAL): BODYTITE
Radio Frequency Assisted Liposculpture (RFAL), or BodyTite, is a recent and sophisticated technique of surgical body contouring that uses RF energy to liquefy unwanted fat before it is removed by vacuum suction. The unique feature of this technology is that the RF energy also produces a powerful skin tightening effect. When used to treat the entire trunk (abdomen, waist, lower back and hips), a significant “shrink wrapping” effect results, thus producing dramatic slimming and contouring effects. Its skin tightening effect is so powerful that patients who are borderline candidates for a tummy tuck due to post pregnancy loose abdominal skin can avoid undergoing a tummy tuck (and hence the long scar associated with this procedure) and instead achieve equally good results with the RFAL/BodyTite procedure, without the long scar of a tummy tuck.
In addition, high definition contouring is possible with BodyTite, so that tube packs can be created in females and six packs in males.
Dr Huang has more than twenty years of experience with liposuction and ten years of experience with RFAL, so you can rest assured that you will be in the hands of an experienced user of this technique.
A few small incisions (less than one cm each) are made in strategic locations to minimize visibility of the scars. The areas to be addressed are first infiltrated with a saline solution containing long acting local anesthetic and adrenaline. The fluid causes the area to become swollen (tumescent), causing physical expansion and loosening of the fat and constriction of blood vessels by pressure. The tumescent effect thus facilitates fat removal and reduces bleeding. The local anesthetic ensures that after the surgery pain is well controlled. The adrenaline further reduces bleeding by causing blood vessels to go into spasm.
Next, an RF electrode that doubles up as a suction tube (cannula) is inserted into the fat through the same incisions and moved back and forth in a fan shaped pattern while the RF energy is delivered and the liquefied fat removed. After this, more fat is extracted using a conventional suction cannula to complete the fat removal process.
One aspect of the BodyTite procedure that is different from Vaser Liposelection is that the treated tissues tend to secrete more watery serum after the surgery, causing more fluid to be produced during recovery. Therefore, it is usually necessary to insert a surgical drain into the wound at the end of the operation before closing it, so that this fluid can drain out and will not accumulate in the treated areas. Although this causes some inconvenience, the benefits of using the drain are that swelling is much less, recovery is faster, and results are optimized.
The wounds are closed with fine sutures after the insertion of the drain. The length of the procedure depends on how many areas are operated on and the amount of fat removed. It can range from less than an hour for a single small area to many hours for large or multiple areas. Small areas can be carried out under local anesthesia or intravenous sedation, whereas large and multiple areas are usually addressed under general anesthesia. It is completed as a day surgery procedure when less than two liters of fat are removed in total. For larger amounts of fat removal, hospitalization is required.
Pain after surgery is mild and well controlled with oral pain medication. Moderate swelling and bruising are common side effects. The bruising usually takes two to three weeks to subside. If a drain has been used, as is usually the case, the swelling subsides much faster, and more often than half will have subsided by two weeks. The amount of drainage is carefully monitored on a daily basis and the drain is removed once the daily amount of drainage is low enough. Stitches are removed after one week. Downtime ranges from a few weeks to about one week, depending on the amount of work done.
Compression garments are worn over the treated body parts for a total of six weeks, initially all the time for the first two weeks, then about half the time for the next two weeks, followed by nightly for the last two weeks. Exercise can be resumed at one month after surgery. By three months, about ninety percent of the final result can usually be seen, with the final result being attained at about six months postoperatively.
The results are normally long lasting as long as body weight is maintained.
Risks associated with liposuction include blood loss, infection, uneven contours, and skin burns. Blood loss is carefully managed by technical measures that minimize bleeding during the procedure. If large volumes of fat are to be removed, a planned blood transfusion using the patient’s own blood previously donated to the blood bank specifically for this purpose is carried out. This is known as autologous blood transfusion, and the blood is transfused immediately after the surgery.
Another useful blood preservation technique that is used for large volume liposuction is hemodilution. In this technique, one or two units of blood are drawn out by the anesthetist at the start of the operation, and transfused back into the patient at the end of the surgery. These types of proactive management of blood loss ensure that the patient does not lose excessive amounts blood from the procedure, and maintains the safety of the procedure.
Infection is rare, and is prevented by attention to sterility during the procedure and prophylactic antibiotics.
The problem of uneven contours caused by uneven fat removal is minimized by the liquefying effect of the RF energy on the solid fat.
The RF energy of BodyTite translates into heat energy. This is what produces the skin tightening effect. However, excessive heat energy applied to the skin can cause burns. Therefore, several technical precautions are observed in using this technology that ensure that the risk of this complication is low.