Dr. Aaron Rollins still vividly recalls the day about 11 years ago when he performed his first liposuction on a patient as a plastic surgery resident.
It wasn’t the greatest experience.
“I thought it was the most barbaric thing I’ve ever seen – like who would ever do this?” said the 38-year-old Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. “It’s kind of ironic now.”
Rollins eventually got over his distaste, particularly once he saw the potential to employ lipo to resculpt the body. Now, he has invented a less-invasive take on the popular aesthetic procedure.
Compared with traditional liposuction, which requires anesthesia, invasive incisions and relatively fat vacuum tubes, Rollins’ approach is gentler. Marketed with the slogan “No Needle, No Scalpel, No Stitches, No General Anesthesia,” it still requires inserting a suction tube into the body, but the tube is smaller, leaving a hole the size of a pencil eraser.
Rollins invented the devices he uses, and federal regulatory approval was given to the company that makes some of them in February. That prompted the surgeon, who had worked for other practices for most of his career, to form his own company, Elite Body Sculpture Inc., and open an office in Beverly Hills. He added a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office in May, is set to open soon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and a fourth location will soon be announced.
The website of his multiphysician company includes such whimsically named procedures as the “48 Hour Six Pack” and the “Brazilian Butt Lift.” The latter reuses a woman’s own fat from a less desirable area to plump up the derriere.
“I like art, and body sculpture is the most artistic surgery there is,” said Rollins, who calls his method Laser Nil, short for nutational liposculpture. “I get to create a new physique.”
Liposuction has traditionally involved inserting a grooved tube into the belly or other fatty portion of a patient and wiggling it around to loosen the fat. The fat is then suctioned out using an attached vacuum-like aspirator.
Up until the late 1990s, a surgeon typically loosened the fat by pushing and pulling the suction tube – called a cannula – back and forth to break up the fat cells before suctioning them out. Old-style tubes – which Rollins likens to a “cheese grater” – were a lot wider and significantly less discerning about what might get shredded along with the fat. It was no wonder, he said, that the procedure would result in bleeding and bruising that could take several weeks to fully heal.
Today, most cosmetic surgeons use laser, ultrasound or some other preparatory chilling or heating process to break up fat cells, thus causing less trauma during the removal.
Rollins uses a specially calibrated laser to soften fat in the target area. A jet injector – originally developed to quickly give soldiers vaccinations – numbs the skin with local anesthesia without using a needle. The super-thin “golden cannula” he invented is attached to a device that vibrates very fast with a corkscrew-like motion. He said the process is gentler on the body and less likely to damage non-fatty tissue than traditional suction tubes.
Even so, patients still may need to wear a compression garment or girdle around the treated area for a few days.
Rollins’ practice typically charges $1,000 to $2,000 for a body part, depending on the amount of fat that needs to be removed and the complexity of the case. He says he can sculpt up to five areas at a time, but typically does three to four. A more complex case can involve more than one visit.
“All surgery these days – from heart surgery to lipo – is moving toward the less invasive, and I think that’s especially important for an elective procedure like this,” he said. “Lipo ought to feel more like a spa treatment.”
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