Fat liquefaction: effect of low-level laser energy on adipose tissue

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Sep 1;110(3):912-22; discussion 923-5. doi: 10.1097/00006534-200209010-00030.


Low-level laser energy has been increasingly used in the treatment of a broad range of conditions and has improved wound healing, reduced edema, and relieved pain of various etiologies. This study examined whether 635-nm low-level lasers had an effect on adipose tissue in vivo and the procedural implementation of lipoplasty/liposuction techniques. The experiment investigated the effect of 635-nm, 10-mW diode laser radiation with exclusive energy dispersing optics. Total energy values of 1.2 J/cm(2), 2.4 J/cm(2), and 3.6 J/cm(2) were applied on human adipose tissue taken from lipectomy samples of 12 healthy women. The tissue samples were irradiated for 0, 2, 4, and 6 minutes with and without tumescent solution and were studied using the protocols of transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Nonirradiated tissue samples were taken for reference. More than 180 images were recorded and professionally evaluated. All microscopic results showed that without laser exposure the normal adipose tissue appeared as a grape-shaped node. After 4 minutes of laser exposure, 80 percent of the fat was released from the adipose cells; at 6 minutes of laser exposure, 99 percent of the fat was released from the adipocyte. The released fat was collected in the interstitial space. Transmission electron microscopic images of the adipose tissue taken at x60,000 showed a transitory pore and complete deflation of the adipocytes. The low-level laser energy affected the adipose cell by causing a transitory pore in the cell membrane to open, which permitted the fat content to go from inside to outside the cell. The cells in the interstitial space and the capillaries remained intact. Low-level laser-assisted lipoplasty has a significant impact on the procedural implementation of lipoplasty techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / radiation effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / ultrastructure
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Time Factors