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Liposuction refined

Article-Liposuction refined

Key iconKey Points

  • Liposuction takes significant effort from the surgeon and is also traumatic for the patient
  • One surgeon believes he has solved these problems with his twin-cannula design, which allows for faster, more effortless and less traumatic procedures with more precise fat removal

Always a tinkerer, Robert Louis Cucin, M.D., was kicked out of middle school for making a radio-controlled stink bomb. The plastic, reconstructive and general surgeon and clinical instructor at Cornell Medical School, Manhattan, says his father, an electrical engineer, asked only one question when the principal summoned him for his son's mischief.

"My father asked the principal if I had used the AM band or the FM band. When he was told that I had used the FM band (which was pretty swift on my part) he wasn't as angry," the surgeon recalls with a chuckle.

Dr. Cucin has since graduated with a medical degree from Cornell Medical College; a law degree from Fordham Law School, Manhattan; and an MBA from Columbia University, New York City. A quarter century into his practice as a plastic surgeon, this 60-year-old Mensa member is betting that his latest venture, BioSculpture Technology, is the answer to liposuction.

START WITH THE PROBLEM Dr. Cucin's inventor's wheels started turning in 1990, when after two liposuction procedures (about eight hours in the operating room), Dr. Cucin lost more weight than both of his patients. The rigor he used to rid his patients of their body fat left him tired, dehydrated and thinking that there must be a better way.

LIPO ÉLAN "I wanted to come up with a way to make liposuction simply more elegant, with a lot less risk and effort for the surgeon," Dr. Cucin says.

The problem, he says, is that surgeons who perform liposuction have to shove cannulas back and forth underneath the skin thousands of times during each liposuction procedure.

"Every time the doctor pushes it forward, he is bruising the tissue and possibly injuring blood vessels and causing bruising and swelling," Dr. Cucin explains.

"Most surgeons find liposuction physically demanding. Sustained exertion and physical fatigue may result in compromised results, and liposuction's strenuous nature induces a tremor, which can affect your scheduling."

What's worse, he says, is that liposuction is traumatic for patients. Liposuction patients are swollen and sore for weeks, post-operatively. Aesthetic outcomes may be less than optimal — characterized by an uneven, wavy and lumpy appearance. Larger-volume liposuction procedures pose the risk of significant blood loss for patients, and revisions and touch ups are common.

"Taking this as a basic scenario, you want to make things better," he says.

THE LIGHT BULB Dr. Cucin says that single-tube reciprocation is not the whole answer. "The vibrating cannula moves through the tissue with a little less resistance, but you really have not saved the doctor the effort or the patient the trauma of those thousands of to-and-fro motions.

The only thing that really can change that is when you can move it back and forth two inches — similar to a normal surgeon's stroke. And the only way you can do that safely is to ensheath the tube [a tube within a tube] that is moving," he says.

Dr. Cucin explains that he believes he has solved the problem by creating exactly that: a twin-cannula design, which allows for faster, more effortless and less traumatic procedures with more precise fat removal.

"Every time it moves forward, it is not shoving into the patient; you are merely positioning the outer tube where you want to remove the fat," Dr. Cucin says.

Using his technology, surgeons save themselves and their patients thousands of these back and forth blows. "Here, you have a machine," he says. "You put it where you want it and are really just concentrating on sculpting as if you were using an electric sander, unleashing the artist in the surgeon."

TO MARKET, TO MARKET BioSculpture Technology, which started as a way to make his own liposuction practice easier and to improve results, has blossomed into a commercial venture.

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