Tickle Lipo or Nutational Infrasonic Liposculpture (NIL) is a form of tumescent liposuction that uses a vibrating and rotating cannula (hollow metal tube) to disrupt fat cells. The term “nutational” refers to the wobble of an object as it rotates on its axis. Think of a child’s toy top that is spinning perfectly and then begins to angle outward and back and forth as it spins. This is nutational movement.
The purpose of having a cannula that vibrates and rotates in this way is to reduce the amount of manual movement required by the plastic surgeon operating the device. A surgeon may perform many hours of liposuction in a single day when they have a full schedule of patients. Having a tool that makes liposuction faster and less strenuous is obviously desirable. The surgeon may effectively treat more patients while each patient may enjoy a shorter procedure.
Advertised Benefits of Tickle Lipo with NIL
The tiny rotating and vibrating motion of the cannula serves as an alternative to laser energy that may cause burns to the skin and underlying tissues during laser-assisted liposuction. The cannula is activated with air pressure and does not heat up the tissues but mechanically disrupts them instead.
The equipment has a safety mechanism that stops the cannula’s vibrational movement when the tube encounters non-fatty tissue. This may allow a skilled surgeon to perform liposuction on fibrous or delicate areas such as knees or buttocks with fewer risks. Revision liposuction for patients who had uneven results with their original procedure might be another area where a more precise liposuction treatment would be beneficial.
If the surgeon can rely on the movement of the cannula itself to help break free the fat cells from the surrounding tissue, the procedure can potentially be more gentle. This may make the treatment both more accurate and less traumatic to the tissue. A lower level of trauma means less post-operative discomfort, swelling and bruising. Patients may feel better and see results sooner.
Exploring Additional Claims for Tickle Lipo
More research is needed to explore the full potential of NIL compared to traditional, ultrasound, laser-assisted and other liposuction techniques. However, the company that produces this equipment is excited about the scientific advances that may make this technology a preferred option.
The frequency of infrasonic vibration chosen for the Tickle Lipo equipment is designed to stimulate the nerves in a way that reduces pain. The working theory is that sensory stimulation with vibration effectively occupies non-pain sensing nerve pathways leading to the brain and shuts off access to the nerve pathways that deliver pain signals. The manufacturers of the Tickle Lipo equipment claim this vibration makes the introduction of the tumescing solution less painful and allows the procedure to be performed using local anesthetic and IV sedation. However, local anesthetic and IV sedation are commonly used with many liposuction techniques.
Cell-Rich Fat Transfer
Surgeons sometimes perform fat grafting with fat and adult stem cells (adipose derived regenerative cells or ARDCs) harvested using the Tickle Lipo technique. Popular areas for such fat transfer include the breast, buttocks, face and hands. Some patients may even choose to store their harvested fat in a human tissue bank for use in future procedures. Clinical trial data for a small study involving 12 patients showed higher levels of one type of stem cell for NIL compared to SAL (suction-assisted lipo). However, the other type of stem cell tracked was found in higher concentrations in the SAL samples. The percentage of viable cells with nuclei intact was slightly higher for the NIL samples. Higher levels of adult stem cells and undamaged fat cells are linked to more successful fat transfer procedures.
More clinical studies and research will be needed to understand the significance of these findings. Patients should remember that choosing a skilled liposuction surgeon is the most important strategy for ensuring an optimal outcome. Asking how long the surgeon has used a specific technology and how it compares to other equipment they have tried is a good idea.