Liposuction is second only to breast augmentation as the most commonly performed cosmetic procedure in the USA. Liposuction removes fat through very small skin incisions, with atraumatic, blunt-tipped cannulas. Simplicity, quality of results and relatively rare complications are but a few benefits that explain its success. Its main limitation is the minimal skin retraction achieved after the procedure. Laser lipolysis is based on a thermal effect. The laser can vaporize, melt tissues and coagulate blood vessels. More importantly, the laser stimulates the formation of collagen in the region, enhancing skin elasticity and promoting skin contraction in the treated areas. This review aims to describe traditional liposuction and laser lipolysis, and discusses the difference between the two techniques.