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Medical Aesthetic Technology

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For any given aesthetic concern, there are both surgical and non-surgical enhancements, which are available. Cosmetic minimally invasive procedures have gained tremendous popularity in the United States with a 53 percent increase between 2002 and 2004 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The desire to maintain a youthful appearance by any means of cosmetic treatment has proven the aesthetic industry to be one of the most profitable. In 2004 alone, Americans spent just under $12.5 billion on cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).

There are many treatment options available which are less invasive than surgery, but more invasive than typical medical spa treatments: filler injections for facial wrinkles and lines, collagen injections for lip enhancement and softening of deep facial folds and creases, laser treatment of facial veins and rosacea, and non-invasive laser collagen remodeling for permanent improvement of fine wrinkles and increasing skin tone. Non-surgical cosmetic procedures have become exceedingly common and widespread with a 764 percent increase between 1997 and 2004 (ASAPS).
This explosion in medical aesthetic technology has resulted in a market that is literally flooded with new products, devices, and procedures all claiming to be the ‘latest and greatest’ or the ‘next big thing’. A great deal of dedication (and caution!) is required to sort through all of the new (and often not-so-new) technology that is marketed simultaneously to aesthetic professionals and to the public.
With such a wide range of options, medical spas need to research devices and manufacturers extensively and ask themselves these questions: Is there sufficient scientific evidence and clinical research to prove safety and efficacy? Is a device able to provide results without down time? Can a device perform procedures quickly to maximize profits?Until you are satisfied with all of the answers, don’t invest in new technology.

Medical Aesthetic Devices for Skin Rejuvenation
Aging and sun-damaged skin is a major concern and treatment modalities used to address these issues have come a long way. Whereas, most treatments early on caused significant downtime such as dermabrasion, deep chemical peels, and resurfacing lasers, there is now advanced technology that can provide the same results without unnecessary discomfort and side effects including microdermabrasion, superficial chemical peels, light therapies, and nonablative lasers. When addressing the superficial layers of the skin, microdermabrasion and chemical peels appear to be the most effective. In 2004, chemical peels were ranked third in the top five non-surgical procedures performed, with microdermabrasion following close at fourth (ASAPS). A basic and common course of treatment for aging skin and sun damage is a series of microdermabrasion and/or chemical peels. These help to improve uneven skin texture, fine lines, and skin discoloration. Each treatment takes approximately half an hour allowing a client to return back to work immediately. Microdermabrasion machines and most chemical peels are rather inexpensive in comparison to other equipment, which lowers the spa’s cost per treatment while still generating a steady source of revenue.
Other modalities for treating aging skin, such as, nonablative lasers have also become a preferred choice of treatment. When addressing the deeper layers of the skin to help tighten and tone, light therapy such as photomodulation and nonablative lasers will offer the most impressive results.
Some lasers will target the dermal layers to stimulate collagen production and often can treat more than one skin issue. These lasers bypass the epidermal layers to target deep tissues allowing for a safe, comfortable, yet effective, treatment without downtime. The same laser that treats rosacea and telangectasias, a major source of embarrassment for some clients, can also effectively firm the skin and improve elasticity. This particular laser targets the oxyhemoglobin to address vascular issues, while the heat from the thermal energy helps to stimulate collagen production. Treatments can be performed in 15 minutes or less, provides fast results, and causes no downtime. These laser treatments complement microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and LED treatments to enhance results. Furthermore, these procedures serve as an excellent adjunct to facial plastic surgery.
Light therapies also help to stimulate collagen production but, unlike the lasers, they are non-thermal. This device breaks the code of LED photomodulation technology. The machine uses over two thousand gentle light emitting diodes to target the dermal layers of the skin in order to stimulate collagen production with absolutely no discomfort or downtime. This technology is not only fast, it is also affordable and cost-effective. LED photomodulation takes just a few minutes and provides a gradual yet obvious improvement for aging and sun damaged skin. It takes up very little space in the facility and can be operated by anyone on the staff without requiring training. The treatment is generally done on the face, neck, chest and hands and is safe and effective for all skin types. Results are even more evident when used after a microdermabrasion or chemical peel.

Another issue that many female clients struggle with is cellulite. Cellulite is caused by fat cells found in the subcutaneous fat layer that multiply in size, stick together, and rest in the pockets between fibrous tissues. Although exercise, diet and liposuction can remove excessive fat, none will address cellulite. Endermology is the only modality that is FDA approved to reduce cellulite. From 2003 to 2004 there was a 193 percent increase in the number of endermology treatments performed, and it continues to gain in popularity (ASAPS). Endermology uses gentle suction and vibration to mobilize connective tissues and increase circulation in order to help flush out the stagnant fluid and fat that initially caused the dimpled appearance. The treatment can be compared to a stimulating massage and is performed in 45 minutes or less. For best results, treatments should be performed in a series and done weekly. Although results have only proved to be temporary, endermology has become a preferred method for cellulite reduction as its effectiveness far exceeds other methods of treatments, such as, exercise and topical creams.
Technology in the aesthetic industry continues to advance, and as new modalities become available it is crucial to decide what will or will not be the most advantageous to the practice. Medical spas must research all technology and products for clients and patients before deciding what to bring into the practice. Why we use certain technology is equally as important as why we don’t use others. Ultimately, clients will decide what is best for them, but it is the unique responsibility of the practice to educate them with the proper knowledge and to deliver the results they are want.

Kile Law and her husband, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Law are owners of Blue Water Spa located in Raleigh, N.C. In 2006, Kile will begin providing training to physicians and others interested in running successful medical spas. Lisa Chrysanthou is a medical aesthetician and the director of Blue Water Spa. For more information on Blue Water Spa please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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