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Coming Attractions: New Cosmetic Technologies

By: Carol and Robert Trow
Posted: April 29, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Coming Attractions: New Cosmetic Technologies

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Removal of body fat. Some of the most emerging technologies are focusing on noninvasive ways to remove body fat. Leroy Young, MD, reported on new technologies at the American Society of Plastic Surgery 2010 Conference that focus on noninvasively separating fat from cells and turning that fat into liquid, which is then eliminated from the body.

At the same meeting, Laurence Bass, MD, highlighted research that indicates body fat is sensitive to cold as well as to heat, which will lead to the development of devices that lower the temperature of areas of unwanted fat. This modality is effective for smaller areas with fat deposits that are resistant to exercise or diet. Cryolipolysis—the application of cold to damage fat cells—is showing promise, but the results are quite modest, maybe a few inches here and there. For some, this is a viable option. Low-level lasers to remove fat have received media attention, but seem less promising.

Radio frequency (RF). Using a new generation of devices powered by RF energy, dermal heating can be induced to cause injury to the skin without disrupting the epidermis, in order to trigger the body’s own wound-healing cascade. Simply put, when you cause injury to the skin on the surface or at the dermal layer, the body responds by triggering a reaction that enhances the production of collagen and elastin. The use of RF is gaining traction and may take a more prominent place in skin rejuvenation modalities. The RF technology of just a few years ago has been surpassed. Be careful if you are considering purchasing expensive medical devices because they may become outdated in a very short time.

Remote diagnosis. Coming to an office near you will be remote diagnosis devices and applications. Because skin care professionals are often the ones who see their clients’ skin up close more frequently than a physician, you might want to become affiliated with a medical practice so that you can send pictures of anything that looks suspicious directly to them for diagnosis. A dermatoscope application for the iPhone* was recently developed to facilitate rapid medical attention. This could result in a lifesaving service that can be offered to your clients.

Laser lipolysis. Body sculpting will soon be much easier with the advent of laser lipolysis. Unlike traditional liposuction, laser lipolysis does not use suction. Instead, the cannula housing the laser is inserted into the area and used to liquefy the fat. Then, the liquefied fat is drained from the body through very tiny incisions. Stitches and heavy sedation are not needed. More often than not, a local anesthetic will suffice. Not only is there less downtime, but also clients can literally get up from the procedure and go back to work. This is a lunchtime procedure that can also be used to treat aging upper arms.