Explosion of Technology, What is a patient to do?

Mark Beaty | Double-Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Laser, ultrasound, radiofrequency … oh my

The number of new technologies available for aesthetic enhancement of the face and body is overwhelming, even for experienced physicians.  Sometimes it seems that a new device is released every week claiming to be the best option for rejuvenating some body part or the other.  It helps to keep in mind that these technologies all work by using an energy source capable of interacting with body tissue to create a change in the size, shape of physical characteristics of the target area.  This basic concept means that there is a role for many different types of treatment, including ultrasound (Ulthera), radiofrequency (Profound and PiXel8), and light (lasers and IPL) in a well-designed treatment package.

Choose the right provider

The different technologies all have strengths and weaknesses, with each device being most effective for particular tissue types and treatment goals.  As an example, Ulthera penetrates several millimeters beneath the skin surface to tighten the supportive tissue beneath the skin without harming the surface layers.  On the other hand, microneedle delivered RF technologies provide more skin tightening effect and can improve skin tone and texture.  Light based technologies interact directly with the skin surface to erase pigment irregularities and initiate a resurfacing effect to get rid of lines and wrinkles. The most important factor is working with an expert team that evaluates and understands the best use to technology to help you safely achieve your aesthetic goals.  The devices have complex actions and best results come from practices and physicians who are deeply trained and intimately familiar with the tools they use.  Despite what device companies may lead you to believe, the most important factor in a high quality non-surgical outcome is the expertise of your physician, not the particular device they choose to use.  This does not mean the device is unimportant, there is gradation in quality of technology on the market and a knowledgeable physician will get the best results with the best equipment.  Lewis Hamilton in a Nissan beats an average Joe in a Ferrari on any track, any day, however, Lewis’ best performance will obviously be when driving his Formula 1 car.

Combining technologies can achieve a non-surgical facelift

Combining multiple technologies can provide synergistic results that may more closely approximate the results one may obtain from a facelift surgery.  Deeper penetrating devices like Ulthera can be used to focus on improving the contours of the supportive tissues of the face and can be combined in the same treatment session with skin tightening devices like Profound to improve tautness of the skin envelope.  The effect can be topped off by using a skin resurfacing procedure, often with a laser to erase pigment irregularities and surface lines and wrinkles.  Addressing multiple tissue layers like this comes closer to the type of effect I can produce when performing a surgical facelift.

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