Figuring Out What’s Cool in Plastic Surgery: 4 Questions To Ask
In the world of plastic surgery, we are continuously being offered new technologies, new products, or new applications for existing technologies. And these run the gamut from snake oil to something that is very effective. The hard part with all this is trying to figure out what makes sense and what does not. Over the years I have developed a mindset that helps me figure out just how good something is. Because if you listen to the manufacturers’ hype, apparently there is no way we can survive without everything new trick that come down the pike.
So to figure out what’s for real and what isn’t, I ask myself these four questions:
Does this make sense? So, Joe laser dude comes in telling me that his machine will remove all stretch marks -make the skin look like they were never there (I’m making a bit of an exaggeration here). Well, stretch marks are scars in the skin. And there is no way to remove a scar. You can replace them with other, better looking scars, but you cannot zap them away with a laser as if they were never there at all. So, no go for Joe.
Where is the science? And by this I mean what is the scientific basis for this new technology: proof that this works and lives up to it’s hype. This can be kind of interesting. Because sometimes you can show that scientifically this technology is making a change. You can measure it and prove it. However, in terms of how things look, or what patients will see, the change just isn’t that great. Take laser liposuction (sorry to keep picking on lasers). You can show statistically that there is some tightening to the skin, but if you look at the before and after photos you can barely notice a difference. For other technologies, the science is sound and the results look good. These are the ones I’m interested in. There should always been some good scientific studies that show that this new thing really works.
Who’s using it? Is this new fangled machine being used only by the people who invented it, or are other plastic surgeons using it? For this I call up some of my colleagues around the country and get the straight scoop. We did this with CoolSculpting. I spoke with Dr. Joe Hunstad, a friend in Charlotte, and well as Dr. Grant Stevens in California. Both said it was the real deal. But Joe also told me what it could do (abdomen, hip rolls, bra line and muffin tops), and what it could not do (thighs). And this is really valuable information. To me this says that Joe is giving me a very honest assessment of the machine, pointing our where it works, and where it may not. Because not everything works everywhere. If the only people using this new invention are the people who developed it, time to proceed with caution.
Is this right for us? Does this add something that we want to our practice? And can we all make this work? This part is always a team discussion where I get input from everyone in the office.
So how have I done? Well, not perfectly, but pretty well. This is usually obvious by what machines or other things we have sold or gotten rid of. And there has only been one thing that really didn’t work out. But in recent years the biggest hits have been: CoolSculpting, Cutera Laser Applications (Pearl Fractional, Limelight IPL, Laser hair removal, etc), Reveal Camera, and a host of skin care products that we all use. Also, Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction has survived the test of time.
In about two months, we will have our national meeting in New Orleans (assuming it dries out),and any number of the latest and greatest will be on display. I’ll look them over and find out if there’s something new that will make a difference for you. But, as a general rule, I don’t want to be the first person in the county using a new gadget; and I don’t want to the the last person, either.