Headline from ASLMS: cosmetic laser surgery not always best

An article in the Orlando Sentinel covering the recent laser meeting in Orlando (American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, also known as “ASLMS”) came out with this headline.  I thought it would be educational to look at the article in more detail, and comment on it.

Article:  “…of all the procedures, hair removal seemed to deliver best on its promise.  The before and after photos presenters showed of vascular lesions – particularly the small broken blood vessels on the side of the nose and red birthmarks – also showed clear improvement”

Comment: I agree.  These are mature laser technologies, and do work effectively.

Article:  “Least impressive were results from laser-assisted body contouring and face and neck lifting.  One practitioner on the body contour panel said that in only 20% of cases where a patient had the non-invasive Cool Sculpting procedure were both the doctor and the patient satisfied…”

Comment:  I agree here too.  It’s hard to beat a well-performed liposuction with either PAL or standard tumescent techniques, or a traditional surgical facelift.  The laser-assisted liposuction devices are still evolving and changing every year.  Manufacturers and surgeons can’t seem to agree on which wavelength, power and other parameters are the best for these fat-busting lasers – which tells you that they really don’t yet know.  I’m surprised that the satisfaction number is only 20%.  That’s really dismally low for laser liposuction.

Article:  Discussing laser treatments of the face & neck, the report quotes Dr, Zelickson, a renowned laser researcher and developer of the Zeltiq, “In many cases, results are very modest; tightening is hard to measure.”

Comment:  Truthful words from Dr. Z.  That’s one reason why I don’t use Ulthera – the results are too darn subtle. I think patients want to see obvious visible improvements without having to scrutinize their before and after photos for minor improvements.

Article:  “Patients need to do their homework and not go off a billboard”, said Dr. Geronemus.

Comment:  Truer words were never spoken!

So even though a procedure with the word “laser” attached to it sounds all high-tech and cool, it’s not always the best choice.  Be sure to check out the alternatives.

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