Risks and Benefits of Advances in Plastic Surgery Technology

Are you wondering if new, non-surgical breakthroughs in plastic surgery are the answer to smoothing skin and reducing fat? The ads can be pretty convincing. “No surgery needed.” “Get the body you want in less than an hour.” “Smooth your belly on your lunch break and go right back to work.” It’s easy to see why new aesthetic technology might sound extremely tempting. Who wouldn’t want to solve problem spots with just a quick visit, with no surgery or recovery time needed?

Unfortunately, things aren’t always what they appear to be when it comes to technological advances in cosmetic procedures. Since there are long-term risks that can lead to disfigurement and make it harder to resolve problem areas, later on with actual surgery, it’s extremely important to do your research and look at the scientific data before making the decision to have a “non-invasive” procedure. Dr. Cat takes pride in prioritizing the health and safety of her patients and making sure they receive the best results possible. That’s why she also has taken on the responsibility of educating the public on the marketing traps and often unspoken side effects of trending plastic surgery technology. Read on to learn why some of today’s popular procedures may not be all they claim to be.

The Latest Med Spa Technology Might Not Be as Glamorous as it Sounds

There have been many advances in plastic surgery and new procedures are being introduced all the time. Unless you have dedicated your life to the art and science of plastic surgery, like Dr. Cat has, it can be very confusing to sift through all of the hype. Some advances are positive and beneficial to patients, but some new technologies are more marketing than they are science. Honesty and transparency are extremely important to Dr. Cat. She’s passionate about educating her patients and the public about the truth: many trending “non-invasive” devices just don’t work. This is why you won’t see pamphlets with marketing material for trendy new devices at Dr. Cat’s Beverly Hills office.

Before signing up for any popular or new procedure out there, Dr. Cat urges everyone to do their research. The “latest and greatest” technology may produce instantly gratifying results, but what about the long-term effects? Many of these “breakthrough” technologies haven’t been studied for many years. Dr. Cat emphasizes scientific data over marketing materials that don’t tell the whole story. It’s also important to understand the immense profits plastic surgeons and med spas stand to make off of quick and simple low-cost procedures that can be used on many patients without it requiring significant skill or training. Dr. Cat prefers a patient-focused approach over high profits. And she wants anyone reading to become savvy to marketing and learn to ask questions and demand answers about long-term side effects, risks, and actual scientific data.

Here are some questions you should always ask prior to a procedure:

  • What credentials does the person who will be performing the procedure have? Dr. Cat for example graduated from Harvard with honors, received her medical degree from UCLA, and completed six years of training in their Head and Neck Surgery program followed by another training at one of the country’s most renowned Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery programs, where she published numerous research papers in medical journals on aesthetic research.
  • What independent published studies or research supports the claims made by the device’s manufacturer?
  • What side effects have been reported by patients?
  • What are the long-term studies and data on this device? How long have patients who have had this procedure been tracked?


What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a brand name, the actual procedure is called cryolipolysis. It uses freezing cold temperatures to break down fat cells. Since skin isn’t damaged at the same temperature as fat, this technique doesn’t harm the skin. It’s typically used on areas of the body with stubborn fat, such as the waistline, hips, buttocks, and thighs. Over the course of approximately one hour sessions, fat cells may be destroyed. However, not all fat cells are damaged in this process. It can require multiple visits over the course of several months to destroy even 20% of fat cells.

The Dangers of New Plastic Surgery Technology: CoolSculpting Risks

CoolSculpting can sound quick and easy. It’s tempting to think of getting fat frozen away without any surgery or recovery time. But that’s not often the case. Patients who receive CoolSculpting can experience pain, swelling, and sensitivity. Also, with CoolSculpting, there is no guarantee that a patient will lose any fat from the treated area. Whereas with liposuction, the fat cells are removed from the body, so they can never come back again to this specific spot.

Patients can also encounter a condition known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. This actually causes the exact opposite result – enlargement of the treated area! Another issue is the scar tissue CoolSculpting can create. Dr. Cat feels strongly about warning patients about this CoolSculpting side effect because it makes future liposuction and tummy tuck surgery much more complicated. This makes their surgery more complex and expensive and it would have been far easier (and cheaper) for them to just have the tummy tuck or liposuction, rather than spend money for a “non-invasive” procedure that was ineffective and did more harm than good.

Laser Lipo

What’s the difference between traditional liposuction and laser liposuction?

To understand how laser liposuction is different, it helps to begin by understanding what traditional liposuction involves. Liposuction uses thin tubes called a cannula which is inserted strategically to suction and remove fat cells from problem spots where excess, stubborn fat is stored. With this type of liposuction, you have the option of using the removed fat cells for a fat transfer. That’s when your own fat is added to other parts of the body such as breasts or buttocks.

Laser liposuction is similar to traditional liposuction in that it also suctions out fat using a thin cannula. But before this removal occurs, the fat cells are melted by laser energy that is fed through the skin to the areas of fat by a thin fiber optic cable. This laser can reach as high as 900 degrees when melting the fat!

The Dangers of New Plastic Surgery Technology: Laser Lipo

Dr. Cat does not recommend laser lipo because of the side effects it can cause. These side effects include burns to the tissue and the formation of scar tissue. Although patients may be drawn to laser lipo because it is a fast procedure, they may not be as satisfied with the results. Dimpling, lumpiness, and asymmetry can occur because there is not the same level of control and precision as with traditional liposuction. Additionally, since the fat cells are destroyed, laser lipo does not offer the option of peforming fat transfer in conjunction with liposuction.

Another treading type of liposuction procedure is known as ab etching. This procedure uses liposuction to attempt to create more pronounced ab muscles by removing most of the fat around these muscles. Dr. Cat warns patients that this type of liposuction procedure can cause immense scarring where the abs are created. 

Thermi Devices

While we’ve explored the dangers of plastic surgery devices, not all innovations are bad. Dr. Cat makes sure to stay on top of new plastic surgery techniques and new plastic surgery technology. With an eye to the future of plastic surgery, each device or new procedure goes through a strong investigative process before it can pass Dr. Cat’s high standards as something worthy of offering her patients. One of those innovations which Dr. Cat has found to be safe and beneficial are Thermi Devices. These devices, such as ThermiSmooth Face, ThermiSmooth Body, and ThermiVa (for the labia and vagina) are highly effective at non-surgical skin tightening. They work by stimulating collagen production through heat and radio frequencies.

These devices offer a good alternative for patients who are not candidates for certain skin removal procedures such as tummy tuck, thigh lift, facelift, or eyelid lift. This non-invasive procedure is quick, painless, and allows the patient to return to all of their everyday activities immediately after the procedure.