The Rise of Medspas

Published on January 5, 2013 by in laser hair removal, Medical Industry

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Since 2007 the number of medspas and hybrid medical practices has increased by almost a factor of five, soaring from 800 to 4,500 (from MarketWatch. What has caused this increase, especially since the economy has been less than bullish the past few years? Such a dramatic jump can likely be attributed to multiple factors.

  1. The “lipstick indicator” effect – This is a classic study originally done by a major cosmetics manufacturer that found people wanted to look their best in a down economy. Since unemployment leads to an increase in competition for scarce jobs, those seeking employment try to look their best in an attempt to gain any advantage possible.
  2. Increased healthcare cost – Many private physicians have felt the squeeze of increasing costs but decreasing reimbursements, leading to the need to diversify revenue streams. One potentially lucrative revenue stream is aesthetic medicine and the cash paying patients it brings. Lax regulations on aesthetic treatment providers and device companies eager to train doctors in the use of their equipment offer a relatively low bar for entry into a field offering procedures like laser hair removal and removal of abnormal skin pigmentations. The biggest barrier is the capital invest required to purchase a medical laser.
  3. Increased narcissism – The rise of social media and a renewed interest in Hollywood stars via Facebook and Twitter may be contributing to a general self-absorption. The pressure to look their best has driven increasing numbers to seek aesthetic medical treatments. This is driving up the demand and the market is simply responding to meet this increase

So is it a chicken and egg scenario? Is the market demanding more medspas or is the increase in medspas making treatment more accessible? You decide.

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Once upon a time, liposuction, a surgical procedure where fat is sucked out of the body via a hollow tube inserted under the skin, was one of the only options for eliminating stubborn pockets of fat. With a potential 8 weeks of recovery time and a price tag of $6-$8000, it was not a decision that many entered into lightly if at all. However, thanks to new, recently FDA approved non-invasive technologies, such as Liposonix, patients who might have been afraid to go under the knife now have alternate options.

Liposonix, cleared by the FDA in 2011, uses ultrasonic energy to target the layer of fat just under the skin; the fat is then eliminated by the body’s immune system and liver over a period of time. Though there is no cutting involved, there have been reports of pain, cold, prickling, tingling and warming during the procedure and soreness, bruising, redness and/or swelling afterwards. Though not as dramatic as the results expected from Liposuction, for just about $3000 one can expect a reported average circumference reduction of just over an inch (an entire pants size) at around 8-12 weeks from the time of the procedure.

Although Liposonix may seem like a dream come true to those who have been waiting for a non-surgical, fat loss alternative, some may continue to wait. There are various specifications that a potential patient must reach before being approved. You must have a BMI under 30 (not obese and close to ideal weight), be able to pinch at least 1 inch of fat on your midsection and be realistic about your desired results. Also, this procedure is currently only approved for the abdomen and flanks; so those looking for fat loss in other areas such as the legs, arms or buttock may need to continue to wait or seek out surgical alternatives. To read more about this procedure visit: http://www.cellulitereduction.net/liposonix/.

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Syneron Acquires Ultrashape

Published on February 16, 2012 by in Medical Industry

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Last week Syneron Medical announced the acquisition of Ultrashape Ltd. a “leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative non-invasive technologies for fat cell destruction and body sculpting” for the bargain price of $12 million. The Ultrashape device uses focused ultrasonic energy to treat pockets of fatty tissue in order to achieve smooth body contouring results. While the treatment is not yet approved in the United States, Ultrashape is widely available in Europe, Asia and Canada.

This is not the first major acquisition the Israel-based Syneron has made recently, in late 2009, Syneron bought Candela Lasers making Syneron the largest aesthetic laser manufacturer in the world. Candela was widely known and respected among laser surgeons for their high quality equipment. The additions Syneron has made in purchasing Candela and Ultrashape are a clear indicator that Syneron is determined to maintain the standing at the top of the aesthetic device world.

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New Technology to Fight Cellulite

Published on November 4, 2011 by in cellulite

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Here is a story that is sure to interest many women (and men) about the latest and greatest cellulite treatment. Cynosure, a leading aesthetic device manufacturer, has developed a laser specifically designed to target cellulite, the Cellulaze Cellulite Laser Workstation. The Cellulaze laser is a minimally-invasive treatment that directly treats and repairs the sub-cutaneous tissue which is the root cause of cellulite. Read a segment from the official press release:

Cellulite is caused by several physiological changes as women age including: 1) an increase in the number or size of fat cells pushing up through the tissue beneath the skin; 2) thin connective tissue under the skin that becomes stretched or distended as a result of aging or weight gain; and 3) undulations caused by hardening of tissue underneath the skin.

In the Cellulaze procedure, which is performed under a local anesthetic, the physician inserts a small cannula – a narrow tube the size of the tip of a pen – under the skin. Cynosure’s proprietary SideLight 3D™ side-firing technology directs controlled, laser thermal energy to the treatment zones – typically the buttocks and thighs. The laser is designed to diminish the lumpy pockets of fat, release the areas of skin depression and increase the elasticity and thickness of the skin. Patients require just one treatment.

Although not yet approved by the FDA for use in the United States at this time, it is likely that the Cellulaze workstation will be granted approval in the coming months.

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Stress and Skin

Published on August 15, 2011 by in Dermatology, Neurology

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Many of us have long suspected that there is a connection between stress and our skin. I mean there has to be a reason why that pimple appears on your forehead the day of your big date, right? Well there is a growing body of evidence to linking your skin health to your state of mind. It seems that stress can have an effect on conditions such as rosacea, acne and psoriasis.

This topic was discussed by Dr. Richard G. Fried, MD of Yardley, PA at the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer meeting earlier this month. Dr. Fried, who has a somewhat unique combination of specialties being a board certified dermatologist as well as a clinical psychologist, said the following:

“It is important to consider the biological response that happens when a person experiences stress. Neuropeptides, the chemicals released by skin’s nerve endings, are the skin’s first line of defense from infection and trauma. When responding to protect the skin, neuropeptides can create inflammation and an uncomfortable skin sensation, such as numbness, itching, sensitivity or tingling. However, stressful situations can cause neuropeptides to be inappropriately released, which can lead to a flare of skin conditions.”

The real kicker is that these same neuropeptides can disrupt the chemical balance regulating our emotions and thus can actually cause more stress. It seems this is all just a vicious cycle.

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FDA Sunscreen Regulations

Published on July 1, 2011 by in Dermatology

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I am a huge advocate for proper sun protection so I am excited to see stricter labels for sunblock

Labeling on sunscreen bottles is about to get a whole lot less confusing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday stricter new rules for sunscreen manufacturers’ claims of sun protection, including new provisions that will allow labels to maintain for the first time that products can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

The rules, which the FDA has been considering since 1978, will go into effect by next summer. They will require sunscreen manufacturers to test their products’ effectiveness against two types of the sun’s ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are largely responsible for sunburn; both UVA and UVB rays cause skin wrinkling and cancer.

Read the full story here.

Most people don’t understand they should really be wearing a high spf sunblock every day. The average person has much more sun exposure than they realize. For example, if you commute an distance to work, you are getting sun exposure. Car manufacturers use window treatments that block UVB rays but not UVA rays. I had an aftermarket film added to my car windows to block both types. If your desk is next to a window at work, you are getting a lot of sun exposure there too. It adds up over time and the only way to protect yourself is sunblock everyday!

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I hope that anybody reading this post would not need additional reasons to avoid cocaine use, but on the off chance you dabble in the white powder, you should probably check out this story:

Cocaine contaminated with levamisole, a cheap and widely available drug used to deworm livestock, could result in a U.S. public health epidemic, experts warn.

In a report released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, doctors revealed that patients in Los Angeles and New York who smoked or snorted cocaine diluted or “cut” with the veterinary drug developed serious skin reactions.

Six patients developed patches of purple necrotic skin on their ears, nose and cheeks, as well as other parts of their body, the doctors reported. In some instances, the cocaine users suffered permanent scarring as a result of using the tainted drug.

Two similar cases were also reported in San Francisco along with others that reported additional side effects, including agranulocytosis — a potentially life-threatening immune-system disorder.

The problem, however, could reach epidemic proportions. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that up to 70 percent of cocaine in the United States is contaminated with levamisole…

Read the rest at US News and World

If you can’t trust drug dealers these days, who can you trust?

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Cell Phones Cause Brain Activity

Published on February 24, 2011 by in Neurology, Public Health

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ABC News February 22nd, 2011

ABC news that covers the correlation between cell phone use and cancer. While it can’t be proven either way the simple fact remains that with every passing study that researchers can’t find proof, the danger still remains. Here is a key segment from the article:

“There have been several studies since the late 1990s trying to address whether the human brain is affected by the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones because it’s very, very weak,” said the lead author on the study, Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The studies were very inconsistent, but we designed this study so it would be powered to detect small activity.”

“This shows that the human brain is sensitive to these weak magnetic impulses.”

Now after reading this I’m not suggesting that we all go back to pagers, I just wanted to bring this to your attention so that you can plan accordingly. I’ve started using a headset anytime I take a call when I’m at home. This at the very least cuts my exposure in half. I hope that this article helps in some way.

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Tattoo Regret

Published on February 11, 2011 by in Dermatology, tattoo removal

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In honor of Valentine’s Day from PRweb:

In its annual survey of patients seeking tattoo removal on The Patient’s Guide to Tattoo Removal (http://www.tattooremoval.net), it was found that “Name of Ex-Partner/Spouse” was the number one motivation to seek tattoo removal treatment. Of the 1,061 respondents, 28% cited this as the primary motivation, followed by “Work-related conflict” (25%), “Change of Beliefs” (18%), “Unhappy/Don’t like it” (14%), “Replace with a new tattoo” (7%), Medical Reasons (4%), and Other (3%). Young adults (18-29 yr olds) were the largest demographic feeling a change of heart, with 30% of all respondents citing “Name of Ex-Partner/Spouse”, followed by Adults (30-40 yr olds) at 27%.

“The most common reason people come in for tattoo removal at my practice is to remove someone’s name,” says Patient’s Guide Chairman and laser expert Eric F. Bernstein, M.D. “Love is forever, except in real life under rare circumstances. When a relationship ends, people want the tattoo off. Other common reasons include feelings that it’s interfering with their job, or that it no longer represents who they are.”

In a similar study conducted by The Patient’s Guide in 2009, it was found that the majority of respondents didn’t appreciate the implications of tattoo ink being “permanent”, or which colors of ink would be more challenging to remove. “White and tan tattoo pigments are dangerous for laser specialists because they turn black when they get lasered,” said Dr. Bernstein. “Once it turns black it might not ever come out, but more commonly, it’s just more difficult and takes more treatments. Green is challenging to remove as well, but the Alexandrite laser is classically referred to in order to remove green pigment. The Ruby laser is good for green as well.”

So the moral of the story is, don’t get names tattooed on you unless they are your blood relation, blood relations aren’t going anywhere. Even if you get your kids name tattooed on you, don’t do it in a spot that can’t be easily covered. What this story doesn’t mention is the fact that laser tattoo removal is a long, expensive, and painful process. The best way to avoid this process is to choose you tattoos carefully to begin with.

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Medical Imaging Going Mobile

Published on February 10, 2011 by in Radiology

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In our increasingly mobile world, it is not hard to imagine the rise of medical diagnostic tools on our smart phones and tablet computers. On the one hand I am amazed that it took this long to start creating medical diagnostic apps and on the other hand and am surprised it gained FDA clearance so quickly. Not that there is any inherent reason to reject an app like this, but as with any new technology that comes across the FDA’s plate I’m sure there had to be miles of red tape and several hoops to jump through. I guess its a testament to the value, and not just monetarily, of lightweight, mobile information.

InformationWeek, February 10, 2001

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that it has given 510(k) clearance to a new mobile radiology application developed by Cleveland, Ohio-based MIM Software. The software, called Mobile MIM, allows physicians to view medical images on Apple’s iPhone and iPad mobile devices.

Announced last week, the move marks the first time that the FDA has given clearance to a mobile health application that will help clinicians view images and make medical diagnoses based on computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine technology, such as positron emission tomography (PET).

The news is yet another indication that mobile devices, particularly the iPad, are gaining significant traction among doctors and other clinical employees who are using the product in various hospital settings, according to Irene Berlinsky, IDC’s senior research analyst covering multiplay services.

I for one hope to see many more medical applications like this. The more information and tools health care professionals can bring to bear on a problem the better patient care will be.

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