What Could the Future Hold?
Facial plastic surgery has come a long way in the centuries since ancient Egyptians performed rhinoplasties by the Nile. While facial plastic surgery has been around for thousands of years, the last few decades have seen dramatic advancements in the techniques and materials used to enhance the appearance of the face.
With so much interest in facial plastic surgery, scientists and surgeons are working to improve it even further. What could the future hold? Here are a few of the innovations now coming down the pipeline.
Yes, you read that right! And no, this isn’t a science fiction novel. A device that melts fat without damaging the skin above it is already in existence.
Sometimes, people have fatty deposits in the face that are unattractive, and which they want removed. A very common site for this is under the eye, where people frequently experience a “puffiness” that makes them appear tired. Surgeons typically remove this fatty deposit during blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). However, technology is rapidly advancing that can use lasers to melt fat just below the surface of the skin. The new technique called laser lipolysis not only causes fat cells to break open (the fat is then absorbed by the body), but it also leads to the production of more collagen, which is the protein that gives skin its tightness.
As this technique advances, doctors could gain the ability to target it more and more precisely, leading to the possibility of using it to melt those under-eye fat deposits. It could potentially also be used in areas that don’t have much fat, but have saggy skin, to create more collagen and tighten the skin.
Materials science is a field that’s seen rapid innovation over the past few decades. From waterproof coatings to shatterproof glass, scientists and engineers have been able to create increasingly advanced materials in many areas, and surgery is no exception. Implant materials are being developed that are unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction, and that help to resist the growth of excessive scar tissue around the implant. As facial plastic surgery continues to advance, one area of growth is likely to be the development of better and better materials for implants.
We now trust computers to help us navigate through the world accurately and efficiently. They could also help surgeons navigate through our bodies. As modeling technology advances, surgeons are gaining the ability to use increasingly detailed 3-D models of a patient’s face (or body) to plan surgery. This allows them to make surgery safer by avoiding damage to nerves, blood vessels, and other important structures, as well as making it more effective by showing the exact size and shape of bones, cartilage, tendons, muscles, fat deposits, and other structures. The face is a complex part of the body with many tiny structures; using computers to guide surgery could lead to improvements in safety and effectiveness.
The use of materials (whether injected or surgically implanted) is limited by the tendency of many materials to cause inflammation or to induce scarring. Human materials (such as human fat and human skin) do not have these problems; however, when body parts from one person are transferred to another person, the receiving person’s immune system usually sees the transferred parts as potential invaders and destroys them. If a person’s own fat or skin could be grown in a lab to be transferred into their body, then all of these problems could be avoided.
Scientists have been working on this idea for decades, ever since the discovery of stem cells, which are cells that can become any type of cell. They’re getting closer and closer to being able to grow human tissues from stem cells in a laboratory setting. An exciting discovery was made of stem cells in human fat, which can be induced to grow into new fat cells or some other types of cells. They could be useful in facial plastic surgery, because they could be used to grow the patient’s own fat, which could then be injected or implanted into parts of the face that the patient wants to augment. This would be extremely safe, and would avoid some of the current problems with facial implants and dermal injections.
The Future is Bright!
The innovations coming down the pipeline in the field of facial plastic surgery are exciting. And the present is exciting too. You have many great options for changing the look of your face. Whether you’re looking to change your features, fix an injury, or reduce the signs of aging, facial plastic surgery can help you. So there’s no need to wait — go ahead and explore your options!