What Could the Future Hold?
Plastic surgery has come a long way in the many decades since women underwent injections of paraffin and beeswax to enhance their breasts. The field of plastic surgery is now advancing rapidly. As technology gets better and better, amazing innovations may become available in the coming years. While no one can predict the future, here are a few things that may be coming down the pipeline.
Ultrasounds that Melt Fat
While liposuction is a relatively non-invasive way to remove stubborn fat from particular areas, something even better may be coming. A new technology, already approved for use in over 50 other countries, uses high-intensity ultrasound to destroy fat cells — with no incisions. After the fat cells die, the fat from within is simply reabsorbed by the body. If approved for use in the U.S., it could be an incision-free alternative to liposuction.
A hybrid of this technique and traditional liposuction is now being used by some plastic surgeons. It’s called “ultrasound-assisted liposuction,” in which ultrasound waves are used to melt fat as described above before sucking it out through a liposuction cannula. This allows a smaller cannula, and some surgeons believe it leads to a smoother appearance and can produce better results. It hasn’t yet been proven scientifically that the new technique actually produces superior results, and you should be extra-careful to find a qualified plastic surgeon if you want to choose this technique, as it could potentially be dangerous in untrained hands. If you’re interested, look for an ASPS-certified surgeon who has been trained and has experience in this particular technique.
The techniques of microsurgery, which are improving daily, allow tiny blood vessels and nerves to be reconnected. This has its widest use in reconstructive surgery, allowing severed limbs to be successfully reimplanted. It could also have implications for cosmetic surgery, as smaller and smaller tissues taken from one part of the body can be successfully transferred to another — for instance, tiny grafts of scalp from a hairy part of the scalp to a bald part.
Fat Injections Made from Stem Cells
Procedures such as breast and buttock augmentation can be performed with fat harvested by liposuction. However, this is currently only an option for those patients who have sufficient fat on other areas of the body to be harvested for liposuction. The tantalizing promise of stem cells is that they can become any type of tissue — including adipose, or fat, tissue. It may become possible to grow significant amounts of the patient’s own fat in the laboratory, then transfer the fat to breasts, buttocks, or other areas. This could one day make implants unnecessary, although it should be noted that we’re a long way from that point now.
The Future is Bright!
Plastic surgery has advanced greatly in recent decades, and it looks like the field will continue to advance rapidly in the coming years. Advances in other fields of surgery have historically found their way into cosmetic surgery, and there’s no reason to expect it to stop now. We have no way of knowing what stunning innovations await us, as scientists and surgeons work to find better and better ways to help people improve their appearance. And if you don’t want to wait, know that your qualified plastic surgeon already has a variety of high-tech methods for improving your appearance now.