On this site we typically focus on the technology that helps streamline patient record keeping and health information and discovery. Today, though, we thought it would be a good idea to take a break and focus on the technology that is revolutionizing medicine itself. It seems like every day there is a new breakthrough happening in medical and health technology.
Here are just a few of them:
It isn’t just the stuff of fiction; an article published in May in ChicagoBusiness.com confirms that 3-D printing really is making huge waves in the surgical field. The article, titled “3-D printing is revolutionizing surgery,” talks about how companies are using 3-D printing to manufacture hearing aids, knee implants and is making it possible for surgeons to literally see a patient’s internal issues before the patient is even on the table (most notably, it showed surgeons holes in an infant’s heart that hadn’t been visible on the 2-D images of MRIs, X-Rays and CT Scans).
While the medium is one that medical professionals across all fields are anxious to adopt, there are still tests to be run, trials to be conducted and problems to be solved before the practice becomes mainstream.
Obviously, not all of the amazing strides that have been made in medicine recently are due to 3-D printing. Some of the biggest advancements are happening in fields that you would never expect, like plastic surgery.
Many see plastic surgery as a superficial medical field. It has its own medical board and the majority of the work done by plastic surgeons has more effect on a patient’s psychology than physiology. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t amazing advancements being made. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there was a 2-3% increase in plastic surgery procedures done in 2013 over those done in 2012. Here are just a few examples:
The Internal Bra
An article in the UK’s Independent (titled “New plastic surgery installs ‘internal bra’ under the skin for firm, young-looking breasts”) talks about a new “internal bra” constructed out of silicone slings. Instead of replacing breast tissue with silicone or saline implants, the internal bra consists of two, bra-shaped slings of silicone that are positioned below a woman’s breast tissue and then anchored to the woman’s rib cage using screws made out of titanium. The device and procedure are still experimental and has only been approved in the European Union so far. The goal, though, is to reduce amount of reconstructive surgery that is needed after a patient undergoes breast reduction surgery.
The Use of Lasers
According to an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, lasers have been incredibly helpful for procedures like facelifts and skin resurfacing. Other procedures, like eyelifts—that once required incisions and extensive recovery times—can now be done with lasers with very little bleeding, scarring and, most importantly—no incisions.
Another area that has been vastly improved by the introduction of lasers has been hair removal. Clinics like the American Laser skincare clinic are performing a laser hair removal technique called GentleMax Pro that uses a precision laser. Click to learn more about laser hair removal.
The use of ultrasound technology in plastic surgery and other procedures, while approved in the European Union is still being evaluated here in the United States. In the plastic surgery specialty, ultrasound technology has been found very useful in body contouring. The surgeon uses a hand held device that sends low intensity ultrasound waves across the surface of a patient’s skin. The waves permeate the skin and are targeted in the patient’s subcutaneous fat cells. The sound waves vibrate the cells which cases them to disintegrate. The destroyed cells are picked up by the body’s circulatory system and carried to and metabolized the liver.
Previously body contouring was only done with incisions and the removal of the fat cells. The procedure had extensive recovery times and patients often had to return for follow up reconstruction procedures. With ultrasounds, the procedure is non-invasive, and the patient can remain awake and alert.
Every day scientists are working to develop new technologies for all areas of the medical field from procedures to record keeping. These are just a few of the ways that technology has helped define the plastic surgery field and reduce the number of invasive procedures being performed.