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Bells and Whistles: A Guide to Tech Tools

Cosmetic doctors reveal their favorite toys, tools, and technologies.

Lasers and energy-based devices have clearly moved this field forward, but there are many other toys, tools, and technologies that cosmetic doctors rely on to do their jobs as best as they can.

Modern Aesthetics® magazine reached out to several top cosmetic doctors to learn about their faves, and how these have helped up their game in the OR and out. (Not surprisingly, social media came up a lot.)

“I recently starting using Sinclair Pharma Silhouette InstaLift™ resorbable sutures marketed by Thermi Aesthetics in the US. This minimally invasive procedure uses sutures to lift the underlying midface tissue and fixate the cheek in an elevated position to effectively lift the skin of the mid-face, brow, and mandible. Each suture is composed of fully resorbable glycolide/L-lactide (PLGA) with two sets of bi-directional absorbable PLGA cones. The sutures are inserted with a specialized 23-gauge needle into the subcutaneous space where there are fewer blood vessels and nerves. After the tissue is lifted to the desired height, the cones are engaged and fixated. By engaging the cones, tissue suspension is achieved.

Depending on the number of sutures placed, the procedure generally can be performed within 30-45 minutes using local anesthesia. The big advantage to patients is that the procedure is well tolerated and is associated with minimal recovery—typically, mild discomfort, swelling, and bruising for two to three days. While an immediate lifting effect is seen, continued clinical improvement of the skin is experienced over time as the PLGA sutures and cones resorb and stimulate neocollagenesis.

Patient selection is key with this technique. In the right patient, who presents with early signs of aging and minimal skin laxity, prolonged clinical effects are expected for two years. InstaLift also complements many other treatments already available to patients, including injectable neuromodulators and dermal fillers as well as energy-based lasers and devices targeting skin tone and texture. Because the Instalift is a relatively simple and quick treatment option to provide a skin lift, it is particularly well suited for patients who do not want to undergo a surgical procedure with its inherently long postoperative recovery and risk of scarring. Although clinical results can be subtle, it fills an unmet need and additional sutures can be placed as needed to maintain or further enhance results as patients age and/or as sutures resorb.”

Tina S. Alster, MD

Director, Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery

Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Georgetown University

Washington, DC

“I rely on a few things to up my game: Live video to show my personality and/or procedures from Facebook Live, Periscope.TV, or YouTube Live. Anything that shows your personality or you interacting with your patients is exactly what your existing and potential patients want to see! This has greatly increased my business.”

Rich Castellano, MD

CEO and Founding Facial Plastic Surgeon


Tampa, Florida

“Cannulas have really been a game changer for my practice. I have been using them for about four years now, almost exclusively. This technology not only markedly reduces the incidence of bruising for my patients, but also minimizes the pain associated with multiple needle sticks from filler. For me, I’m able to contour and distribute the filler very evenly by only using one needle site for the cannula to be inserted. There is less tissue trauma and, because of that, less tissue swelling afterward, which means less downtime. People frequently come to my practice for dermal fillers simply because they have heard that I use the cannulas and the associated benefits from them.”

Michael T. Somenek, MD

Facial Plastic Surgeon

Washington, DC

“The Accuvein is a laser vein finder that can be very useful in a cosmetic practice and has been a great addition to my practice. The device illuminates veins that are up to 10 mm deep. This is useful for doctors who perform leg vein treatments, start IVs, perform filler injection, and teach anatomy. When the battery-operated device is aimed at the skin, the veins become very visible. It has actually been a great marketing tool, too. When we treat a new patient who had bruising issues at a previous practice, they are more than impressed when we do a vein scan before their neuromodulator or filler injections. This definitely adds a high-tech spin to our practice and impresses patients.”

Joe Niamtu III, DMD

Cosmetic facial surgeon

Midlothian, VA

“I am always searching for ways to improve my surgical results, especially for more complex secondary rhinoplasty cases. I have employed a high-definition 3D endoscope for greater precision in these patients. This system allows me to clearly see areas that can be difficult to visualize with a closed approach, such as the angle of the nasal tip and small irregularities of the dorsum. The internal structures of the nose can be seen with much more precision and clarity with this system, which in turn, facilitates better results with secondary and tertiary rhinoplasties that often lack support and necessitate the placement of multiple grafts. Instead of rasping over soft tissue, muscle, and vessels and getting bruising, I am specifically reducing cartilage and bone under direct visualization with a high-definition 3D telescope system. This can avoid irregularities and sharp edges, minimize cartilage removal and promote a quicker recovery for the patient. The advantages go far beyond rapid recovery. Due to increased visibility, the surgery is more direct and allows for greater precision, as tissue is not distorted by swelling during the procedure. I also now routinely employ a micropowered diamond machine to soften and refine the edges of all my cartilage grafts, I can achieve a more finessed result. Having had experience using diamond burr high-powered units to smooth out the bone during reconstructive ear surgery, I decided to apply this technique with cartilage grafts to create a rounded edge. This has worked extremely well and I have been able to achieve the round edges for cartilage grafts consistently. In addition, I have moved away from using nasal packing in favor of using only tissue glue to insure a faster and more comfortable recovery, which is a clear benefit to patients as well. “

Sam Rizk, MD, FACS

Facial Plastic Surgeon

New York City, NY

“I have been using Snapchat in my office for almost two years years now. I broadcast my surgeries, follow-up, and non-surgical procedures such as fillers, toxin, and lasers. My following has steadily grown and currently my account is viewed 3.5 million times per day. There are several obvious advantages to being popular on Snapchat including marketing and branding. Since I have developed a loyal following on social media, the majority of my patients find me in this manner. A recent survey in my office of 1,052 consecutive surgical consults showed that 85 percent were actively following my on Snapchat prior to coming for the consultation. Additionally, these patients have a significantly higher booking rate since they are familiar with me, my staff, and my results. They have essentially pre-selected me as their surgeon. Data analysis of the same consecutive consults demonstrated a booking rate of 73 percent for my Snapchat followers versus 42 percent for those who were not following me on Snapchat. This is a tremendous difference and has significant impact on practice revenue and marketing practices.

Snapchat costs zero in terms of implementation. I do very little in terms of paid advertisement and marketing and I plan on cutting that to zero as soon as my current marketing contracts expire. On Snapchat, there is no faking it. The footage is shown as it happens with no Photoshopping or digital manipulation. The footage can be trusted, unlike with other social media platforms that allow you to post manipulated photos. This helps instill confidence that you are showing realistic results that they can achieve. Additionally, allowing Internet spectators into my operating room has made me more aware of my surgical practices and how they are viewed. The viewers have a keen eye and will notice everything. This means that they will notice if your surgical field is messy, or if your assistant is not wearing eye protection. And in most cases, they will send a message if they see something that looks out of place.

Keep in mind, they are not surgeons, or even medical professionals, so 99 percent of what they point out is simply because they don’t understand the process or the workings of a medical office or OR. However, every once in a while, they will make a valid and legitimate observation. These comments are not always negative. They can be positive. I always keep a very neat surgical field. I wipe the blood and body fluids from the skin and discard all lap sponges as they get bloody. The comments from viewers show me that they appreciate this neatness and interpret it as me being a better and more caring surgeon.

During a Snapchat surgery, it is important to explain what is being done so that your viewers can follow along. This means that you as a surgeon need to understand exactly what you are doing so that you can explain it. It seems intuitive, but not every surgeon can explain the steps of the surgery as they are doing it. My viewers want to know the blood supply and the innervation of the areas I am operating on, and unfortunately, this may be knowledge that was lost many years ago. I will admit that some of the questions from my viewers have forced me to open up that textbook again. The viewers are more interested in the process of the surgery, and not always simply before-and-after photos.”

Matthew Schulman, M.D

Plastic Surgeon

New York City