How are sound waves and radio waves used in plastic surgery?

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Ultrasound energy is a wavelength that can be used externally to “see-through” the tissues and let us determine anatomic detail. Its most prevalent use is to see babies in utero and measure growth progress, including a heartbeat, facial features, and hand formation from as early as 6 weeks of gestation! This same energy is now available to guide a needle into the body to place anatomic blocks of local anesthetics to help you recover from tummy tucks and breast augmentation surgery. The TAP block and PEC blocks are incorporated into my practice at the time of surgery so that when you wake up from the procedure you are moving more freely and comfortably. This lessens your narcotic use as well as makes you generally feel better in the most critical 1-2 days after your procedures.

Another state-of-the-art use of ultrasound waves is with Vaser liposelection. This liposuction technique uses sound waves created by a crystal handpiece that is sterilized and used in the operating room. The crystal handpiece is connected to a sterile titanium 3.9 mm probe, which is passed under the skin allowing the sound waves to break the fat cells selectively. In the areas of unwanted fat, as well as unwanted male breast tissue [called gynecomastia] this selectively and gently pops the fat cells like a water balloon. Because it is selective, it preserves the nerves, blood vessels, lymphatics, and collagen, which allows you to recover more quickly with less blood loss, numbness and swelling, and bruising. Older techniques are hollow cannulas that indiscriminately rasp away everything under the skin. We only need to treat the fat- which is why Vaser is the state of the art for liposuction. The Vaser Ultrasound also stimulates more “shrinkwrap” of the areas treated. I participated in clinical studies as a scientific investigator studying Vaser compared to other techniques. Our multi-center study demonstrated that VASER energy had 53% more shrinking of skin than hollow cannula lipo, and also showed 23% less blood loss. Our study scientifically concluded that Vaser has better tightening, less blood loss, and less bruising and pain than older methods of liposuction.

Another area of research in my past at Cal Berkely, Lawrence Berkely laboratories was in the biological effects of radio waves and microwaves on human cells and wound healing. Since then, the use of radio waves to activate helium gas came into the market to treat and tighten human skin and subcutaneous tissues. This energy is called Tesla energy and is delivered at the time of liposuction with Vaser to further improve body contour and tighten skin in all areas. I utilize Vaser ultrasound and Renuvion radio wave energies at the same time in the operating room and in the office to selectively improve body contours. These state-of-the-art body contour modalities are available at Mentor Plastic Surgery & MedSpa. They can be done with tummy tucks, arm lifts, thigh lifts, or breast reshaping surgeries to enhance your shape and improve your outcome. Single areas can be performed in the office with a little ProNox gas to keep you happy during the awake procedure.

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Dr. Paul Vanek

Trusted plastic surgeon, sculptor, biochemist and researcher

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