Increasingly sophisticated technology is making it easier than ever to get the body you've always dreamed of—with less risk, pain, and scarring.
Something to smile about: Some dental practices, such as DC Smiles, offer in-office imaging to aid in diagnoses and treatment plans.
As the technology used by dentists and cosmetic surgeons improves, the results seen by patients can grow ever more impressive. Here’s a peek at some of the most recent DC breakthroughs.
Scar Reduction Takes Off
There were 1.7 million cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2015, reports the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and undoubtedly many patients were concerned about scarring.
That’s why board-certified plastic surgeon Kirit Bhatt, MD, of Rejuve Plastic Surgery (6801 Whittier Ave., Ste. 301, McLean, 703-832-4000), helped develop Embrace, a scar therapy technology, while a clinical fellow at Stanford University in 2009. “Embrace is an advanced dressing that significantly reduces the appearance of scars after surgery,” he says. Now available commercially, the treatment “can be used on any incision on the body after cosmetic surgery [and] works by relieving the pulling on surgical incisions.”
Bhatt also takes steps in the operating room to minimize tension and inflammation around incisions, and he points out that patients with darker skin tones— for whom scarring can be a particular problem—have also seen improvement with Embrace. “We’re trying to achieve scarless healing as our ultimate goal,” says Bhatt. “We still have some ways to go but are making progress.”
3-D Goes Beyond Teeth
Dentists use 3-D imaging for everything from planning dental implants to visualizing teeth for extraction. Now, conebeam computerized tomography can provide them with a 3-D view of not only teeth, but also bone and even soft tissue.
“It gives a wealth of information,” says Lawrence D. Singer, DMD, who is an assistant clinical professor of surgery at George Washington University Hospital, and the founder and managing partner of DC Smiles (809 Cameron St., Alexandria, 703-299- 4614). He explains that the technology can help dentists detect temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (which can cause pain in the jaw) and narrowed airways (a risk factor for sleep apnea). “A lot of people think they have migraine headaches, but really they have TMJ,” he says, adding that a dentist can refer patients with signs of overlapping medical issues to other specialists for diagnosis and further treatment.
Breast augmentation was the number-one form of cosmetic surgery in 2015, with 279,000 procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Now, a new structured breast implant, the Ideal Implant, gives patients seeking augmentation an additional option, says board-certified plastic surgeon A. Dean Jabs, MD, PhD, of Cosmetic Surgery Associates (1515 Chain Bridge Road, #310, McLean, 703-506-0683). This structured implant is filled with saline, which can be absorbed by the body in case of rupture, as opposed to silicone, which can’t. “It looks and feels as if it’s a gel implant,” Jabs adds. Of course, as with any surgery, you should always discuss the benefits and risks with your board-certified plastic surgeon.
Liposuction—the second most popular cosmetic surgical procedure of 2015—is still the gold standard for reshaping specific body areas by removing excess fat, says Christopher D. Knotts, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon who works alongside Drs. George Weston, Robert Sigal, and Byron Poindexter at Austin-Weston, the Center for Cosmetic Surgery (1825 Samuel Morse Dr., Reston, 703-893-6168). Innovations in the technique include ultrasound energy and laser heating, but “major technology advances are really in noninvasive cosmetic treatments,” he explains. “In the last five years or so, the market has proven that fat removal can work using cooling or heating technology.”
One such option is CoolSculpting, a treatment that uses a suction cup that draws in skin and fat; the fat is then cooled, and over time those chilled fat cells die off and are absorbed by the body. “The treatment takes an hour,” Knotts says, “and it does get sore afterward, but it’s the kind of pain a good workout gives you.” Another new noninvasive option, he adds, is called SculpSure. It uses laser energy to heat fat, which the body dissolves over time.
These noninvasive procedures aren’t for everyone and can produce just a fraction of the fat reduction possible with liposuction, Knotts says. But for those who want only mild sculpting, they’re perhaps something to discuss with your plastic surgeon—in addition to discussing the risks (side effects can include swelling and bruising) and, of course, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.