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2009 in Cosmetic Medicine

January 4, 2010 |

New techniques that extend the range of cosmetic medicine were highlights of 2009, but the year also was marked by controversy, recession and injuries suffered by prominent plastic-surgery patients.

On the positive side, Irvine-based Allergan has a big hit on its hands with the newly launched eyelash-enhancing drug Latisse. 

“For my practice, the biggest story of 2009 has been Latisse for eyelashes,” said dermatologic surgeon Dr. David Sire of Fullerton.

“Latisse is a great product for growing eyelashes,” said plastic surgeon Dr. David Shafer of New York.  “It has worked on every single person that I have prescribed it for. I think it would be more widely used if the price point was lower. For many women … it has become an essential part of their daily skin-care routine.”

Many Latisse patients use less than the recommended dose because otherwise the full treatment could cost $1,200 a month.

Aesthetic consultant Wendy Lewis of New York, president of Wendy Lewis & Co. and author of the book “Plastic Makes Perfect,” called Latisse the “big winner of 2009.” But because of consumers’ responses to it, she said, “the price is coming down, down, down.”

Also in 2009, Zeltiq Aesthetics of Pleasanton, Calif., began commercial distribution in the United States of a new device that uses cold temperature to destroy fat cells.

“It’s difficult to beat the Zeltiq story,” said Dr. Christopher Zachary, chairman of the UCI Department of Dermatology. “Non-invasive, painless, safe and predictable fat removal is the hidden story of 2009, and the big news for 2010. Once the public realize how good this is, they will be clamoring for it!”

Elsewhere in the country, doctors cited the popularity of the Zerona fat-fighting laser.

“Zerona body slimming — how do you argue with hundreds of units placed in the U.S. within several months using a unique financial model?” said cosmetic doctor Dr. Alan Bauman of Boca Raton, Fla.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Ash Ghavami of Beverly Hills also cited Zerona as a big story of 2009. He said, “Zerona is a new, non-invasive way to do fat reduction. It’s a laser that rotates throughout the body so they don’t have to go in [with liposuction].”

Bauman, a hair transplant specialist, also cited the new NeoGraft machine-assisted hair-transplant system, which he said “took the industry by storm.”

Several experts cited the approval of Sculptra Aesthetic, an injection that’s designed to do more than simply act as a filler, instead stimulating the body over a period of two years to create new tissue to smooth out wrinkles.

Approved for cosmetic use by the Food and Drug Administration in the summer, it has been used since 2004 to treat wasting suffered by HIV/AIDS patients.

It’s “the first truly ’stimulatory volumizing agent.’ ” said plastic surgeon Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc of New York and Santa Rosa, Calif.  “I think this is the beginning of the next phase of fillers/volumizers. Next-generation fillers will be more stimulatory rather than filling. They will have the patient’s skin/body do the work.”

“It’s a great product, but still vastly misunderstood,” Lewis said.

Shafer said the year’s biggest story was the introduction of Dysport injections as a competitor to Botox, which is made by Allergan.

“It is nice to have another botulinum toxin type A product approved to compete with Botox Cosmetic,” he said. “However, the name Dysport has not caught on and is generally referred to as ‘The New Botox.’ ”

“Also, it is marked as ‘cheaper than Botox.’ However, we are talking about 5 percent or less cheaper. What is a savings of $25 when you are spending $1000 or more? Not much of a savings.”

Lewis called Dysport this year’s “big loser … due to lack of marketing and patient demand, although all doctors believe it is at least as good as Botox and has some small advantages.”

December 23rd, 2009, posted by Colin Stewart

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