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Woodruff Health Sciences Center

December 18, 2000 



Imagine improving your appearance by the stroke of a wand. The wand is an ultrasonic treatment head, and it works by delivering high intensity ultrasonic waves to the skin, generating heat that breaks up fat cells and tightens skin.

This technique currently is being used by Seth Yellin, M.D., director of the Emory Facial Center, Emory University School of Medicine, and chief of Facial Plastic Surgery at Emory Healthcare. Described by Dr. Yellin as "shrink wrapping" the skin, the procedure causes permanent contouring that can last up to a decade, with only slight affects from the natural aging process.

Sometimes referred to as external ultrasonic lipoplasty, the technology was originally used to assist liposuction. When it was found to be highly effective in tightening skin, doctors began to use it as a legitimate alternative to the traditional face-lift for tissue contouring.

"This is really an exciting option for my patients," says Dr. Yellin. "It is important to have treatments available that are minimally invasive, whether it is simply to correct a flaw or to make changes in the aging process. This technology offers patients that alternative." Yellin also notes, however, that it is critical that a skilled professional performs this procedure. Overcorrecting can result in permanent damage.

The whole procedure from prep to finish takes from one to two hours. Either IV or local anesthesia sedates the patient. Then, through a small incision, saline solution is injected underneath the skin, forming a barrier between the nerves and the heat of the sound waves. After a gel is applied to protect the top layer of the skin, the ultrasonic treatment head is activated and the surgeon moves it back and forth over the area to be contoured for about five minutes. The heat generated from the ultrasonic waves both ruptures fat cells that are then absorbed into the bloodstream, and contracts collagen proteins which cause the skin to tighten. No hospital stay is required and usually only Tylenol is needed for discomfort following the procedure.

Patients are required to wear an elastic support daily for one week and nightly for several weeks thereafter. Slight improvement is seen immediately, but the full effect takes several months. The procedure can be used for contouring, or it can be combined with muscle tightening and/or liposuction and limited skin removal for a high-tech mini-facelift.

The Emory Facial Center is located at 993-C Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 215. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Yellin, call 404/303-0101.

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