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    Inside the Business of Body Shaping


    Even when a new device has a solid background and works to differentiate a practice and open it up to potential patients, return on investment (ROI) can be difficult to assess, stated Dr. McCoy, who also employs the Z Wave. “Z Wave helps to improve patient outcomes and supports other modalities. It definitely helps improve the comfort of multiple treatments that I offer,” he said. “With the value it adds I’ve been able to charge more and sell more procedures. While there may not be a direct ROI from this treatment, it is something that differentiates me because not everybody is doing it. ROI can also come from the ability to differentiate yourself as a leader in the industry.”

    Surprisingly, some physicians still approach energy-based systems as a money losing proposition. “I heard one of the most knowledgeable plastic surgeons in the business give a talk on how device purchases are unwise,” Dr. Duncan revealed. “The belief is that by the time you have finished paying the system off you haven’t made any money, the device is outdated, and you actually paid extra for the privilege of getting stuck with a dust gathering, space consuming piece of equipment.”

    However, as Dr. McCoy conveyed, device manufacturers have done a good job of presenting potential buyers with quality purchase or lease deals. “There were horror stories in the past, but this has actually improved a lot in recent years,” he said. “Companies have started to realize that medical aesthetics is a very small community and unethical vendors simply don’t last.”

    One of the most established brands in energy-based body shaping is the VASERlipo® System from Solta Medical, a division of Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America, LLC (Hayward, Calif.), which uses minimally invasive ultrasound technology for precision body contouring. According to John A. Millard, M.D., F.A.C.S., a plastic surgeon in Denver, Colo., this system enables physicians to sculpt both the deep and superficial fatty layers. “The VASER works very effectively in the superficial fatty layer, enabling three-dimensional shaping of this layer and substantial skin tightening,” he noted. “For example, using my techniques I was able to transform a female patient from a size 14 to a size 6. You can also remove around twice as much adipose tissue per cubic centimeter, and that fat is viable for grafting.”

    Tahl N. Humes, D.O., an aesthetic practitioner in Denver, Colo., sought a body shaping device that would provide consistent, effective results and she chose truSculpt® 3D from Cutera, Inc. (Brisbane, Calif.), which delivers controlled monopolar RF technology at 2 MHz to uniformly heat the subcutaneous adipose tissue. “Our patients can tolerate heat really well and truSculpt 3D provides an incredibly comfortable treatment for multiple body areas that is quick and reproducible.”

    Having an energy-based device that can address several body areas was a requirement for Dr. Chilukuri. “I was on the hunt for a more efficient body shaping system that produced consistent results,” he said. “I investigated many new technologies and energy types, and decided to go with Vanquish ME from BTL Aesthetics (Boston, Mass.). It was paid off in less than five months and has been steadily profitable ever since. We are achieving some stellar results. I use it in combination with other modalities on the face and neck, as well as the body. It works well for debulking and is a great option to have for anyone with a larger BMI.”

    Ultimately, patients have the last word on whether or not an energy-based body shaping device has been successful, Dr. Sasaki noted. “Patient satisfaction is usually very high with our body shaping devices, but they have to be complemented not only by other devices, but by physician-dispensed topicals and if need be, surgery. For plastic surgeons, like myself, that’s our core.”


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