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Medical tourism is a growing trend when it comes to plastic and cosmetic surgery. Some Americans believe that they can get the same cosmetic procedures for a lower cost outside the U.S.

Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and Colombia are the most popular destinations among American medical tourists. An interesting fact: some of the better surgeons were actually trained in Cuba. There are a lot of excellent doctors in Latin America and the equipment they use is often comparable to that available in the laser clinics in the U.S. You just have to do your own research to avoid complications.

Importance needs to be placed on researching the doctor’s credentials and experience because you want a doctor who is qualified and will take good care of you. As far as the cost… These days you can get excellent deals within a reasonable driving distance from your home. Plastic surgeons and medical spas in the U.S. is a very saturated business. There is a lot of competition and a lot of top notch experts in both surgical and non-invasive procedures. Give them a chance at a free consult before you board an airplane! Guess where the Swiss are going to save money on cosmetic surgery? The U.S.!

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  • Filed under: Market | consumers, RS | cosmetic surgery
  • laser-resurfacing

    Still horrified by laser blasting of facial wrinkles followed by months of redness? This is so 90s!

    New generation of aesthetic lasers is safer and more selective in treating just what the doctors says you need: wrinkles, age spots, broken capillaries, saggy skin, etc. The result? Faster healing, so you can get back in makeup and return to work with smoother skin in as little as 24-48 hours. Well… it depends. Here is a brief guide to different laser treatments so you can better understand your options.

    Ablative Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Resurfacing

    This is the skin-wounding original 1990s procedure.

    Used for: hard-core lines and acne scars; can also tighten loose skin but is safe only for fair skin types only.

    How it works: By blasting and burning away the skin’s top layer, this aggressive single treatment bulldozes wrinkles and everything else in it path.

    How it feels: you should not feel anything during the procedure since it is performed under general anesthesia. Recovery time: you are a burn victim for several days with open wounds, which ooze and bleed, followed by 7-10 days of rawness while your obliterated epidermis regenerates, and pinkness for 4-5 months.

    Price: $4,000 to $8,000

    Efficacy/Results: Excellent (if done right) but in a few months after the treatment.

    Ablative  Erbium Laser Resurfacing

    Used for: fine to deep wrinkles and acne scars; can also tighten loose skin, doctor must be cautious with darker skin types.

    How it works: By evaporizing layers of epidermis (the skin’s top layer).

    How it feels: This proceudre is performed under a topical or local anesthesia and you may experience some burning discomfort. Recovery time: depending on the depth of resurfacing, you will feel from slight to mild oozing for 2-5 days, followed by 7-20 days of pinkness, which can be covered by make-up.

    Price: $1,500 to $3,000

    Efficacy/Results: Good to excellent depending on the depth of resurfacing.

    Ablative Fractional Resurfacing

    Types of lasers used: either CO2 or Erbium (Er:YAG).

    Used for: Smoothing fine-to-deep lines and evening out brown spots in a single treatment. Can also help tighten lax skin and remove some small spider veins.

    How it works: The laser beam strikes the skin in thousands of tiny spots, destroying tissue a millimeter deep in those microscopic spots only (think perforated paper). Surrounding skin remains intact, allowing for faster recovery than the original ablative devices but more intense results than the nonablative fractional laser. The hole-punching fires up the body’s wound-healing response, which generates collagen and smooths wrinkles. It’s ablative and therefore riskier for patients of color, but can be executed successfully at a doctor’s office.

    How it feels: Typicaly performed with local anesthesia similar to what you’d get in a dentist’s office. After 15 minutes of post-treatment discomfort and an application of ice packs, pain is minimal. For 24 to 36 hours, skin oozes, bleeds and peels, followed by five days of crustiness. Once crust peels, new, pink skin emerges and makeup can be worn; complete healing within two weeks.

    Price: $1,500 to $5,000

    Efficacy/Results: Average to good.

    Nonablative Fractional Resurfacing

    Non-ablative simply means that your skin will not actually be resurfaced, i.e. top layer of the skin, aka epidermis, will remain intact.

    Used for: Smoothing fine-to-moderate lines, evening out brown/age spots, and improving overall texture and glow.

    Downtime: typically none, but the skin may be red for a couple of days.

    How it works: The laser penetrates deep into the skin, heats and provides controlled thermal injury to the connective tissue, which stimulates collagen production. No oozing no raw skin. It’s typically performed over a course of three to five 25-minute treatments, one to two months apart. This procedure is safe for darker skin types.

    How it feels: like the heat is building up in your skin, but no pins and needles. May feel like a bad sunburn for a few minutes after the procedure is over; afterward, skin is pink and sandpapery for three to five days but can be camouflaged with concealer.

    Price: $600 to $1200 per treatment depending on the actual laser modality and doctor.

    Efficacy/Results: Average to good depending on a number of treatments.

    Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

    Used for: Eliminating brown spots and other sun-induced discoloration and spot-treating broken capillaries. No effect on wrinkles.

    How it works: IPL devices are not lasers, unlike lasers they emit a broad spectrum of light. Short pulses of bright white light pinpoint brown pigment cells and redness, which are damaged when they absorb the light and the heat it creates. Safe for most skin types, but a doctor may dial down intensity for darker skin tones to avoid slim risk of de-pigmentation.

    How it feels: Like a sunburn. Patients experience slight swelling and pinkness the day of the procedure, but there’s no downtime, which is why it’s often categorized as a “lunchtime” treatment.

    Price: $400 to $600 per treatment.

    Efficacy/Results: Average and multiple treatments are required.

    Nationwide, a growing number of people are turning to cosmetic procedures to put their best face forward as they look for a job – or try to hold on to the one they have. A survey of physicians by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed that 75 percent of them said they had treated patients who requested facial plastic surgery to stay competitive in the workplace.

    ”Youth is becoming more and more emphasized in the workplace,” said Dr. Steven Pearlman, past president of the organization.  “The seasoned experts, once pictured in ads with lots of wrinkles, have been replaced by young go-getters with multiple degrees and the appearance of boundless energy.” Read the whole story published by Miami Herald.

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  • Filed under: CURRENT NEWS, Market | consumers
  • Dysport is a New Botox

    Injectable treatments for wrinkles go hand in hand with laser treatments and we continue our coverage of this field as it is of interest to all aesthetic physicians offering laser treatments.

    Dysport is an acetylcholine release inhibitor and a neuromuscular blocking agent, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late April 2009. Dysport has similar properties as the popular BOTOX Cosmetic®, which has been used in the U.S. since 2001. Dysport is approved for the temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe glabellar lines (vertical lines between the eyebrows) in adults younger than 65 years of age.

    The active substance in Dysport is a botulinum neurotoxin type A complex, which acts at the level of the neuromuscular junction in the targeted muscle. Dysport is a neuromuscular blocking toxin which acts to block acetylcholine release at motor nerve ends and reduces muscular spasm. As our skin becomes less elastic over time, repeated frowning creates visible lines and wrinkles. Dysport and BOTOX that relax the muscles by blocking nerve impulses. Once the muscles are at rest, the skin becomes smoother, creating a more natural and relaxed appearance.

    Although only recently approved for use in the United States, Dysport has been used in patient care in the United Kingdom since 1991, and has marketing authorizations in 27 countries for aesthetic use.

    According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over 10 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2008, 83% of which represented nonsurgical procedures. Injections of botulinum toxin type A have been the number one nonsurgical cosmetic procedure for the past five years, with over 2.4 million total procedures in 2008 alone.

    It is still unclear whether Dysport is better than Botox. The major advantage of Dysport may be the price. Botox is not cheap: about $500. Dysport is about 20 percent less expensive than Botox, and that could be a potential savings for some people of over $100 a treatment.

    Doctors warned both Botox and Dysport do have risks and should be only be used in healthy patients, who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Potential complications include temporary eyelid drooping, headache and resistance to the medication.

    Both products are not perfect when it comes to meeting the most desired feature of a dream cure: neither Botox nor Dysport last long.

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  • Filed under: Dermal Fillers
  • How Much does the Laser Hair Removal Cost?

    Laser hair removal is a very mature market in the U.S. and costs do not vary dramatically for comparable types of facilities.

    There are clinics and franchises that specialize exclusively in laser hair removal. Typically these facilities provide a high level of safety, customer satisfaction and long lasting results. However, since the actual procedures are not administered by a doctor, you should check the track record of the specific facility and the technician who will work with you.

    There are fly-by-night medspas, which can offer the lowest price and the highest risk. These are typically operated by aestheticians. A medical doctor would sign off their charts without actually seeing the patient. More due diligence is required before you can accept their offer.

    Many physician’s offices have started offering laser hair removal as an add-on ancillary service. Treatments are usually done by physicians and carry the lowest level of risk for the patient. The physician’s fees may be on a higher side, but doctors realize the spectrum of risk and appreciate the value of their license, so they can (and they should) command a higher fee.

    You can get a good idea of the laser hair removal costs by reviewing the following useful resources:

    Interactive map of LHR costs

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  • Filed under: LT | hair removal
  • How Much Does IPL Treatment Cost?

    IPL treatments are very popular due to the long history of use, large installed base and recent technological advances. You will find an IPL in many medical aesthetic practices. How much does a treatment costs? Depends on a treatment.

    Here is a good source of opinions shared by actual patients who have had one or more types of IPL treatments:

    Interactive map of IPL treatment costs

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  • Filed under: Laser Treatments
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