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Minimally Invasive Procedures, Think Result: Downtime Ratio

For the past 5-10 years, there has been a substantial push towards minimally invasive plastic surgery procedures. It seems like every week, a new device or procedure is being heralded by the media as the next big thing. With all the options available, patients are often overwhelmed with their choices and can have a hard time deciding what is best for them.

Facts You Need to Know About Minimally Invasive Procedures

From the standpoint of the physician, here are some basic facts.

  • There is a saying in surgery: “minimal procedure, minimal results.” With rare exception, that statement holds true. Another way of phrasing it is “minimal recovery, minimal results” since recovery and result do typically go together.
  • Most new treatments do not have a track record of success beyond pilot studies or industry-sponsored studies that were used to obtain FDA approval for the device or product. Most treatments are only well understood after a large cohort of patients has been treated.  Remember thread lifts? Remember mesotherapy (fat melting injections)?
  • On rare occasions, a new treatment emerges that exceeds all expectations: Think Botox.
  • The critical factor in making recommendations is to know your patient. If the patient understands the different options, has appropriate expectations, and their anatomy lends itself to the result satisfying that goal, then it is a good recommendation. If not, then disappointment is likely the only outcome.

An additional factor in these decisions is always cost. Just like recovery and result, cost SHOULD be in line with the ratio, meaning minimal recovery: minimal result: minimal cost. The problem is that new treatments are always more expensive than old treatments, so usually, the ratio initially goes minimal: minimal: medium. Over time it typically corrects itself, depending on the degree of the result achieved in most patients.

The Best Anti-Aging Cosmetic Procedure

In the end, there is no right answer to what treatment is right for you. The truth is that most treatments work. However, if you want a substantial change without significant recovery or surgery, then it is unlikely you will find that golden option. The reason that Botox and fillers are so immensely popular is that they break that mold. You can have very substantial outcomes with almost no significant downtime using those products.  Fraxel laser treatments are also popular because they have a medium: the medium ratio of the result to downtime. Non-invasive skin tightening treatments are improving all the time and have begun to approach that same medium: medium level of Fraxel, but only in the properly selected patients.

So what to do?

Generally speaking, if you wait before having a new treatment at least 6-12 months, then there will be a track record to evaluate the procedure better. There will be online reviews as well as the doctor’s own personal experience with the treatment to help guide you. There will be more before: after photos for you to look at and a general sense of what it does well and also what it doesn’t. If you remember the ratio, know yourself, and have a doctor that you trust, then you will probably make the right choice.


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