By Matthew Link
“When I was studying plastic surgery at the U.C.L.A. Medical School, I never dreamed there would be a day where I would place sound waves on a patient’s face and have it tighten the tissue under the skin,” says Dr. Sofonio. “I also never would have expected to ever put a wand on someone’s stomach and have it melt fat. Over the last fifteen years, vast new technologies have increased dramatically. Plastic surgery is booming – even with the recession. Everyone wants to try out these innovative ultramodern technologies. It’s really exciting.”
Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Mark V. Sofonio has served both an internship and residency in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery. Dr. Sofonio also ran the Burn Unit/Wound Care Center at the Medical College of New York, before becoming Section Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the preeminent Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
Even with his depth of knowledge in plastic surgery Dr. Sofonio is amazed at the recent quantum-leap advancements in his field.
“We were chiefly focused on surgical procedures ten or fifteen years ago, but there really haven’t been many new surgery techniques developed since the late 1990s,” explains Dr. Sofonio. “During the last fifteen years, however, we’ve experienced incredible new and groundbreaking nonsurgical technologies, resulting in less invasive procedures that are less expensive with less recovery time.”
“Mind you, surgery always has better and grander results. But my practice has changed from primarily surgery to providing an array of cosmetic procedures.” Dr. Sofonio recently invested over half a million dollars in this innovative, noninvasive technology, and the results have been stunning.
Dr. Sofonio summarizes the dizzying selection of new technologies and treatments into two categories: topical and injectable skin rejuvenation procedures; and minimally-invasive lightwave and soundwave treatments.
TOPICAL SKIN CARE AND INJECTION TREATMENTS THAT REACH BEYOND RETIN-A AND BOTOX
Low-concentration acids like Retin-A and alpha hydroxies were once the go-to prescription for a younger complexion, but in recent years antioxidants have come into their own. Antioxidants boost collagen production and revive age-worn skin. But what Dr. Sofonio is especially excited about is the growth of cosmeceuticals - the combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
“Cosmeceuticals are the future. These topical creams and lotions use new nanotechnology and microscopic particles that penetrate the skin and tighten the muscles underneath. A cosmeceutical that combines Botox with proteins is now in the final stages of FDA approval. We may soon have no need to inject Botox, and these topical treatments will be less expensive as well.”
A rich smorgasbord of injectable neuromuscular blockers has blossomed alongside Botox, such as Dysport and Xeomin. “They all paralyze facial muscles and eliminate frown lines and wrinkles. All are very simple and very safe products.”
Dr. Sofonio also points to the recent emergence of volumizers (also called fillers) that stimulate the skin’s natural collagen production. “Products like Restylane, Juvéderm, Belotero, and Sculptra are very effective and inexpensive, and patients love them because they require very little downtime,” says Sofonio. “I particularly like Radiance, made from crushed coral. Radiance usually lasts longer than other fillers - between one and two years.”
NEW SOUNDWAVE AND LIGHTWAVE TECHNOLOGY TO TIGHTEN AND LIFT DEEP TISSUE
“In the early 1990s, plastic surgeons only had the crudest of lasers at their disposal. Now, there are hundreds of technology machines for all types of treatments. The selection is unbelievable, and it’s changing rapidly.”
Dr. Sofonio’s current state-of-the-art tools include a fractionated CO2 laser, considered the laser gold standard for removal of skin surface spots and marks. Sofonio also utilizes an Intense Pulse Light (IPL), harnessing lightwaves to effectively eliminate sun damage, brown spots, enlarged pores, and other cosmetic concerns. IPL can be used to treat the entire body, and with no downtime.
Three new modalities that transmit heat and energy into the subcutaneous muscle tissue show the most promise of all.
“As these deeper muscle tissues gently heal, they form new collagen and naturally tighten the skin,” states the doctor. “And the surface of the skin itself is barely affected. There’s only mild discomfort and very little downtime, and the results are quite impressive.”
The first of these treatments used radio waves in the form of simple electricity. But three years ago, the FDA approved the trailblazing ultrasound treatment Ulthera.
“Sound travels easily through water, and skin is 70 percent water,” explains Dr. Sofonio. “Ulthera is better technology than radio frequencies — it’s focused, directed, and controlled. There’s no recovery time at all, no risk, no scarring, no nerve damage. More than 70,000 Ulthera treatments have been performed around the world, with no longterm complications reported. People love it.”
Another ultrasound treatment called LipoSonix was also approved by the FDA as a nonsurgical method for fat removal. “LipoSonix uses ultrasound that is about 25 times stronger than Ulthera. The energy penetrates much deeper to melt the fat on the belly, the flanks, wherever you like — all in a single treatment.”
Dr. Sofonio is also very hopeful about the future of microwave technology. “Microwave technology is 98 percent effective, and I believe we’ll see it in a number of future treatments to tighten muscle tissue, even better than the way Ulthera does now.”
The doctor recommends the recently approved MiraDry microwave technology. “With a single noninvasive treatment, MiraDry eliminates sweat and odor from the underarms, with a 98 percent success rate. Imagine no more need for deodorant.”
NEW HOPE FOR EARLY DETECTION OF SKIN CANCERS
If left undetected, melanoma can be the most fatal of all skin cancers. MelaFind is a new non-invasive imaging technology originally developed for guided-missile navigation systems. MelaFind scans deep below the skin’s surface and takes photographs much deeper than the naked eye can see — detecting the early stages of cancerous lesions with a 98 percent accuracy rate.
“This has completely changed how melanoma is diagnosed,” states Dr. Sofonio. “You no longer have to cut out anything suspicious or biopsy it — you can just take pictures. I believe this technology would have probably saved many skin cancer victims in the past.”
Sofonio has also recently introduced the Sensus technology to the desert. The Sensus machine uses SRT-100 low-energy radiotherapy to treat and eliminate basal and squamous cell skin cancers. “It’s a superficial radiotherapy that goes no deeper than the skin, and it’s safe, painless, noninvasive, and leaves no scars, unlike surgical treatments, yet it has a cure rate equal to surgery.”
“With all these new services and new technologies, we plastic surgeons now have the ability to really show off our craft and skill, and enhance people’s lives with simpler, better, faster, and easier treatments,” sums up Sofonio. “And that’s what this is really all about – helping people feel happier and healthier about themselves, and to have a richer life.”
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Drive, Kiewit Building, Suite 407, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270