Study confirms effectiveness and safety of popular cosmetic procedures

February 8, 2012

Study finds that cost deters many from plastic surgery
Study finds that cost deters many from plastic surgery

A new study, conducted by researchers at the Northwestern University (NU) Feinberg School of Medicine, confirms that some popular cosmetic procedures are both safe and effective when performed by qualified individuals.

The study, which appears in the January issue of the Dermatologic Clinics journal, analyzed 98 studies on cosmetic procedures to make conclusions on some of the most common procedures currently available to consumers.

Those looking to smooth wrinkles should feel safe getting injectables such as Botox, Dysport and other neurotoxins, according to researchers. The study found that injected neurotoxins are both safe and effective.

"These have been around for 20 years and during that entire period, when an approved pharmaceutical product in approved doses is used for cosmetic purposes, there have not been any instances of serious reactions," the lead researcher said.

Other procedures that deliver results that science confirms include liposuction to remove fat and the use of lasers to treat broken blood vessels, port wine stains and rosacea as well as for removing brown spots and unwanted hair.

The study also identified a few procedures that, although effective, have less scientific evidence behind them. They include the use of infrared light or ultrasound devices shrink and tighten the skin, the use of low-level laser light for fat removal and fat "melting" by super cooling the fat cells. These procedures are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the data shows that they work and are safe short term. However, these procedures are newer and therefore less is known about their long-term safety and effectiveness.

Researchers say that it's important for those seeking cosmetic procedures to discuss their options with a licensed, board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

"Selecting the right cosmetic treatment for a patient is not a trivial matter,” doctor’s stressed. "Patients should get treatments from experienced practitioners with access to the data and an ability to evaluate it, rather than someone at a nearby spa who just has one laser, is minimally trained and is not able to evaluate the scientific evidence but eager to use this device for every patient complaint. Experienced physicians can help patients select the treatments that are best for them."

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly 9.5 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2010. 

The mission of the Aesthetic Society includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Aesthetic Society, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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