SkinDeep: What are the hottest minimally invasive procedures today?

By Taylor Arnold

By now most of us have heard of Botox andfacelifts, and some of us may even be familiar with the various lasertreatments available today. But with so many medical spas touting the latestand greatest in anti-aging treatments, it can be tough to know what’s what.Read on as we round up this season’s best minimally invasive procedures and getthe latest information from the experts at some of the city’s top medical spas.




•     The claim: Reduces wrinkles and looseskin for a more youthful appearance.

•     How it works: Alaser skin tightening device emits a single wavelength of light that heats thedermis, stimulating fibroblasts to produce collagen. New collagen productioncauses improvements in skin tone, texture, and tightening of the skin.

•     What to expect: You’ll feelgentle pulses of heat during the procedure, but the heat fades almostimmediately following treatment. This is a no downtime so patients may resumenormal activity immediately after treatment. Most patients require four tosix sessions spaced about four weeks apart.

•     Cost: Starts at $150 per session, depending on thearea treated

•     Where to find it: Blue Water Spa, Raleigh

•     What the experts say: “We now find that it [GentleYAG]can be very beneficial as an adjunct to other treatments,” says Dr. Michael Lawof Blue Water Spa. “For instance, Zeltig's CoolSculpting Complete is anon-invasive fat removal device that actually freezes fat and removes incheswith no down time. Very often, people who are interested in losing inches alsowant to tighten up areas of concern, and the GentleYAG is an ideal complementto the Zeltig CoolSculpting Complete Treatment.”




•     The claim: The gold standard forreducing wrinkles, scars and blemishes, and improving aged or sun-damaged skin.

•     How it works: Your esthetician uses alaser that sends short beams of light into the skin to remove the outer layer,or the epidermis. When the treated area heals, the new layer of skin thatappears is smoother and firmer.

•     What to expect: Treatment time is typically45 minutes, and any discomfort is minimal. Some patients see hyperpigmentation(brown spots) that peel off in about 10 days. Avoid the sun for a day or twofollowing treatment, as you will be more sensitive to developing a burn. Mostpatients need between three and five treatments at four-week intervals.

•     Cost: $299 per session

•     Where to find it: Glo de Vie, North Hills,Raleigh

•     What the experts say: “This treatment is best to doin the winter because sun exposure should be limited afterward,” says AmandaGallagher, owner and nurse practitioner at Glo de Vie. “It’s a very popularprocedure because there is no social downtime, and you can even do it on yourlunch hour.”


MicroLaser Peels


•     Theclaim: Thesafer alternative to a chemical peel, or “the weekend peel.”

•     How it works: Youresthetician uses a laser that sends short beams of light into the skin toremove the outer layer, or the epidermis. When the treated area heals, the newlayer of skin that appears is smoother and firmer.

•     What toexpect:Immediately after the procedure, your skin may become red and irritated, but anysigns of the treatment should be gone after about three days. Most peoplerequire one to four treatments spaced six to eight weeks apart, depending onthe condition of their skin.

•     Thecost: $300and up per treatment.

•     Where to find it: The Museum Spa & LaserCenter, Raleigh

•     Whatthe experts say: “The procedure is individuallytailored to the nature of the condition being treated,” says Judie Mapoma, spadirector at the Museum Spa & Laser. “It is gentle enough to treat thedelicate skin around the lips, eyes, mouth, chest, neck and hands. A microlaser peel offers a minimal recovery time of three to six days, so you can havethe procedure on a Friday and look years younger by Monday.”




•     The claim: Safely firms, tightens and lifts skin without disrupting the surface.

•     Howit works: The procedure works by heating and therefore damaging theweakened collagen creating an injury response, which creates brand newtightened collagen lifting the entire face.

•     What to expect: One session lasts two tofive years. Ultherapy can treat the whole face or individual areas.

•     Cost: $2,900 for the entire face. Pricing forindividual areas varies.

•     Where to find it: Pure Medical Spa, Raleighand Cary 

•     What the experts say: “Ninety-five percent ofclients see a response in three to six months,” says Dr. Melanie Lutz of PureMedical Spa. “Thirty to 40-year-olds see results in one to three months, while50 to 70-year-olds usually need six months to see them. Five percent of clientsare what we call "non-responders" and can be retreated if need be.”




•     The claim: The solution to cellulitereduction and body reshaping.

•     How it works: After you receive a localanesthetic (or general anesthesia if you prefer), a very small laser-tippedcannula (surgical wand) is inserted directly into the targeted area of fat. Asthe laser dissolves fat cells, your surgeon will gently guide the cannula backand forth through the fat layer. In addition to treatment of fat deposits, thelaser’s energy heats the dermis, causing collagen to contract and the skin totighten.

•     What to expect: Treatment takes one to twohours depending on the number of areas. Most patients can return to work thefollowing day after treatment, but expect to wear compression garments for twoweeks following the procedure. Only one session is typically needed.

•     Cost: Pricing varies depending in the area treated, but theaverage cost is between $3,000 and $4,000.

•     Whereto find it: BodyLase Skin Spa, Raleigh and Cary

•     Whatthe experts say: “SmartLipo is better than traditionalliposuction because there is no general anesthesia and smaller incisions, whichmeans less bruising and no scarring,” says Karen Albright, president ofBodyLase Skin Spa. “The results are fairly permanent because once youphysically remove fat cells, it is really difficult to gain weight again inthat area.”


EndovenousLaser Ablation (EVLA)


•     Theclaim: Apermanent solution for the removal of varicose veins.

•     How it works: A laser is threaded into thecatheter and heats the lining of the vein. Then it is slowly pulled out of thevein, damaging it and causing it to shrink and seal shut. Once thishappens, blood can no longer flow through the vein, eliminating the pressure inthe vein that caused it to bulge.

•     What to expect: One session of EVLA can lastfrom 30 minutes to two hours, and a topical anesthetic gel is used to numb anypain. You may experience some mild soreness and bruising in the weekfollowing the procedure, but there is no incision other than a small puncturewhere the catheter was inserted.

•     Cost: Pricing ranges depending on the number ofsessions required, but insurance sometimes covers this treatment.

•     Where to find it: VeinCare of North Carolina

•     Whatthe experts say: “Every patient is different,” says Dr.Jane Smith, medical director of VeinCare of North Carolina. “It depends on howmany veins are abnormal and need treatment. One patient may have three veins oneach leg that are abnormal and require EVLA treatment for a total of six lasertreatments. Another patient may have just one vein that needs treatment, sothey will have one laser. If the treatment is done thoroughly in the firstseries of treatments and the patient is followed closely for the first year(three, six and 12 month visits), and then seen for re-evaluations yearly, theveins treated should never come back.”




•     The claim: Freeze your fat away with no surgery ordowntime.

•     How it works: Usinga process called cryolipolysis, this non-surgical fat reduction technologyapplies targeted cold to small areas of unwanted fat. The cold temperaturedamages fat cells causing fat to be expelled through the body’s lymphaticsystem.

•     What to expect: Thefirst five minutes of the procedure can be uncomfortable, but there are nopunctures of the skin, no post care garments to be worn and no post procedurepain medicines required. The entire treatment takes about 60 minutes, and manypatients begin to see results within three to four weeks, with 100 percent oftheir results within four to five months. The results from CoolSculptingare permanent as long as the patient maintains their diet and exercise and doesnot gain weight.

•     Cost: $650 to $1200, depending on the area treated.

•     Where to find it: Davis Plastic Surgery, Raleigh

•     What the experts say: Thekey to getting great results is having a certified CoolSculpting specialist toassess your needs and perform your procedure,” says Veronica Wilson, patientcare specialist at Davis Plastic Surgery. “In the 14 months that we have hadCoolSculpting, we have treated over 500 patients. Our patients have had amazingresults. They love that the procedure is so easy and they can relax or work ontheir laptops while they are here.”


Q&Awith Dr. Alan Boehm of Raleigh Foot and Ankle Center


How are lasers used in podiatry?

Inpodiatry, lasers are most often used for toenail fungus, but can be used forwarts and other conditions.


What does laser nail treatmentinvolve?

Ourprocess involves applying a painless laser pulse to thetoenail and surrounding skin to kill fungal elements.To prevent further fungal infection of the feet and nails following treatment,patients are advised to keep their shoes sanitized.


How many sessions does it require?

Theamount of treatment sessions will depend on how severely affected the nails are,but we typically recommend one to twosessions that last 10 to 15 minutes each.


How much does this proceduretypically cost?

Thecost can vary depending on severity of the condition. Typically the costaverages about $500.


What types of results do your patientssee after laser nail treatment?

About80 percent of people will notice clearing of the toenail and improvedappearance. Laser treatment is one of the most effective, and most safe,treatments available for toenail fungus.


For more information visit