Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- There is new technology on the market that can lift your face, reduce wrinkles or make your body thinner and tighter, while reducing cellulite.
It may sound too good to be true, but doctors say they have the studies to prove it works.
Kathy, who did not want to give her last name, is in her 50s, teaches yoga, and has always put importance on health.
"I've always been taking care of me since I was young. I've always been taking care of myself. I've been going to the gym since I was a teenager," she said.
And knowing that it's sun damage that makes the skin look bad or old, she stopped sunbathing. She has not gotten into cosmetic procedures yet, but when new technology hit the market, allowing her skin to look firmer, tighter and smoother without any pain, any needles or healing time, she thought it was a perfect match.
"I look in the mirror and I notice myself. I do notice that it is a little tighter and smoother," Kathy said, pointing to her neck and jaw line that has been treated four times.
What Kathy didn't like was the sagging around her jowls, so she turned to the new Exilis.
"It feels fine. Actually I could close my eyes and take a nap. It's nice. It feels warm. There's no problem. I mean, it was really quick and easy," she said, describing what the treatments felt like.
The before and after pictures tell the story. Exilis is radiofrequency, but it's an updated version of the technology that first came out years ago.
There is no pain, no need for anesthesia and the risk of burns or complications such as dimpling, dents and divots, has been resolved.
The Exilis uses a lower energy level and is much safer. Its special energy flow is very controlled and uniform, always going down the same level in the skin.
It is FDA cleared for wrinkles and overall texture and skin tone. It works well tightening skin on the jaw line, midface, eye area, and forehead.
But already doctors are using it off label (not approved yet by the FDA) for fat reduction, skin tightening on the body and cellulite improvement, using it on the abdomen, arms, buttocks and thighs, knees and even ankles to slim what some call "cankles."
New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo started using the Exilis on patients such as Kathy in December.
"It's an option for people who want a little bit of a brow lift and who do not want any kind of surgery and do not want any kind of needles. We're using it on the abdomen for people who have very loose skin as a result of child bearing or extreme weight loss, and they have loose skin. We're using it on arms to tighten loose skin on the arms, the loose skin above the knees. It has a myriad of applications," Lupo said.
Board certified dermatologist Dr. Margaret Weiss is an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Her clinic was among the first in the U.S. to try the Exilis and to gather data on patient results.
"If you take measurements of a body area, like the waist, the flanks, the thighs, the arms and then you compare those measurements after four treatments over a two-month period, then people are seeing significant reductions, which is exciting," Weiss said.
A mother of three tried it on the lax post-pregnancy belly skin.
"The skin just immediately tightened and then still continued. You could feel it still tightening days after," said Thais Chanove, who works in Lupo's office and has only had her first treatment.
Doctors say you not only see immediate results, but the full effects four to six months later.
"The way radiofrequency works is it really causes two things: It causes an immediate contraction of the collagen bundles, which is why you often times see that sort of immediate wow effect, that immediate lift," said Patricia Farris, a dermatologist in practice in Metairie and the spokesperson for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
"But it's really the long term generation of collagen that gives us that longer term effect," Farris said. "So you get a nice wow effect with that collagen contraction and then a much slower and progressive improvement in skin tone and texture due to collagen production."
Slidell dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth McBurney, of LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane, said they have done some "very interesting studies."
"They have done ultrasounds on the skin and have actually shown that the fat has decreased, very little, but it has decreased and they have shown that," she said. "They have also done studies that have shown that there is definitely skin tightening, and when they've treated, like, around the edge of the arm and they've measured the circumference before and after a series of treatments, they've shown that it's smaller."
Weiss said she's tried it on her face for skin tightening and inner thighs for circumference reduction and noticed the difference. And unlike lasers, the good news is that this new device can be used in all men and women.
"This technology is perfect for all skin types because it is a color blind technology because of the energy flow control and the cooling mechanisms, the epidermis and where the skin pigment is, is protected so you can use this on all ethnic groups," Dr. Lupo added.
Of course you will not get results that rival surgery, such as face lifts or liposuction, but for people like Kathy who want no downtime, the Exilis is the easiest trip to the doctor she's ever had.
"You could walk right out of the office and go out and go to work or wherever you want," she said.
Four treatments are recommended for best results. The total cost for all four treatments, for a section of the face or body, runs around $1,400.
Editor's note: Dr. Patricia Farris is no relation to Medical Reporter Meg Farris.