Can This New FDA-Cleared Technology Rival a Facelift Without Surgery?

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Can This New FDA-Cleared Technology Rival a Facelift Without Surgery? featured image
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Back in early 2019, news of a major innovation called Micro-Coring created quite the buzz in the aesthetic world for touting skin-tightening and anti-aging benefits rivaling a facelift, but without surgery. However, it was still too new for potential patients to get excited because the company working on the proprietary technology behind the scenes, Cytrellis, had yet to receive its clearance from the FDA (a critical step in order to move forward with the launch of any new aesthetic treatment).

Fast-forward to this week, and the time has finally come: Cytrellis just received the green light for the device, which it’s named the ellacor system with Micro-Coring technology, and will be marketing as a minimally invasive method for reducing moderate-to-severe wrinkles in the mid and lower face.

Based on the initial research and forward-thinking of its founders, Boston plastic surgeon William G. Austen, Jr., MD, and dermatologist Rox Anderson, MD (he invented CoolSculpting), Cytrellis was able to bring this innovative idea to life. “The novel system [the first of its kind] can remove as much skin as some surgical procedures without scarring,” says Dr. Austen, Jr. It’s also an alternative to some energy-based ablative lasers that require significant downtime in exchange for skin tightening.

So how does it work? According to New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, the device uses hollow needles to remove full thickness micro cores of dermal and epidermal tissue, resulting in an improved appearance of wrinkles and a reduction in sagging skin associated with aging. “It does this under local anesthesia without scarring and a faster healing time—about three days—than many energy-based procedures. It reduces excess skin by about 5 to 10 percent, but you don’t have any scarring, so if you do it 10 times, you’ve removed 30 percent of skin. If you start young and do this over time, it could greatly reduce the need for a facelift later on. It could really be huge.”

For those wondering if the treatment is similar to microneedling, it is not, though it’s totally understandable to assume such when you hear “micro” and “needles” in the same sentence. “Microneedling doesn’t take out any skin,” says Dr. Day. “Micro-Coring does create channels in the skin, so it’s like a microneedle, but microneedles aren’t hollow with the goal of creating a hole in the skin like a cookie cutter. When you push it through the skin, the skin goes into the hole, or hollow of the needle.”

The holes are teeny, teeny tiny, but just the right size to work without leaving a visible scar. “In studies, Micro-Coring didn’t produce any discernible scar clinically, or even histologically, so then they did a biopsy of the skin, and they found that even looking under a microscope, you couldn’t find any damaged collagen—there was no scarring at all,” Dr. Day explains. 

However, La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD says it’s important to note that this treatment is not a substitute for a facelift because it does not manipulate the facial musculature the way surgery does, which is often necessary to achieve a more youthful result overall (rather than solely tightening the skin). Either way, it’s a significant innovation for the aesthetic community and we can’t wait to learn more.

Eugene, OR plastic surgeon Mark Jewell, MD agrees. “I looked at this device, and I believe it only addresses skin laxness, not the supporting SMAS layer that supports the skin. Facial aging is complex from a biomechanical perspective, as the skin ages differently that the underlying SMAS. Skin tightening with laser, radio-frequency or threads does not produce a lasting effect. It takes deep layer tightening of the SMAS as part of a comprehensive facial rejuvenation process, and tightening of the skin is of lesser importance. SMAS tightening can be achieved with surgery or Ultherapy on the 4.5 millimeter depth.”

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