Creating One Language to Speak about Light- and Energy-Based Technologies for Aesthetic Procedures

New York, NY  – “No downtime.” “Moderate redness.” “Minimal bruising.” When it comes to the many light- and energy-based devices used for aesthetic procedures from hair removal to body contouring, what do these claims really mean? Lacking a standard terminology that truly captures aesthetic concepts, plastic surgeons, patients, and device marketers may be talking about very different things even when using the same words to describe the outcomes of cosmetic procedures that employ energy- and light-based tools. 

To promote a more fair, standardized, and impartial discourse about these devices, the Light- and Energy-Based Therapies Subcommittee of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) has begun to more precisely define standard terms and develop recommendations for device manufacturers—such as the use of standardized lighting, patient positioning and labeling for before and after images—to help physicians and patients better evaluate the different technologies. This initiative is discussed in “Back to Basics: Understanding the Terminology Associated With Light- and Energy-Based Technology,” an editorial available online ahead of print in the November 2011 issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal

“Our goal is to facilitate a baseline for communication about light- and energy-based technologies in the aesthetic realm,” said Michael I. Kulick, MD, Chair of the Light- and Energy-Based Therapies Subcommittee. “We hope that manufacturers will begin to incorporate the subcommittee’s definitions and recommendations into their collateral and marketing efforts, which we believe will help facilitate acceptance of their respective devices and allow physicians to more readily understand their claims.”

The Subcommittee has developed standard definitions for some of the most common terms used in marketing light- and energy-based devices for aesthetic procedures, particularly terms used to describe the recovery process. For example, the definitions describe how to define the different degrees of swelling, bruising, and pain, from “essentially none” to “significant.” Other terms will be added to the list as the Subcommittee moves forward to develop a full and comprehensive nomenclature. 

“It’s important that everyone clearly understands definitions when talking about the outcomes of energy- and light-based aesthetic procedures, whether you are a patient, physician or device manufacturer,” said Foad Nahai, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Aesthetic Surgery Journal. “The burden to sort through all of the competing claims currently rests on the physicians. This initiative will help patients and physicians realistically understand the claims associated with the many different devices in this growing field, and allow plastic surgeons to make more informed decisions about incorporating new devices into their practices.”

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.