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Will robotics drive future of aesthetic medicine?

Article-Will robotics drive future of aesthetic medicine?

Disruptive technologies are starting to change the way aesthetic physicians and patients think about such common treatments as hair removal and noninvasive fat reduction. But these glimpses into the possibilities with robotics and automation are merely the beginning.

A major disruptive transformation will take hold of the industry in the next decade, according to Farhan Taghizadeh, M.D., a Phoenix, Ariz., based facial plastic surgeon who presented on the topic of robotics and aesthetic medicine yesterday at The Aesthetic Show in Las Vegas.

Aesthetic physicians will likely find industry-wide commoditization, as costs for disruptive technologies come down, and the capacity for devices to use artificial intelligence- (AI)-fueled algorithms to perform more complex tasks increases, according to Dr. Taghizadeh.

“With the next generation of sensors and AI algorithms, cheaper robotic arms and advances in the laser, radiofrequency and energy realms, we’re coming to the point at which aesthetics may be becoming automated,” he says.

Truly robotic systems, which take a lot of the work out of human hands, are in the development stage and aren’t yet available for use in aesthetic practices. It’s unlikely that the automation will, at first, impact surgical patients, including those getting facelifts and rhinoplasties, according to Dr. Taghizadeh. 

“What you’re going to see is radiofrequency, microneedling, energy delivery and other energy-based systems tracking and moving along the skin in a very cohesive fashion,” he says. “CoolSculpting is somewhat passive — someone puts a machine on your stomach and walks away. But the machine doesn’t know exactly what it is doing without an operator setting it.  An era is coming when these machines will know what they’re doing.”

Aesthetics is a starting point for many of the big and small companies developing technologies in medicine, including AVRA Medical Robotics, a company focused on aesthetics automation, of which Dr. Taghizadeh is chief medical officer.

The aesthetics industry has huge untapped potential because of cost. Automation with robotics could provide a solution.

Dr. Taghizadeh cites market data from various sources that more than 70 million Americans want access to aesthetic procedures. But only about 8 to 10 million are accessing such procedures, according to according to American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery statistics.

The reason is a tube of filler costs more than most people have in their savings accounts. Aesthetic procedures are simply too expensive for most people, according to Dr. Taghizadeh.

And that’s not the only disconnect. While physicians offering aesthetic procedures tend to strive for meeting all patients’ needs, most people aren’t looking for everything at one time. 

“They’re looking for access to some results,” he says. “The real opportunity lies with providing some outcome at a very affordable price. The economics are not reasonable today, but the push towards automation will make it possible in the next five years.”