While 55-year-old Katherine Zuniga lives a healthy lifestyle, she has a cosmetic issue that diet and exercise don't seem to help -- a slight sagging in her neckline.
"I just want to see a more slender look here," Zuniga said. "I don't want to see this little pouch that I've got right now."
To tighten that pouch, she's chosen a technique known as the "Inside-Out Neck Lift."
In her office in San Francisco, Dr. Sheena Kong will use a slender laser combined with liposuction to reshape the neck without traditional surgery.
"The name implies the neck is being tightened and lifted from the inside out," Dr. Kong said. "We use a laser fiber, we introduce the laser fiber inside the neck area, and melt the fat there and we tighten the skin."
Katherine will be awake for the procedure, which requires only local anesthetic.
First, Dr. Kong makes three small incisions in her neck, then guides the laser underneath the skin. An assistant monitors the temperature of the device, which is calibrated to heat a targeted area without damaging surrounding tissue.
"That reverse wavelength has an affinity for fat," Dr. Kong said. "Melts the cells and minimizes bruising."
The device, manufactured by Cynosure, combines a version of "Smartlipo" to remove the fat in the same area where the collagen is being heated.
"The result of that is that the patient will make more collagen," Dr Kong said. "In the next few weeks patients will see a tightening of the skin and a lifting of the neck."
Before and after photos capture the results of the two stage process. Dr. Kong says patients typically wear a compression pack for the first two nights to minimize swelling, and then wait several weeks to see the ultimate benefit.
Still, Zuniga noted a difference in her neckline immediately after the procedure, "I'm amazed, everything in that problem area is gone," she said.
The procedure costs roughly $2,500 to $3,000 and is not covered by insurance. Patients taking blood thinners or even regular aspirin doses for heart conditions may not be good candidates for the outpatient procedure.
written and produced by Tim Didion