Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Research Briefs: Jan. 19

Feinberg doctor suggests further research to ensure safety of cosmetic procedures

Because consumers of cosmetic dermatology procedures are often minimally informed about the safety and efficiency related to this $10 billion industry, a Northwestern Medicine study looks to review surgery options and identify safe and unsafe procedures, according to a University press release.

Dr. Murad Alam, chief of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery at NU’s Feinberg School of Medicine, led the study, published in the January issue of the Dermatologic Clinics journal.

Alam said the complex procedures used for cosmetic surgery should be better researched.

“Many treatments gaining popularity are novel techniques that use complex devices, such as lasers and ultrasound, but there is sparse research evaluating their long-term effects,” he said in the press release.

There are few procedures that Alam said he finds safe and effective if performed by a qualified individual. Neurotoxins injected to smooth wrinkles, liposuction to remove fat and laser treatment for broken blood vessels, port wine stains and removal of brown spots and hair are all acceptable when done by a board-certified and trained physician, Alam said in the release.

On the other hand, newer procedures such as ultrasounds or infrared lights said to tighten skin, low-level laser fat removal and “super cooling” fat cells have less research behind them and therefore, Alam continued, are less reliable but may still be effective.

All of these newer procedures are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ensuring short term results and safety, but there is no data to explain effects of their long-term use, he said.

Alam said in the release that consumers should be smarter about the physicians they choose to perform the procedure and should also do more research in comparable treatments.

“Selecting the right cosmetic treatment for a patient is not a trivial matter,” Alam said in the release. “Patients should get treatments from experienced practitioners with access to the data and an ability to evaluate it, rather than someone at a nearby spa who just has one laser, is minimally trained and is not able to evaluate the scientific evidence but eager to use this device for every patient complaint.”

Paulina Firozi

NU prof. and Evanston doctor announce cancer breakthrough

Newly released results of a study conducted by a Northwestern professor and a doctor at NorthShore Medical System could prove to be a breakthrough in early detection of cancer.

NU biomedical engineering Prof. Vadim Backman and Hermant Roy, a medical doctor in Evanston, announced this month that trials of less invasive cancer screenings had achieved nearly 90 percent success rates.

“Early detection is probably the only way for us to win the war against cancer,” Backman said in a press release.

The new procedures involve taking swabs of skin cells in and scanning them for signs of lung and colon cancer, the release said.

In addition to being non-invasive, the test allows patients to immediately see results. Currently there are no recommended screening techniques for lung cancer, and colon cancer screenings are often invasive, according to the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health .

“I think if this works, we could really make a big difference in how we treat patients,” Backman said in the release. “We can make a huge impact on population screening.”

Backman and Roy plan to continue their clinical trials before eventually beginning new tests in attempt to detect cervical and ovarian cancer early. Such a breakthrough could allow patients to undergo treatment earlier, which is often less intense and more successful.

– Tom Meyer

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Research Briefs: Jan. 19