Can Robots Perform Plastic Surgery?
Posted by Dr. Sam Rizk November, 11/17/2016 - 04:25 PM
Facial plastic surgeons have always relied on technology for greater precision and safety. In recent years, technological advances have made cosmetic facial surgery even safer and more precise. Robot-assisted surgery is one such advancement.
Examples of Recent Technological Advancements in Plastic Surgery
One of the most important advances affecting the field of facial plastic surgery to come along in recent years is the use of endoscopes for facial rejuvenation procedures.
Another recent development is the use of radiofrequency for the removal of damaged tissue and to create smoother, softer skin.
Growth and innovation in laser technology has allowed facial plastic surgeons to achieve wonders through treatments such as skin resurfacing. Some surgeons now use carbon dioxide lasers in lieu of dermabrasion to treat wrinkles around the mouth and eyelids with minimal damage to the skin. Lasers are also useful for tattoo removal and for the treatment of certain vascular lesions.
And skin grafts can be used for any number of purposes, such as to cover areas where skin is missing, or in areas where skin has sustained damage as a result of the aging process or other factors. (Skin graft procedures take healthy skin from one area of the body to restore other areas.)
As a result of these and other technological advancements — including robot-assisted surgery — facial plastic surgery and other elective surgeries continue to grow in popularity.
What Is Robot-assisted Surgery?
Robot-assisted surgery is just what it sounds like: any surgery performed with the aid of robotics. It is used most often for minimally invasive surgeries, i.e. those performed using very small incisions.
It is also being used to perform certain surgeries remotely. In the U.S. robots are also often used for hysterectomies, bariatric procedures, hernia repair, and most prostate removals.
How Can Robot-assisted Surgery Benefit Doctors?
Robotic technology enables doctors to perform numerous types of complicated surgeries with increased flexibility, precision and control. Many doctors also feel that performing some procedures with the help of robots reduces fatigue.
Technology manufacturers continue to work on advancements to make robots more cost-effective, more flexible and better able to assist surgeons in performing new forms of surgery.
While surgical robots are still expensive and require continual maintenance, most of the best hospitals in the United States use them for cancer surgery, gynecological procedures, gastroenterological surgery and other procedures. Robot-assisted surgery is often prominently displayed in the marketing materials of these hospitals in order to attract more patients, and many young doctors are now trained in the use of robots for surgery.
Will Robots Take Over Plastic Surgery? Dr. Rizk Weighs In.
Many surgeons believe that robots have a long way to go. Nonetheless, their use in surgical applications continues to grow worldwide.
According to at least one survey, more than a third of surgeries performed in the U.S. will involve the use of robots within five years. This is more than twice the current rate. Many of these procedures will likely be performed entirely with robots; in other words, the surgeon will monitor and control the procedures from a computer. And the growth of robot-assisted surgery may be even more pronounced in developing and emerging markets.
The predicted growth of robot-assisted surgery as well as the drawbacks of current robotic systems have led to considerable attention from large, wealthy global companies such as Google, Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson.
However, many surgeons still have their reservations. For example, some cite the fact that robot-assisted surgery is more time-consuming than conventional surgery. Other surgeons have noted that they would like to see robots with improved camera capabilities and the ability to feel body tissues remotely.
Newer robotic systems will need to address these concerns and show better results than existing techniques such as laparoscopic surgery. Next-generation robots will also have to be priced lower to attract business from hospitals and surgery centers that haven’t made the investment thus far.
For the time being, robots cannot replace a human surgeon in the operating room. In fact, it is unlikely that robots will ever completely replace the skill, training and artistry of a qualified, board-certified facial plastic surgeon.
To learn more about the use of robots in facial plastic surgery, contact the office of Dr. Sam Rizk today.
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