HIFU: What is this technology and how is it used in medicine and aesthetics?

Since the dawn of humanity, health and disease have been a source of concern for human beings because our survival depends on it. Fortunately, over time medicine has made many technical and technological advances. Among them we find HIFU technology.

It is a technology that may resemble its use aesthetically (especially rejuvenating the face or skin in other parts of the body), but has been shown to be useful in diseases as relevant as cancer. Throughout this article, we will see what this technology is, what it is used for and in which cases it is contraindicated.

    What is HIFU?

    The acronym HIFU refers to technology High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, Spanish High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. It is a type of technique or procedure with applications of great interest in medicine, and is based on the application of sound waves focused and directed specifically to a target area or target, in order to cause death or necrosis of certain cells of living organisms. .

    The operation of this technique bases its effectiveness on the fact that the sound waves, concentrated in an area when they are applied in a beam, end up generating thermal energy that produces hyperthermia in target areas. It also generates mechanical force, in the form of vibration, which allows tissue to be compressed or decompressed.

    This procedure is non-invasive because it does not require surgery or chemical elements, And has the advantage over these that it does not generate damage to the tissues that are between the ultrasound emission site and the target area. It also reduces the risk of infection or the introduction of toxic elements.

    On the other hand, although it is not as powerful as other usual procedures, it can cause burns and may not be useful depending on the area or organ being treated. It should also be noted that its clinical application dates back to the 90s,

    Indications of this technology

    HIFU technology, used as a medical procedure, can have many and varied uses, however the main and most relevant is its use in oncology.

    HIFU can be useful in both benign and malignant tumors, and has been applied to fibroids in different parts of the body, such as the breast or uterus. Also in carcinomas, fibroids, prostate, pancreatic or kidney tumors.

    Its use can occur in solid tumors, and sometimes also in cases of liver metastases. this use it may be an adjunct to other therapies, As a treatment for relapses or even as a palliative treatment.

    It is generally indicated in fibroids, also in case of refusal of transfusions or when surgical resection is not possible. However, there is no excessive data on its level of success, requiring a higher level of research. While some studies to date appear to support effectiveness in treating problems such as prostate cancer, others have certainly not determined its effectiveness. They usually use other techniques, although we may be faced with an interesting alternative.

    Its use in aesthetic medicine

    Secondly, although this is in fact the field in which it is most commonly used in our country, HIFU technology also finds applications in the field of aesthetics. More precisely, sometimes used to reduce sagging and destroy dead cells or even fat cells, Without requiring surgical interventions and with the possibility of acting in different areas of the body.

    Thus, it is used to perform facelift, wrinkle reduction and even liposuction treatments with in principle less risk to the health of the patient. It is often offered in facial rejuvenation procedures.

      Risks and contraindications

      Although it is considered a safe technique because it is minimally invasive, the use of this technology also comes with risks and potential side effects. These include increased or decreased tenderness, edema, bruising or bruising or pain during treatment. too much burns can occur.

      In addition to the above, it should be borne in mind that an increase in temperature is actually generated in specific areas of the body, which can be harmful with certain health problems. If misused, it could lead to thyroid problems or even neurological damage.

      There are also contraindications to take into account. First of all, pregnant women contraindicated the use of this technology. also those people who have autoimmune problems or an impaired or weakened immune system, People with open wounds or coagulation problems, people with fever or hyperthermia.

      Another sector where this technology is contraindicated is that of those who wear implants, whether they are cosmetic (heat can cause their reabsorption or cause serious burns) or doctors as pacemakers (given the risk that sound waves can affect the implant). Neither those who wear metal implants, at least in the area to be treated or near. It is not recommended for acne and is contraindicated in people with kidney failure, severe diabetes or metabolic diseases.

      It is still used in some bone tumors, it is usually a type of tissue in which this technology is not used, as well as in the spinal cord. Nor in areas such as the lungs, stomach or intestines because the gas they contain limits their effect.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Afschin Fatemi, MD. (2016). High intensity centered ultrasound effectively shrinks fatty tissue. Seminars on medicine and skin surgery. Elsevier.
      • Chapelon, JY, Margonari, J. and Vernier, F. (1992). In Vivo Effects of High Intensity Ultrasound on Prostate Adenocarcinoma Dunning R3327. Cancer Res., 52: 6353-6357.
      • Huber, P., Debus, J. and Jenne, J. (1996). Therapeutic ultrasound in tumor therapy: principles, applications and novelties. Radiologists, 36: 64-71.
      • Lledó García, I., Jara Rascón, J., Subirà Rius, D., Herranz Amo, F., Martínez-Salamanca, JI and Hernández Fernández, C. (2005). Current scientific evidence on the utility of high intensity ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment of prostatic adenocarcinoma. Spanish Urological Acts, 29 (2).
      • Sadick, N. and Magro, C. (2007). A study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the VelaSmooth system in the treatment of cellulite. J Cosmet Laser Ther 9: 15-20.

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