Ellacor is a new technology that is generating a lot of excitement in our practice and among our patients. This is the first system of its kind for removing skin without surgery to treat moderate and severe wrinkles of the mid and lower face. Reducing wrinkles is also a major motivator for patients interested in face and neck lift procedures (it’s called “rhytidectomy” for a reason)—so will this technology replace surgery?  The short answer is a definitive “no,” BUT these procedures may be complementary in many situations.

The Ellacor system can remove up to 8% of skin over its treatment area. This is done by creating micro-cores with a needle to remove tiny columns of skin—so small that the skin does not create a scar reaction. That’s the magic: skin removal without scars. This means that up to 2 square inches of skin surface area can be removed in a single session. In real terms, that’s greater than the size of a US quarter on each side of the face.

By comparison, more skin than that is removed with a facelift, but a facelift is not necessarily appropriate for everyone with wrinkles. Until now, a spectrum of alternative treatments like energy-based devices have been used to smooth the skin in such situations. However, minimally invasive treatments and energy-based skin tightening devices may fall short. For patients in this “in-between zone,” Ellacor can be a powerful bridge to span the gap between energy-based skin tightening treatments and facelift surgery.

Even for patients who have enough skin laxity where a facelift is the best option to treat jowls and sagging cheeks, the best facelift result may still have its own shortcomings. Wrinkles around the mouth are particularly difficult to treat because a facelift does not smooth out the skin in the perioral area. Traditionally, ablative laser resurfacing, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and other methods have been used to try to reduce these wrinkles, but those treatments are not great for everyone or may have certain drawbacks that patients wish to avoid. One of the most appealing uses of Ellacor is for treating wrinkles around the mouth. This is where things get interesting. By undergoing a facelift and Ellacor in conjunction, a more comprehensive approach can be taken by applying the best of both treatments to the whole face. This is just one example of how technology and surgery may be used together.

Finally, patients who have had facelifts in the past and are noticing the toll of time on their skin once again may be interested in Ellacor rather than revision facelift surgery. Sometimes it isn’t feasible to undergo general anesthesia for a facelift, or the calendar is too busy for the downtime that is required. The appeal of a treatment like Ellacor is that you can undergo this procedure in the office under local anesthesia and barely miss a beat of your normal routine. You can also undergo the procedure multiple times if necessary for you to reach your desired endpoint. Those square inches can really add up!

The question will inevitably arise as to whether undergoing this procedure will complicate future efforts for facial surgery. (Will I still be able to have a facelift in the future?) The depth of the micro-cores are only skin deep (up to 4-mm), so we do not expect to see scarring or any issues under the skin (in the surgical planes) that would necessarily preclude surgery. Nevertheless, it is always important to remain vigilant and watchful for potential drawbacks with new technologies. If you have a history of Ellacor, it will be necessary to share this information with your surgeon so that safe and informed decisions can be made based on your individual circumstances.

Although Ellacor is currently indicated for use on the midface and lower face, this is a brand-new technology that will likely expand its indications very rapidly in innovative ways. Botox was initially only FDA-approved for very limited use (rare eye muscle disorders), but it is now used for innumerable purposes. The story of Ellacor will very likely follow a similar path—after all wrinkles don’t appear only on the face. We are constantly searching for ways to deliver the absolute best outcomes for our patients, and Ellacor promises to be a game-changer in the ways it can be used as a standalone technology or to enhance our state-of-the-art surgical techniques.

Meet Our Doctors

Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel

Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel

With special expertise in all aspects of facial plastic surgery, and a particular skill for revision surgery, it’s clear why Dr. Spiegel is one of the most celebrated facial plastic surgeons in the world. If you are seeking the best possible results, or have a uniquely challenging problem, you’ve found the right doctor.

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Dr. Onir L. Spiegel

Dr. Onir L. Spiegel

Dr. Onir (pronounced “oh-near”) has years of experience in facial aesthetics and treats some of the most recognizable and famous faces. Dr. Onir started her career in oral health, earning doctorate degrees from both New York University and Boston University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her cutting-edge medical research as well as her technical skills in dentistry.

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Dr. Jacob Tower

Dr. Jacob Tower

A board-certified specialist in facial plastic surgery, Dr. Jacob Tower brings a thoughtful approach and an artistic eye to New England’s premier plastic surgery practice, The Spiegel Center in Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to being an in-demand surgeon, Dr. Tower is an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, a sought-after lecturer, and an expert in facial plastic surgery.

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