4 Outdated Cosmetic Treatments (and What Replaced Them)

Written by WD Staff, Skin Care Specialists on October 24, 2017 No Comments

outdated plastic surgery

The cosmetic industry in the United States is continually evolving. In 2016 alone, over 17.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed, representing a growth of 3% over 2015 (source ASPS 2016 Statistics Report).

One of the biggest influencers of industry growth is the development of innovative, new treatments (such as Coolsculpting) as well as improvements in technology or techniques used in “tried and true” treatments (see our post on the evolution of liposuction). These advancements make cosmetic procedures more effective, less invasive, and/or less expensive.

This progress, however, inevitably makes some treatments obsolete. Here are 4 once popular cosmetic treatments that have been replaced by more modern treatment options:

Traditional Threadlifts

Threadlifting techniques were once highly regarded as the ultimate facelift alternative. Threadlifts use permanent, internal fishhook-like barbs to physically pull excess or sagging skin in order to tighten the face. However, since the sutures were permanent, any hooks that worked their way out of the skin over time led to potential swelling and infection. Any extruded sutures would have to removed, which was potentially a painful process. For these reasons, the FDA removed threadlifts from the market.

Advancements have created Silhouette InstaLift, a more superior alternative that is FDA approved to both tighten and lift the mid-face in certain candidates. The InstaLift procedure uses special biodegradable sutures to reposition drooping mid-face tissue to a more youthful appearing position.  Over time, collagen builds up around the sutures so when they dissolve the effects still linger.

Injectable Collagen

Collagen is an extremely important structural foundation of the skin. Lower collagen levels are synonymous with line and wrinkle development (which is why so many people seek to boost their collagen levels).

Prior to the advent of modern dermal fillers, collagen injections were used to fill wrinkles or plump lips. There were, however, some issues with injecting straight collagen. First, many patients found that they were allergic and broke out in moderate to severe reactions. Additionally, collagen quickly breaks down in the body so the results of collagen injections were short-lived.

Fortunately, collagen injections gave way to a vast amount of great hyaluronic acid dermal fillers like Juvederm (compare fillers with our filler guide). The industry also began to experiment with using fat instead of collagen, setting the stage for today’s fat transfer procedures.


A decade or so ago, electrolysis was an extremely popular hair removal technique. The procedure uses an electric current to destroy hair follicles. Unfortunately, electrolysis was a slow treatment, requiring many successive treatment sessions to achieve results. There were also many unwanted side effects including skin discoloration, ingrown hairs, and scarring.

The industry moved to laser hair removal, a procedure that is both safer and has a higher efficacy rate compared to electrolysis. Read our post comparing laser hair removal vs. electrolysis.


Given that the demand for liposuction is very high, the cosmetic industry began to look for non-surgical alternatives. Liposonix was one of the first devices created. The Liposonix treatment utilized ultrasound technology get rid of fat and contour the body. Unfortunately the results were sub-par and many patients complained that the procedure was quite painful.

Research and development has created vast improvements in non-surgical body contouring. Today’s most popular treatment, CoolSculpting, uses precisely controlled cooling technology to target, cool and eliminate fat cells through a gradual and natural process without causing damage to the surrounding tissue and skin. Learn more about CoolSculpting.


WD Staff

A united group of skin care specialists from Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Austin's leader in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Articles posted under WD staff are authored through combined contributions from our entire team, including Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Aestheticians, Physician Assistants, Aesthetic Nurses, and Patient Coordinators.

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