Western baby boomers aren’t the only ones getting medical aesthetics procedures such as permanent hair removal, body contouring, and treatment of scars, moles, wrinkles, sagging skin and pigmentation.
Millennials and Gen Zs, as well as Asians, are significantly growing market segments pushing the total value of the medical aesthetics industry toward $30 billion.
So says Shlomo Assa, one of a cadre of Israeli-bred pioneers in energy-based medical aesthetics devices – which account for about 10 percent of this lucrative market space between dermatology and plastic surgery.
While older clients primarily seek to rejuvenate spotted, wrinkled or sagging skin, Assa says, younger people are booking “prejuvenation” treatments as soon as they start seeing fine lines or sun damage.
Many young adults, especially in China, see prejuvenation of their appearance as essential to their career success, Assa explains. And although Chinese skin resists wrinkles for longer than white skin does, it starts getting age spots sooner.
Men constitute yet another growing medical aesthetics patient segment in the areas of body shaping and rejuvenation, adds Shy Zyman, partner in the life sciences arm of Tel Aviv-based Cukierman & Co. Investment House.
Zyman explains that as the market for medical aesthetics expands to more and different populations, there’s an urgent need to better manage the tradeoff between safety and clinical efficacy.
“The industry wants to be as noninvasive as possible, but being noninvasive always brings limits to efficacy,” he says.
“Everyone is trying to allow a bigger percentage of the population to be treated comfortably and efficiently.”
Diverse ages and skintones
Last year, Assa cofounded New England-based Acclaro Medical with Helen Fang to adapt treatment technologies to serve these new patient populations.
“The theory behind all forms of medical aesthetics treatment is to create a controlled injury, which triggers a recovery process that renews the skin,” Assa tells ISRAEL21c.
“Energy devices became very popular over the past 20 years because energy creates a controlled injury with selective targeting. This produces better, faster results. But until now, most devices were built for [treating] white skin.”
For the 70 percent of the world population with non-white skin tones, including Asians, current energy devices pose a greater risk of burning and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Another challenge for device makers is that millennials have less tolerance for pain than do boomers, says Assa.
It’s only natural that Israelis are driving innovations to solve these and other industry challenges. Per capita, Israel ranks first in medical aesthetics device development
Manpower and knowhow
“Israel has been the main founding pillar of the medical aesthetics energy-based device industry, introducing innovative lasers — and then RF [radio frequency], ultrasound and other technologies — to the world several decades ago,” says Zyman.
Zyman notes that four of the world’s top 10 companies in energy-based medical aesthetics devices originated in Israel: Lumenis, Alma Lasers, InMode and Candela (formerly Syneron).
“That says a lot. We have the manpower and knowhow here, as well as the appetite to innovate,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
InMode introduced novel RF-based devices enabling new and improved minimally invasive procedures for skin tightening, contraction, resurfacing and contouring with high efficacy and good safety, says Zyman.
In hair removal, Alma Lasers’ award-winning Soprano devices continuously cool skin for a virtually painless procedure (remember those pain-averse millennials?).
Newcomers Acclaro and LaserTeam are focused on reducing pain and risks in skin rejuvenation and prejuvenation for all ages and skin tones, Zyman says; while Raziel Therapeutics and Cell-Lipo are revolutionizing body shaping.
Raziel’s fat-reduction injectable harnessing the body’s natural healing mechanism is “something that really can bring high efficacy with good safety,” says Zyman.
Cell-Lipo is leading a new trend of fat grafting, where fat removed via liposuction is processed and injected back into the patient as a filler to smooth lines and wrinkles or add volume to lips and cheeks.
2 innovations in 1
Cell-Lipo was established by Alma Lasers founder Ziv Karni, considered the “chief scientist” of the medical laser industry. The startup aims for FDA and CE approval in 2024 for its sterile closed-loop system combining two innovative technologies.
The first technology, laser-assisted liposuction, was invented by Karni to address the problem that fat cells extracted via liposuction don’t work well as filler because 30-40% of the cells die.
“Laser-assisted liposuction spares the life of the fat cells so that they will integrate into the host tissue when injected where needed – for example, for face wrinkles, facial reconstruction or breast augmentation,” Cell-Lipo CEO Ofer Barshem tells ISRAEL21c.
The second technology, a mechanical stem cell isolation device, was invented by Cell-Lipo CSO Nir Shani when he headed the Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery Laboratory at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
This device concentrates SVF (stromal vascular fraction) stem cells from the extracted fat. These cells generate capillaries allowing blood and plasma to reach the center of the injected filler.
“Usually, when you inject a ‘cushion’ of fat under the skin, only the periphery of that cushion gets blood supplied by surrounding tissue, but the middle cells die,” says Barshem. “We solve this by adding a much higher level of SVF stem cells.”
Karni and Assa will join a panel discussion on “High Pace Innovation in Dermatology and Medical Aesthetics” along with Shimon Eckhouse of Alon MedTech Ventures (founder of Lumenis, among others) and Tuvya Klughaupt of Candela at the Biomed Israel international life-science and health-tech conference in Tel Aviv, May 16-18.
Zyman, who’s co-chairing the medical aesthetics panel with his Cukierman & Co. colleague Dr. Laurent Choppe, expects investors will be eager to explore these innovations as the field comes back into its own after the pandemic.
“The medical aesthetics industry in Israel has been, and probably will continue to be, one of the best investments,” Zyman says.
Up and coming
Some other Israeli medical aesthetics startups to watch:
- Kamari (biopharmaceuticals for rare dermatologic diseases and itching);
- Lutris Pharma (improving therapy effectiveness and quality of life for cancer patients being treated with EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitors or radiation;
- MediWound (non-surgical biotherapeutics for tissue repair and regeneration;
- Shulov Innovative Science (anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, analgesic treatments for skin problems ranging from burns to herpes to psoriasis);
- Cherry Imaging (3D facial imaging to identify, evaluate and monitor skin conditions and treatment);
- Hairstetics (minimally invasive hair implants);
- KolorPen (noninvasive delivery of liquid therapeutics to skin);
- Sofwave (wrinkle and cellulite treatment via ultrasonic stimulation of collagen production).