Andrew Technologies LLC: Tom Albright, Chief Executive Officer

by HCE Exchange on March 7, 2012

With existing technology that can be cumbersome and uncomfortable for both surgeon and patient, the field of liposuction is ripe for innovation and advancement.

Andrew Technologies LLC, established in 2007, is readying a new device known as HydraSolve™ that has the potential to revolutionize this surgical procedure and with it, meet a growing consumer demand for aesthetic body contouring.

The eye of the solution

HydraSolve™ has its roots in ophthalmic technology that was already developed for gentler cataract surgery by the company’s founder, Dr. Mark S. Andrew, and his wife Mylina Lincoln-Andrew.

The Andrews’ cataract technology was acquired by Alcon, the large eye-care company, and launched in 2003 as part of its cataract-surgery offerings in its Infiniti® Vision System. The Andrews’ invention presents a warmed saline-based targeted tissue-liquefaction system for dissolving cataract tissue without breaking down the collateral tissue.

Dr. Andrew then leveraged this same scientific approach from cataract surgery to develop the technology for HydraSolve™.

A goal for growth and data

Tom Albright, chief executive officer of Andrew Technologies since mid-2011, said the company would like to grow the business over the next three years by attracting plastic surgeons who specialize in liposuction to this new and highly efficient device. HydraSolve™  appears to be easier for surgeons to use and gentler on patients than traditional devices.

Andrew Technologies possesses a 510(k) clearance through the FDA, and soon, the product will be made available in a controlled release to selected sites from around the United States. These sites are recognized as leaders in liposuction and plastic surgery. It is Andrew Technologies’ intention to generate clinical data from these selected plastic surgeons, so that experts beyond the company will be able to demonstrate the full clinical utility of HydraSolve™.

By the third quarter of 2012, Andrew is looking to launch the product more broadly in the United States and begin the ROW launch efforts.

Efficient and gentle

Liposuction is a very vigorous surgical treatment, and it requires the surgeon to rapidly thrust  the cannula forwards and backwards over and over in order to complete the job. The surgeon traditionally thrusts the cannula rather forcefully into the subcutaneous space at a rate of approximately two to three thrusts per second in order to cut the fat into small enough pieces for aspiration.

HydraSolve™ takes the opposite approach by moving the cannula much more slowly. Albright said their device actually moves the cannula in a more methodical manner, averaging one thrust every one to two seconds. This means that the surgeon is usually moving the cannula at less than one-fourth the speed of typical liposuction procedures.

Albright said that so far HydraSolve™ has received good feedback in clinical cases. Targeted plastic surgeons who are experts in lipoplasty have been trialing the prototype devices and giving feedback to Andrew Technologies on improvements that are continuously being made, as well as providing clinical perspective on how the product compares to existing technologies.

“We don’t have the benefit of head-to-head clinical trials yet, but we do have very adept and critical feedback from these leading plastic surgeons who have trialed our product in over 40 patient cases,” Albright said.

According to Albright, Andrew Technologies has discovered that most of these plastic surgeons are suggesting that HydraSolve™ is going to be much faster than the existing technologies. A few surgeons have even gone so far as to estimate that HydraSolve™ will be 25-40 percent faster in terms of extracting similar volumes of fat during surgery. Across the board, Albright said that all of these plastic surgeons are telling them that surgery is much less exerting with HydraSolve™ and that it enables them to remove fat in a more controlled and precise fashion.

“The surgeons are also reporting very little bruising, very little blood loss, and very little pain, as well as fairly rapid recovery for the patient,” Albright said.

Paving the way for other innovations

Albright said the same scientific approach has been postulated to work with little adaptation for visceral-fat extraction. Visceral fat is not underneath the skin; it is inside the body and is primarily attached to the kidneys and to intra-abdominal organs and the mesentery. Excess visceral fat is believed to be the primary cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

“No one has ever considered extracting that fat with a pointed device like a cannula,” Albright said, “because a typical liposuction cannula has very sharp edges since the cannula has to carve through the fat.”

Andrew Technologies’ cannula is a purposefully blunted instrument, making it different from existing cannulas. In a benchtop trial, Albright said that they’ve shown the device can also liquefy excised visceral fat. There is a patent pending for this application.

“This is a breakout area that we think could potentially reverse insulin resistance and prevent the onset of diabetes in targeted patients,” Albright said. “So we feel like this is something that could actually transform our technology into more of a therapeutic application from where it is today as an aesthetic medical device.”

Of course, this use would require more research before a claim would be submitted to the FDA and other agencies.

Advanced technology, more patients

In the United States, liposuction has been around for several decades, and it is estimated there are about 400,000 cases per year in the United States. Devices that have come out in the past have attempted to integrate newer energy sources to help with the liposuction procedure, but Albright explained that they haven’t actually delivered marked clinical benefits for surgeons or patients.

“What we have found is that there are an awful lot of potential patients that are very interested in liposuction,” he said, “and although the liposuction market today is quite large, it appears that there are about sevenfold more adult consumers in the U.S. that are very interested in liposuction, so we assume there is a large pipeline of people that are waiting for better technology, better results, less pain, and reduced complications.”

He added, “We feel that by bringing out a more advanced technology that could demonstrate significant benefits for patients and for surgeons, that our doctors and providers will be able to meet more of this anticipated need.”

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

chleo May 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

Make it so it can be financed on a payment plan and I’m in!

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chloe May 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

payment plan please

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