Stoneburner co-authors report on innovative laser procedure

Author: Brian Wallheimer

Jackie Stoneburner

Combining two aesthetic procedures as a single stage operation, once performed weeks or months apart, could decrease recovery time and improve outcomes, according to research published by a Notre Dame undergraduate and a Saint Mary’s alumna.

Christine Petti, M.D., a plastic surgeon (SMC ’76), and her daughter, Jacqueline Stoneburner, a senior majoring in both science-business and Spanish at Notre Dame, published the results of the 16-patient clinical trial in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Petti developed a method for repairing both lipodystrophy and cellulite with a fiber optic laser in one procedure, rather than the standard two.

“There are no previous scientific reports combining these two different types of laser treatments,” Petti says. “Patients can now have one operation, one exposure, one down time.”

Stoneburner worked with Petti at the doctor’s Torrance, California medical practice to produce a literature review, collect patient data, document the procedure, gather before and after photographic results, as well as analyze the journal's review process. She says the experience gave her insight into the type of medical research she would like to perform. She has been accepted to multiple medical schools and aspires to become a plastic surgeon.

“I was never interested in bench research, but this inspired me to pursue further opportunities that would enable me to have an even more significant impact on research in plastic surgery in the future,” Stoneburner says. “I love contributing to this exploration and discovery of knowledge in the field of plastic surgery.”

Cellulite, caused by a herniation of fat near the skin, can cause dimpling of the skin, and lipodystrophy, an abnormal accumulation of deeper fat, can cause undesirable body contour deformities. Petti’s surgical laser technique involved identifying a precise wavelength that would allow her to first destroy fat cells and fibrous dermal bands that are part of cellulite and then move deeper to remove fat accumulations that cause lipodystrophy.

According to the trial, patients were more satisfied with the single procedure, and aesthetic outcomes were scored higher after Petti’s procedure than those after multiple operations.

“You can combine both aesthetic and highly technical surgery to create this beautiful body contour, harmonizing both your artistic and surgical skills,” Stoneburner says. “And you can make a profound and deep impact on people’s lives.”