Med Device Monday: Cool Ones!

It's hot. Let's talk about some cool medical devices!

Last week, we discussed how everyday items you might spot in your doctor's office—like tongue depressors—can be medical devices. Did you know FDA offers a  consumer updates list with insight, info, and updates on common medical devices and everyday medical issues? Some of the devices and products on the list might surprise you! 

Let's take a look at a few. 

 This picture is from nasa.gov, therefore it must be an actual photograph of the sun.

This picture is from nasa.gov, therefore it must be an actual photograph of the sun.

1. Sun safety. I told you it was hot! Though as we all know, sun safety is for every season. Sunscreen helps save your skin, and sunglasses help save your eyes (and skin). FDA has advice on both, and they even has a whole page dedicated to sunscreen. When it comes to sunscreen, FDA advises:

"Under the FDA’s final regulations:

  • Products that pass a broad spectrum test can be labeled “broad spectrum.”
  • Sunscreens that are not broad spectrum or that lack an SPF of at least 15 must carry a warning: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
  • Water resistance claims, for 40 or 80 minutes, tell how much time you can expect to get the labeled SPF-level of protection while swimming or sweating.
  • Manufacturers may no longer make claims that their sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweat proof.”
  • Products may no longer be identified as “sunblocks” or claim instant protection or protection for more than two hours without reapplying."

2. Braces! They're not just for kids any more, and they don't just come in metal. These days, some braces are invisible and don't even require brackets and wires. Braces are for more than just straight teeth: they help create a healthy, fully functioning bite that can be more easily cleaned, thus preserving the teeth and promoting general oral and gum health and hygiene.

3. Is rinsing your sinuses with neti pots or bottles safe? FDA can help guide you. Make sure you use clean water (they can tell you how to do that), follow the instructions, wash your hands, and listen to your doctor! (They can't help you with getting over the feeling of pouring water up your nose, however.)

4. Tattoo removal! Regretting that old love's name on your bicep? Want to get rid of it and make it say "Mom" instead? FDA doesn't judge you, but it does walk you through the different methods out there and tell you what you need to know to make sure the process is as safe, effective, and well-informed as possible. There are various FDA-approved devices on the market intended for tattoo removal. FDA recommends talking to your dermatologist to learn more. 

 Maybe a few. Photo from tattoo.com.

Maybe a few. Photo from tattoo.com.

5. If you've watched a TV show on Bravo lately, you've probably heard of cryotherapy (so called). This cool treatment (I'm not done with the temperature puns) might look fancy and exotic, but it has no scientifically-proven benefit:

"And despite claims by many spas and wellness centers to the contrary, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have evidence that WBC effectively treats diseases or conditions like Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stress, anxiety or chronic pain.“Based on purported health benefits seen in many promotions for cryotherapy spas, consumers may incorrectly believe that the FDA has cleared or approved WBC devices as safe and effective to treat medical conditions,” says Aron Yustein, M.D., a medical officer in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “That is not the case.”"

 Photo from fda.gov.

Photo from fda.gov.

 Sorry, Lisa Vanderpump. Photo from bravotv.com.

Sorry, Lisa Vanderpump. Photo from bravotv.com.

6. Laser toys. Surprise! FDA regulates lasers. In a nutshell, lasers are dangerous, maybe don't buy them for children.

7. Turning to Dr. Google for your hemorrhoids? Turns out it was a trending health issue in Google's 2012 annual roundup of popular search terms. FDA took note, and has some words of wisdom for you! They regulate some treatments, have some advice, and also recommend speaking to your doctor. No shame in that game. 

8. Considering breast implants? Make sure you weigh all your options, know the longterm implications (they're not permanent devices!), and make the best choice for you. FDA has five things you need to know about breast implants.

9. And finally, is it really FDA-approved? Some guidelines on parsing whether a product really gets an FDA stamp of approval—straight from the source! Some takeaways: cigarettes, lipstick, baby formula? No. New drugs, food additives, the medicine your dog takes? Yes!

FDA is in the business of protecting people. The next time you're curious about a product or process you encounter in every day life, try poking around FDA's website and see if they address it. You never know what you might stumble across!

Here's to staying cool and healthy!