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Episode #65: Low Level Lasers in Cosmetic Surgery and Beyond with Dr. Robert Jackson

laser light show

Dr. Chad Woolner: What’s going on everybody Dr. Chad Woolner here with my good friend Dr. Andrew Wells. And on today’s episode of the laser light show, we have a special guest, Dr. Robert Jackson, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon out of Indianapolis. We’re so excited to have him here. So let’s get started.




Dr. Andrew Wells

Dr. Chad Woolner

Dr. Robert Jackson


Dr. Chad Woolner: Growing up in Portland, Oregon, I used to love going to laser light shows at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. They would put on these amazing light shows with incredible designs synced up to some of my favorite music. From the Beatles to Pink Floyd to Jimi Hendrix and Metallica; they were awesome. Little did I know then that lasers would have such a profound effect on my life decades later. As a chiropractic physician, I have seen first-hand just how powerful laser therapy is in helping patients struggling with a wide range of health problems. As the leader in laser therapy, Erchonia has pioneered the field in obtaining 20 of the 23 total FDA clearances for therapeutic application of lasers. On this podcast, we’ll explore the science and technology and physiology behind what makes these tools so powerful. Join me as we explore low level laser therapy. I’m Dr. Chad Woolner along with my good friend Dr. Andrew Wells and welcome to The Laser Light Show. 

Learn more about the metabolic benefits of Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in our blog  All About Lipid (Fat) Metabolism in Easy-to-Understand Terms for Your Patients


Dr. Robert Jackson: It’s good to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Chad Woolner: You bet. So you’re based out of Indianapolis. Is that correct?

Dr. Robert Jackson: That is correct.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Fantastic. How long have you been doing this for?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Actually, Noblesville. It’s just a suburb of Indianapolis. Okay, how long? Surgery probably longer than you guys are old. I’ve been practicing cosmetic surgery for over 35 years.

Dr. Chad Woolner: I would imagine you’ve seen a lot of changes and innovation over the years in terms of tools, techniques, procedures.

Dr. Robert Jackson: We certainly have. Here’s safer equipment, safer procedures. We’ve learned how to do things better to make it a lot better for the patients and make it so they can get back to their lifestyle a little quicker. And my job’s trying to make America Beautiful. And that makes people happy.

Dr. Chad Woolner: That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. So maybe tell us a little bit about how you got hooked up with Erchonia? How did that whole relationship start?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Well, many years ago, at one of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery meetings, I was introduced to Steve Shanks and one of the other Erchonia brothers. And they were talking about this handheld laser. It was a 635-nanometer laser at that time. And we all thought it was kind of snake oil or, you know, stuff that people just go around selling like water to make you have Mickey healthy, you know? Yeah. But anyhow, since I was a kid, I’ve never really been that flexible. And I could never touch my toes. And so anyhow, they came up to our hotel room where another guy was having some problems. And they treated his pain with a low-level laser. And then they, I was telling them about the fact that I said that thing can make me touch my toes. I believe in it. And so Steve ran the thing up and down my back a few times. Sure enough, I’ve been over and I could touch my toes. Well, maybe there is something, maybe there is something to this. But at that time, I was really involved with liposuction. And there was a doctor in Colombia by the name of Rodrigo Neeraj, who had done some work with Erchonia laser. His wife, Clara, was a radiologist, and they had done some pretty high-powered research on using the low-level handheld laser prior to doing liposuction. And then they went back and actually did some high-powered radiology testing and studying what happened at the cellular level. And they saw that the membrane of the cells kind of broke and allowed the fat cells to emulsify. So one of the reps that was working at that time for Erchonia happened to be the brother of another rep that worked for another company that I was very good friends with. And he said, Would you let my brother bring this thing up and try it when you’re doing a liposuction case? And I thought, well, yeah, people are gonna laugh at me, they bring this red light in. And, in fact, one of the doctors actually did. He said, Why don’t you just pull your truck up here and turn them, turn the taillights on and probably do the same thing. So anyway, it was kind of interesting because I had a patient who I had done liposuction on before. And I had done it in places that were not as painful as please, I was going to do it at this point. And so they brought their laser in, and Steve and someone else, and they came in, they treated the patient before I did the liposuction. And when I walked into the recovery room after the procedure, she said to me, ” Dr. Jackson, what did you do differently?” I said, “What do you mean, did I do anything? I didn’t do anything different.” Oh, you must have done something different because it doesn’t hurt like it did before. So with that, we did a research program with about five of us, and we tested the laser with liposuction, and we found that the fat came up a little bit more emulsified, you could actually see a difference in the way the fat was coming out. Nowadays, there are other things that do emulsify fat, such as the Vaser, which is an ultrasonic treatment that will emulsify fat, but we were getting that kind of result with the Zerona. Back. This was probably 20 years ago, maybe. And so with that, I became involved, and we did a number of research projects with them. So anyway, then later, they asked me to use the Zerona and not do liposuction to see what would happen to the fat. And with that, we had a goal, you had to reach at least three reductions of three and a half inches in six weeks, on the hips, thighs, and waist. And we hit that there were almost five of us doing the research project. And those of us who are in the northern parts of the states got really good results. There was a guy in Florida who did not get very good results. And typical of the Erchonia Corporation, they wanted to figure out why that was. So they had scientists working with them at the time. And he said it may possibly be due to dehydration. So because of that, they brought some patients in, gave them IV fluids before they were on a treatment. And they found that the success rate jumped up by 30%. Wow. So it became obvious that if you’re going to do this Zerona and help people lose weight, they need to stay hydrated. And so that now is part of the protocol. So those are just a couple of things that I’ve done with the Zerona people or they are gonna have people in the past.

Dr. Chad Woolner: That’s amazing.

Dr. Andrew Wells: Just to kind of, just for some context, you mentioned 3.5 inches in certain areas in the body. How does that compare to a typical liposuction treatment?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Well, it’s not as good, of course. I mean, liposuction, you’re taking out a lot more fat, but it’s also invasive. Whereas Zerona, I have had, I have had people who lost up to 15 inches in the same way just with this Zerona. But patients have some certain criteria they have to follow. They have to, as I say, drink a lot of water, we’d like them to take about 60 ounces of water a day just to kind of keep them well hydrated. They cannot drink alcohol because of alcohol. I’m leaving a major amount of alcohol during that time because it interferes with the fat being absorbed and going out through the liver. So we advise him to exercise, and we have a criteria now that we’ve come up with because of that. But is it liposuction? No, but it’s not invasive either. So many people prefer that.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, what’s so cool too here is we learn about this research with these lasers. And, here we are talking to one of the principal researchers in this research. I think that’s super cool to hear because we learned all about this, we got ours around at our clinic a little over a year and a half ago, I think. And we’ve seen amazing results at our clinic with it. And it’s just cool to hear now we’re talking with one of the principal Docs involved and some of the initial research, which is just so cool. What were you gonna say Andrew?

Dr. Andrew Wells: So are you, Dr. Jackson, are you using Zerona and lasers for all of your cosmetic procedures now? Or is it just geared mainly toward your fat loss patients?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Not all of them, but for fat loss patients for sure. And post-op, we use it for pain. We use it a lot. And then I also have the toenail fungus laser, which we use all the time. And we’ve gotten excellent results with that. I don’t know if you’ve talked about that on this show or not. But it’s an absolutely wonderful device. We also did at one point, a study with the combination of the 635-nanometer and a 535-nanometer laser for cellulite. And we got some results that cellulite is a little tougher to treat. But we did get a number of patients who got marked improvement with it. I think I’ve always liked the Erchonia people, though, and I think you mentioned this earlier that they have FDA clearance for all this stuff. And they never put anything on the market unless they get the FDA marketing and clearance. And a lot of companies don’t do that. So I think that’s one of the things that’s always impressed me about the Shanks family and the Erchonia Corporation.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, that’s especially the case with many of if not the vast majority of other laser companies out there is they’re content to just go to market without those things. And yeah, obviously, you know, they’ll do all sorts of other various, you know, approaches in their marketing, but it’s very, very clear that Erchonia has really worked hard to obtain number one, the FDA clearances, but number two continue forward with ongoing research as well. And so that’s something that’s been cool to hear, not only from them but from doctors who have been involved with a lot of that research yourself included.

Dr. Robert Jackson: You said you have this Zerona in your office, what are the lasers that they ever have in your office?

Dr. Chad Woolner: We have the FX 405. The Zerona obviously, and then we just got a couple of months back to the base station, we have to accelerate the GDL and the EB RL. And we have just seen incredible things with all of the lasers, it’s been really cool to the with regarding this Zerona the most we’ve ever seen in one treatment. And again, this was hips, waist, chest, arms and legs. But the most we saw was reduction. My wife was using it on a patient she saw a seven-inch reduction collectively in one treatment. And she thought that was a mistake. So she double-checked her triple-check, quadruple check. And she’s like, that’s accurate. And the patient was just thrilled with it. It was really, really cool to see. So yeah, that was pretty wild.

Dr. Robert Jackson: Yeah, we had some results like that. And it was interesting that that dehydration thing and how we came about finding that out was like I say, one of the doctors who lived in Florida and you know, be work chronically dehydrated in Florida. And so nobody could figure that out. But then Erchonia had his scientists that worked with him at the time. And he said, well, I think it may be just due to dehydration that he’s not getting those results. That’s when they brought the patients in, gave him IV, and then found out that hydration really does help the results. So any of you out there who are using Zerona make sure you stay well hydrated.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, that’s a great point. That’s a really good point.

Dr. Andrew Wells: So, Dr. Jackson, you started off as kind of a skeptic, and I love the joke about bringing in the taillights in the truck to do the same thing. It’s interesting. We work a lot with chiropractors; we also work with a lot of medical doctors and nurses. Chiropractors, for good or for bad, are early adopters of technology like this, and I think Erchonia would agree that chiropractors really saw the value of it a long time ago. Are you seeing that you or your medical colleagues are open to laser therapy? Are they adopting it? Are they seeing what you’re doing? And are they curious? And also,

Dr. Robert Jackson: I think they’re open to adopting it. The people I work with are surgeons, and surgeons are used to having an immediate effect. Every surgeon wants to make a real change. Some are a little more reluctant to try things like Zerona, but it definitely works. We have many members of our organization who were part of the research project, and I’ve met a ton of people through Erchonia’s meetings where they bring in worldwide authorities from all parts of the country.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Are there any particular areas that you want to use lasers for or venturing into other than what you’re currently using?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Adaptation thought? I think, of course, pain is one thing I think. I think you’re working now on neuropathy, which is a horrible problem for many people, especially diabetics and people who’ve had nerve injury and that sort of thing. It’s pretty debilitating. I personally have some neuropathy, probably secondary to my experience in Vietnam. I’ve picked up some major, I think I got affected with Agent Orange over there. And so anyhow, I’m very excited about the fact that Erchonia is now working on a laser to treat neuropathy, because that’s a debilitating thing for a number of patients, especially a lot of our veterans. And that’s one thing I would really like to see them improve.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Have you used the lasers for yourself in your neuropathy?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Not yet, but I’m going to absolutely, I definitely plan to do that.

Dr. Chad Woolner: We’ve used the FX 405 on a number of neuropathy patients and have seen, well, we’re using the FX 405 in conjunction with the GPL. So we’re getting all three wavelengths, we’re getting the 635 nanometer, the 520 nanometer in the 405 nanometer. And so far, what we’ve seen, and granted, it’s been limited. It’s been a handful of patients, but we’ve seen fantastic results with those that we’ve done it with. And we’ve typically stacked it with a variety of therapies, vibration plate therapy, and obviously chiropractic care as part of their treatment, typically some supplementation and dietary changes as well. But yeah, the lasers have been fantastic from what we’ve seen. It’s been really, really good.

Dr. Robert Jackson: And the other thing I’ve been very impressed with is I have the toenail fungus laser. And to date, I don’t think I haven’t had anybody who hasn’t had marked improvement with their toenail fungus with no drugs that affect your liver and that sort of thing. And it’s kind of interesting; you treat them, and you all of a sudden begin to see the base, and they’ll grow out, and there’s no fungus there. It’s, and that was one of the things that I learned about at one of the World Congress meetings of the Erchonia or Erchonia puts on the results they had, and I think it was Ireland. They treated like 500 patients and had like a 97% success rate with a toenail laser. So that’s something we do use in our office.

Dr. Chad Woolner: What percentage of patients would you say that you see struggle with toenail fungus? I’m, I’m done. I mean, I’ve heard of it. We’re obviously very familiar with the lunula laser. But I’m just curious as to the prevalence of the problem.

Dr. Robert Jackson: It’s very prevalent. And it’s both men and women. I’ve had, I’ve treated both toenails and fingernails, sometimes some women, I think sometimes the artificial nails and things like that. Some are either trapped by the fungus there, and anyhow, I’ve had really good success with both toenail and fingernail fungus using the lunula laser. So yeah, it’s very simple. People can put their foot underneath there for 12 minutes. And, you know, come back a week later and do the same thing for four weeks, and then I have them come back, you know, once a year or something and treat it; that seems to work very well.

Dr. Chad Woolner: So you’re talking typically you see results in just four treatments?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Yeah, I usually do four treatments and then like a week or month or so later a toenail grows up. The base of the toenail will be clear, leaving a clear nail behind it.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, I wouldn’t think, but I would imagine that that can create a certain level of self-consciousness for people, especially if they’re, I would imagine, you know, they’re seeing a cosmetic surgeon. I’m guessing that that may not be the primary reason they’re there. But that may be something that they bring up to you in consults. Is that kind of how it typically works?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Somehow or other, I’m not quite sure how they found me. We do know that. They just, they call it, I want to know about the Lunula, Lunula laser, and how it works. And they come in, and I talk to him, and I never really make guarantees, but I tell him this is the results that we’ve seen and that they have seen in Great Britain and other places. So a very simple treatment and no downtime. My, my, I look at them; my girls actually put them underneath the laser and turn the laser on for me and turn it off when it turns off, but the other foot and treat it and turn it off.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Pretty simple.

Dr. Robert Jackson: It’s pretty simple.

Dr. Chad Woolner: What are some contemporary kinds of conventional treatment? I mean, you mentioned medication for toenail fungus. Are there other conventional treatments? And what are some of the downsides and risks?

Dr. Robert Jackson: Oh, well, especially the medication that they use has had something that a lot of people use and have had some significant liver problems because of it. Other things, people use across-the-counter medications and all and things like that just don’t seem to be working. Most of my patients that come to me have tried almost everything and nothing worked. And so they come and try this. Or they’ve tried, you know, we do recommend that they because the fungus is probably in their shoes and the socks if they they change those and try to keep the fungus away and then once they get the thing cured and get rid of all those issues and buy new shoes, and

Dr. Chad Woolner: Any sort of dietary recommendations that are made in conjunction with it that you’ve seen or know of?

Dr. Robert Jackson: None that I really know of; it’s a fungus most of the time it’s either and a lot of people catch it in swimming pools or places like that. But it’s very bothersome to The Beatles, people who have it you know some of them think they pick it up and nail salons you know. But I don’t really know; I know when they come to me they’ve got a toenail fungus and we treat it for

Dr. Chad Woolner: You just get rid of it.

Dr. Andrew Wells: This is a problem I have; it’s a recurring issue. I’ve had bilateral foot issues, and so my toes are kind of locked in a flexed position, and so my nail will rub up against the bottom of my shoes. I’m actually really prone to toenail fungus. And my podiatrist gave me a little. It’s like a topical you put on, and I think it’s made from horse urine. Maybe incorrect on that. But I don’t know if it’s the medication that causes hopefully not liver damage, but I’ll use that periodically, but it’s a pain in the butt because I have to put it on every day. And it does help, but it comes back; it’s just that remembering to put it on every day is not the easiest thing to do. And so to be able to go into an office four times and then have it cleared up is what I would do.

Dr. Robert Jackson: Sure. Well, you can avoid horse urine. My daughter used to ride horses all the time, and I got really bad Achilles tendinitis one time when I was walking across the horse show grounds. The veterinary nurse asked, “What’s wrong with you?” and I said, “I got Achilles tendinitis.” He said, “I can fix that for you.” And he put some DMSO stuff on it, which, oh, is it menthol put it on? I had a garlic taste in my mouth. But it did help my Achilles tendinitis. So I don’t always poopoo all these things that people think are snake oil because some of them really work. For instance, if I get cramps, I drink pickle juice because in 15 minutes, it’s gone. And I know a number of athletes do that too. But yeah.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah. Go ahead.

Dr. Robert Jackson: Well, one of the things I was gonna say, though, is that, you know, the Shanks family is almost like my family. I just love them. They’re really good people. They try to do good things for people, and they take good care of their employees. They’re just good people to work with. So I think any company using their products and things, you want the people who stand behind the products to be reputable. And I can honestly say with my association with the Shanks over the years that they’re extremely reputable people.

Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, we appreciate you saying that. Andrew and I, you know, we’ve been working with them pretty closely for a while now. And it’s been really neat for us to be able to see that same thing, number one firsthand. But also, literally, every single doc that we talked to who works directly with the folks at Erchonia, the entire team from top to bottom is just phenomenal. You can very much tell that they are a very purpose-driven organization, that they have a very clear vision of what they’re doing and what they want to do. That makes for a very meaningful and very enjoyable time with us in terms of this show. It’s really fun to get to talk to everybody. I mean, we just feel super lucky to be a part of this. So it’s a lot of fun. I’m curious, Dr. Jackson, are you currently involved in ongoing research with them? Or is there anything in the future that you see happening in terms of research?

Dr. Robert Jackson: So at the present time? No. I think my fellows in the past we have presented, I think along with the research thing we’ve done. I think we’ve presented like five papers with them on various things. I know the first was using the low-level laser with liposuction, and then using those Zerona, or the first, we can use it and we’re gonna. We’re just using the handheld laser and just seeing what the fat reduction or the waist reduction is. And then we got those Zerona and did another research project with them using those Zerona. And then we use the combination of the Erwin. We use the 635-nanometer laser that they have, and we use that and did the cellulite program with that. And we presented, as a matter of fact, one of my fellows, a number of years ago, one of the fellows, paper award at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, which was one of the research projects we did. So it’s been a good relationship, and they’ve become friends. We’ve gone to dinner together a lot. And they’ve come up and visited me, and I visited them. But yeah, if they’re ever interested, if they come up with something that they want me to do, I’m sure they’ll contact me. But, you know, like through them, I got to meet Jared Rodrigo Neeraj and Clara, who are just wonderful people that did this first research project. And then there was a gal from Hong Kong who also did the same thing. And, and actually, you know, proved that it does work. So, yeah, it’s been a nice, nice relationship. But they’re just good people. And the company is a reliable organization. People can trust it.

Dr. Chad Woolner: For sure.

Dr. Andrew Wells: Well, well, Dr. Jackson, we sure appreciate you being on the podcast and sharing your experiences with the lasers. And I’m really happy that you chose to use lasers versus your truck tail lights. Much better outcomes. And yeah, I just want to echo what you guys are saying about Erchonia and the team. It’s a fantastic thing. And I would just encourage Docs listening to this. If you’re curious about lasers or interested in it, just come to one of the events. Erchonia puts on some amazing lectures and events taught by some of the brightest doctors we’ve ever met. And also their annual business meeting. I don’t think they’re having the business meeting this year. But it’s typically in November, where you get to go and see some of the top Docs using lasers. And you really get to share in that experience of getting better patient outcomes, which is what this is all about. So yeah, can’t thank you enough, Dr. Jackson, for taking time out of your day to share how you’ve been using your Erchonia lasers in your practice. And yeah, we hope you’re doing this for another 35 years.

Dr. Robert Jackson: I do too. I’m not sure that’s gonna work. But I hope you’re right.

Dr. Andrew Wells: But as a little side note, we just interviewed a couple of episodes ago, Dr. Dan Murphy. He’s 68 years old now and has been lasering his brain for the last 20 years daily. And he’s attributed that to keeping his mind sharp and keeping his body in good shape. So he can continue to do what he loves to do, educate Docs. But yeah, thank you so much, Chad. Any final words?

Dr. Chad Woolner: No, again, yeah, I would just echo what Dr. Wells said, Dr. Jackson, we sure appreciate you. We appreciate the great work that you’re doing that you have done. That research that you were involved in truly is groundbreaking. It really is. And it’s incredible now to see the lives that have been impacted as a direct result of what you’ve been involved with. So we really appreciate it. And we hope those listening and or watching have found immense value from this. We would just encourage you to share this with others. And we will talk to you all on the next episode. Have a good one. Thanks for listening to the laser light show. Be sure to subscribe and give us a review. If you’re interested in learning more about our Erchonia lasers, just head on over to erchonia.com. There you’ll find a ton of useful resources, including research, news, and links to upcoming live events, as well as our Erchonia community where you can access for free additional resources, including advanced training and business tools. Again, thanks for listening, and we will catch you on the next episode.


About The Guest(s):

Dr Robert Jackson: With over three decades of experience, Dr. Jackson has been setting an unparalleled standard of care in the realm of cosmetic surgery. Awarded the prestigious International Golden Scalpel, presented by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Jackson has significantly contributed to the advancement of liposuction techniques, serving as the Chairman of the Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction Task Force for the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.


Dr. Robert Jackson shares his active contributions to the world of cosmetic surgery, his dedication to patient satisfaction, and his pioneering spirit in the realm of minimally invasive techniques and new technologies make this episode an invaluable resource for all interested in the science and art of low-level laser therapy and its applications.

Key Takeaways:

Dr. Robert Jackson is an esteemed cosmetic surgeon with over 30 years of experience with an expertise in breast augmentation and reduction. Introduced to Low Level Laser Therapy by his colleague Steve Shanks, Dr. Robert Jackson has been a guiding light for young physicians and colleagues, imparting his wealth of knowledge and expertise. 


“I think I’ve always liked the Erchonia people, though, and I think you mentioned this earlier that they have FDA clearance for all this stuff. And they never put anything on the market unless they get the FDA marketing and clearance. And a lot of companies don’t do that.” -Dr. Robert Jackson

“I’m very excited about the fact that Erchonia is now working on a laser to treat neuropathy, because that’s a debilitating thing for a number of patients, especially a lot of our veterans. And that’s one thing I would really like to see them improve.” -Dr. Robert Jackson

“Most of my patients that come to me have tried almost everything and nothing worked. And so they come and try this.” -Dr. Robert Jackson

“Erchonia puts on the results they had… They treated like 500 patients and had like a 97% success rate with a toenail laser.” -Dr. Robert Jackson