The Silicon Review
As the last step in an open surgery, skin closure is not always the first thing on a surgical team’s mind. Their immediate challenge is to quickly and securely close an incision, but there are a myriad of post-surgical considerations when selecting a closure method, including complications, infection, pain and the quality of the resulting scar.
Staples are fast to apply but constrain a patient’s movement in physical therapy, are painful when they are removed and create punctures that can be pathways for infection. Sutures or stitches are painstaking to apply and come with many of the same drawbacks as staples. Skin glue creates a water-tight seal on the wound but lacks the strength to act as a true wound closure method.
In today’s healthcare environment, cost, quality of care and patient satisfaction are essential to a hospital’s livelihood. Because of this, advancements in cost containment, efficiency and infection prevention are essential. With that in mind, ZipLine Medical was formed in 2007 by Dr. Amir Belson to improve the surgical experience for physicians, hospitals and patients.
Headquartered in Silicon Valley, ZipLine Medical developed and has commercialized its Zip Surgical Skin Closure technology, which is a non-invasive and easy to use wound closure device that replaces sutures, staples and glue for surgical incisions and lacerations.
The emergence of Zip
ZipLine Medical’s first product to market was the Zip15, which was the predecessor to the current Zip16 device. The original product was designed for anatomy that did not have a lot of movement during recovery, such as abdominal incisions.This early device lacked the ability to stretch with a wound, had a large footprint and required multiple steps to apply. However, with its release into the market, surgeons immediately recognized the benefits of this novel non-invasive, adjustable and reversible wound closure. “We learned quite a bit and decided to focus more on articulating joints, such as knees, to open up the available market for the device,” said John Tighe, CEO and President of ZipLine Medical.
The fast, non-invasive alternative for surgical skin closure
Since skin closure is a part of any open surgical procedure, the company subsequently commercialized a portfolio of Zip devices designed for a variety of uses, including orthopaedics, electrophysiology, cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, plastic and reconstructive surgery, Ob/Gyn, and general surgery. Recently, the technology was approved by the US FDA for over-the-counter sale to consumers.
The Zip uses adjustable straps that enable a surgeon to fine-tune the optimal amount of tension in skin closure. It also provides full visibility of a wound to monitor it during healing.
Clinical studies have shown the Zip to be eight times stronger and three times faster than sutures, and the patented force distribution design protects the wound while keeping it securely closed, even during rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy.
The device is designed to improve the patient experience by minimizing scarring and eliminating “railroad track” marks that come with staples and sutures. It also makes removal as simple as peeling off a Band-Aid, making it far more comfortable than other methods.
Patented technology platform
The devices incorporate a force distribution structure that is designed to distribute closure forces along the incision and minimize high localized forces that can occur with other closure methods. In addition, the force distribution structure creates an Isolation Zone around the incision that acts like a cage or scaffold to protect the incision from extrinsic forces cause by movement of the patient.
The unique segmented Dynamic Compression feature enables the Zip to lengthen along with an incision during joint articulation or body movement while protecting the incision from distraction forces perpendicular to the incision. The serpentine structure is designed to provide slight compression to the incision to counteract increased distraction forces during joint flexion.
Hospitals now look at costs not only during the procedure, but also in the post-operative care and recovery period. Particularly in the recovery period, patient complaints, their need for pain medication or antibiotics, infection and the need for follow-up visits for device removal can all add costs to a procedure. The Zip provides an opportunity for hospitals to reduce their post-discharge costs, enhance patient satisfaction and avoid new channels for infection in addition to increasing operating room efficiency.
The company is gearing up for the launch of its first non-Zip product. The ZipTrak is a wearable device for monitoring post-op orthopedic patients, which includes a sensor and smartphone app for use by both the surgeon’s office, physical therapists and the patient. It will allow real-time monitoring of recovery and performance in real time to help improve patient compliance, enable early intervention to avoid complications and optimize overall outcomes.
The company has an exciting pipeline of other products in development for wound closure and surgical recovery. The company is looking to its current and future portfolio to help it achieve even greater success in the field of wound healing, where it plays an important role from the end of surgery all the way through patient recovery. “We fully expect to continue our rapid growth and become the standard of care in wound closure and patient recovery for many common surgical procedures,” wraps up the CEO of ZipLine Medical.
The men behind ZipLine
Prior to conceiving and founding ZipLine Medical, Dr. Amir Belson was the founder of NeoGuide Systems, which was acquired by Intuitive Surgical in 2009. Dr. Belson is also the founder of Vascular Pathways, which developed an FDA-approved vascular interventional technology that was chosen as one of the 10 best innovations of 2009 by Popular Science magazine. Vascular Pathways was subsequently acquired by Bard in 2015. Dr. Belson served several years as a flight surgeon in Israel’s Air Force rescue unit before moving to the U.S. for a three-year Pediatric Nephrology fellowship at Stanford University Medical Center.
John R. Tighe serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of ZipLine Medical. Prior to joining the company, John Tighe was President and CEO of Peak Surgical, which was acquired in 2011 by Medtronic. John was responsible for establishing clinical development and sales of PEAK’s novel radio frequency technology in a variety of surgical specialties, including General Surgery, ENT, Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery. Prior to PEAK, John served as Senior Vice President and General Manager at ArthroCare, where he managed the Sport Medicine, ENT and Spine business units.