Thermage® is an FDA-approved cosmetic procedure used for skin tightening, wrinkle reduction, and the alleviation of other signs of aging. Read on to learn more about why the Thermage® ThermaCool® procedure is rapidly becoming known as the non-surgical face lift of the future.
What Is Thermage®?
The Thermage® system relies on heat to tighten the underlying layers of the skin. This produces an instantaneous and marked reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, jowls, and sagging skin in the neck or brow area. Thermage® is also an effective method of skin tightening for other areas of the body. It is painless, non-invasive, and requires no recovery time, yet offers immediate and consistently excellent results.
Patients who desire more subtle results and quicker recovery times than are possible with surgical face lift procedures are often ideal candidates for Thermage®. Skin tightening with the Thermage® ThermaCool® system is also beneficial for patients who are developing prominent folds and sagging in areas of the face but are not considered suitable candidates for a traditional face lift. Thermage® is an excellent treatment option for patients who wish to reduce the appearance of subtle facial wrinkling and sagging skin. If you want to rejuvenate your face without undergoing a more invasive procedure like face lift, Thermage® may be the ideal treatment for you.
Ideal Thermage® Candidates
Thermage ® treatments are designed for patients who desire more subtle results than are possible with a surgical face lift. Ideal candidates for the treatment include:
- Patients who are not candidates for surgical face lift
- Middle-aged women beginning to show signs of neck/brow/eyelid sagging
- Middle-aged women beginning to show signs of drooping jowls/cheek folds
- Patients who want to achieve subtle lift or tightening of the face without invasive surgery
- Patients who have had a prior face lift and desire further tightening of the skin
- Poor candidates for Thermage® include patients who are looking for more dramatic results, such as those that can be achieved with a surgical face lift.
Before undergoing the procedure, you will have a consultation with a cosmetic dermatologist, who will go over all of your treatment options, the cost of Thermage®, and determine your candidacy.
Thermage® vs. Surgical Face Lift
Thermage® is a facial cosmetic treatment aimed at reducing subtle fine lines and wrinkles, cheek folds, and droopiness in the face by way of a quick, non-invasive procedure. Surgical face lift is a better option for patients who would like to achieve more dramatic and longer-lasting results. Results of face lift can last from five to ten years, whereas Thermage® treatments typically last approximately two years. Face lift involves the surgical tightening of facial muscles, the rearranging of underlying facial structures, and the trimming of excess skin. Surgical face lift is also more feasible an option for patients who can afford the expense and the recovery time associated with an invasive cosmetic procedure. Thermage® treatment does not require incisions or any downtime. Thermage® is also a potentially ideal alternative for patients who are not eligible for face lift.
Although Thermage® is often suggested as an alternative to more invasive cosmetic facial procedures, patients should not consider it a substitute for face lift. Individuals who have very loose skin, heavy faces, deep jowls and wrinkles, and other more advanced signs of aging in the face may not experience significant improvement after Thermage ®. Additionally, individuals interested in treatment should be fully informed of Thermage® risks and treatment benefits. A skin care specialist can help evaluate your individual needs and determine if Thermage® is an appropriate option for you.
The cost of Thermage® skin tightening is one of its chief advantages. Averaging between $1000 and $5000, Thermage® ThermaCool® treatment is considerably less expensive than surgical facial rejuvenation alternatives, such as face lift, which can total $10,000 or more. Also, many dermatologists make payment plans and other financing options available for Thermage® patients. Learn more about Thermage® cost and financing options.
Thermage® Thermacool® uses radiofrequency energy to tighten the collagen in the skin, thereby filling out wrinkles and fine lines. The system targets all three layers of facial skin with the goal of keeping the skin rejuvenated and strong for years. Patients generally feel no pain during the treatment. How the Thermage® ThermaCool® System Works
As the collagen in the dermis and the subcutaneous layer begin to stretch and sag, the skin loses some of its firmness and naturally smooth texture. The Thermage® procedure targets these collagen-containing layers. The ThermaCool® system utilizes a specialized treatment tip called the ThermaTipTM, which delivers the CRF energy to the skin in controlled amounts. The ThermaTipTM uniformly heats the treatment area, stimulating collagen growth by essentially tricking the body into thinking it has suffered an injury and therefore needs to regrow collagen to restore the skin's structure.
What Is Thermage® Treatment Like?
In general, the higher the setting used during the Thermage® procedure, the more impressive the final results; however, there will also be an increased risk of discomfort. If you are undergoing a more rigorous Thermage® treatment, your doctor may have you take pain medication before beginning. The preparation for each treatment will vary depending on the individual Thermage® candidate.
Patients report a brief, deep heating sensation with every touch of the ThermaTipTM device. The outer layer of skin (the dermis) is cooled with a spray so that the visible layers of skin are not damaged. Each touch of the ThermaTipTM covers approximately one-half to three-quarters of a square inch, and each pulse lasts between two and seven seconds.
How Long Does Treatment Last?
In general, the actual treatment lasts less than an hour, though preparation and possible administration of anesthesia will add to this time. On the part of the patient, Thermage® procedures require no preparation beyond cleaning the face and removing all makeup.
Thermage® treatment is non-invasive, which means that recovery is relatively quick and simple. This is the biggest advantage of Thermage® as compared to surgical facelift procedures. Thermage® results tend to manifest over the course of a few months following treatment, although the skin will immediately feel tighter and firmer than it did before the treatment.
What to Expect after Treatment
Immediately following the Thermage® procedure, results will be subtle, but they should be visible. The skin should be tighter and firmer, with better elasticity and a more youthful overall appearance.
Side effects from Thermage® are rare and generally minor, but in some cases patients may experience mild redness, bumps, and blisters in the recently treated areas. These symptoms usually disappear on their own in a few days, though they may last for a week or more. In extremely rare cases (less than 0.08 percent of those treated), a longer-lasting complication described as a "surface irregularity" has also been reported.
Additional Thermage® Treatment Sessions
One of the most attractive aspects of Thermage® treatment is that results can be achieved in only one treatment session. This is a particular advantage over treatments such as laser skin tightening. Most laser treatments require as many as 10 or more treatment sessions in order to be fully successful. Thermage® is more convenient for patients, for whom scheduling multiple appointments can be problematic. Additionally, because less work is involved, Thermage® treatment is generally much more cost effective than laser treatments.
Thermage® results vary according to the condition of the patient's skin and especially the collagen fiber network. Thermage® generally improves the appearance of each patient's skin to some extent, but patients with healthier skin tend to experience more dramatic results.
Some Thermage® results should be visible almost immediately after treatment, but one thing that makes Thermage® truly unique is the fact that the patient's appearance will actually improve over the months following treatment. This is because Thermage® stimulates the skin to grow new collagen of its own in addition to stimulating the existing fibers. Thermage® uses the body's natural processes to improve a patient's appearance rather than relying on surgical techniques or artificial materials.
The following questions are among those often asked by patients who are interested in tightening and reducing the appearance of wrinkles on their faces without having to undergo surgery.
How does Thermage® work?
The Thermage® treatment involves applying captive radiofrequency energy to heat the inner layers of the skin. Over time, the network of natural collagen fibers that gives the skin its shape and elasticity wears out. This process can be accelerated by sun damage, exposure to environmental toxins like smoke or exhaust, or any number of other factors encompassed in the photoaging process. As collagen fibers lose their elasticity and strength, the skin begins to sag and wrinkle.
Applying captive RF heat waves to the skin heats the subcutaneous layer (made up of fat and collagen) and the epidermis (the thin outer layer), immediately tightening and rejuvenating the skin's existing collagen structure. This means that Thermage® produces immediate results. Better yet, though, is the fact that a single Thermage® treatment stimulates continued new collagen growth for up to six months after the procedure - leading to continually improving results over time.
What problem areas can Thermage® treat?
The Thermage® procedure is most commonly performed on the face. However, while the results of a Thermage® facial lift, or "thermalift," are impressive, Thermage® can be used on other parts of the body as well.
"Tummy by ThermageTM" is a single-stage, non-invasive procedure designed to tighten and tone skin around the abdomen for a more youthful look. Thermage® for the stomach is popular with women who have recently given birth and have some sagging, stretched skin as a result of pregnancy. It is also a good option for those who have recently lost weight and want to tighten up the stomach skin to better fit their new body contour. Patients who don't want to cope with the stress, recovery, expense, and risks of a tummy tuck surgery (also called an abdominoplasty) or body lift can turn to Thermage® for safe, totally non-invasive stomach contouring.
"Eyes by ThermageTM" is a similar procedure that targets the skin around the eyes. As a person ages, the skin around the eyes tends to droop, and fine wrinkles and bags begin to form. The eyes are a difficult area to treat using most conventional procedures because the skin around the eyes is so sensitive. Before Thermage®, the only real option for eye lid lifts was an involved surgical procedure. Now, however, Thermage® offers a safe and effective non-surgical alternative.
Thermage® treatment has also been used effectively on many other areas of the body, including the buttocks and thighs, achieving good results. Individuals interested in learning more about full-body Thermage® should speak to a skin care professional.
What does Thermage® treatment feel like?
Thermage® treatment is nearly always painless, and as such it does not require anesthesia. However, the doctor performing your treatment may offer some mild pain medication as a precaution. During the Thermage® procedure, patients will experience a brief periodic heating sensation as the doctor applies RF waves to areas of the skin. The procedure involves quick applications of heat spaced apart slightly for added safety. Each time an area of skin is heated, collagen is rejuvenated, and new collagen growth begins.
How long do the results of Thermage® treatment last?
Thermage® treatment is a quick and relatively simple procedure. The actual treatment may take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the scope of the procedure in question. The more area to be covered, the longer the procedure will be. A bit more time should be added for consultation with the physician before and after the procedure.
Will I need multiple Thermage® treatments?
One of the biggest advantages of Thermage® treatment is that no repeat procedures are required. By contrast, laser skin tightening procedures can require as many as 10 or more treatment sessions to produce desired results. With Thermage®, many patients experience excellent results for years after their first and only treatment. Indeed, most patients' results will actually improve over the course of the first six months following Thermage® treatment.
What is the cost of Thermage® treatment?
While the cost of any procedure varies according to area and provider, Thermage® is generally less expensive than comparably effective surgical procedures. Thermage® treatment has the advantage of being a non-surgical procedure using relatively inexpensive equipment in a quick and simple treatment process. As a result, the average cost of Thermage® is around $2000 - much less than surgical face lifts and laser skin tightening.
What is "Eyes by ThermageTM"?
Currently, "Eyes by ThermageTM" is the only way to achieve dramatic tightening and firming of the skin surrounding the eyes without surgery. With Eyes by Thermage ®, doctors use a radiofrequency tip that is specially designed to be gentle on the delicate skin surrounding the eyes. By plumping existing collagen in the area as well as encouraging the growth of healthy new collagen, doctors are able to endow patients with a dramatically younger look. Patients who undergo eye Thermage ® rave about reduced hooding, softened crow's feet, the elimination of "crepe-y" skin, and even more ease in makeup application. With no recovery time, anesthesia, or injections necessary, Eyes by Thermage ® is quickly becoming a very popular alternative to other eye rejuvenation procedures such as blepharoplasty.
What is "Body by ThermageTM"?
In 2006, the FDA approved Thermage ® as a safe method of reducing skin laxity all over the body. Body by ThermageTM has successfully been used to tighten skin in the abdominal region, thighs and buttocks, and even to eliminate sagging skin on the arms. Because Thermage ® is fast, painless, and very effective, Body by ThermageTM has come to be referred to as "the tummy shrink lift" and "the tummy heat shrink procedure" on popular television shows. If you are tired of aged, sagging skin but do not want to invest your time and money in an invasive lifting procedure such as abdominoplasty or a full body lift, Body by ThermageTM may be for you.
Are Thermage® results immediate?
The initial results of Thermage® are immediately apparent, but to see the full benefits of undergoing the procedure, a patient has to wait four to six months for tightening and collagen growth to be complete. At that point, the procedure will have run its course, and the results should be evident for the next few years.
Is Thermage® safe?
Thermage® is an extremely safe procedure. There is usually little or no pain involved, and because Thermage® treatment is totally non-surgical and non-invasive, there is essentially no recovery time. Almost all patients are able to return to normal activities immediately after treatment. All the side effects associated with Thermage® are minor and generally temporary in nature.
Are there any side effects of treatment?
As with any other medical treatment, Thermage® treatment occasionally causes some side effects. These are generally very minor and almost always temporary. Some of the side effects associated with Thermage® include redness, swelling, blisters, bumps, and rarely some surface irregularities on the skin. In most cases, these side effects clear up in a short time, with no permanent damage or injury.
Risks and Benefits of Thermage® Treatment
The benefits of Thermage® are numerous. With the Thermage® treatment, dermatologists can smooth out wrinkles, tighten the skin, and redefine facial contours. Plus, there is very little recovery time associated with Thermage®, and daily routines can usually be resumed almost immediately.
Although rare, risks of Thermage® ThermaCool® skin tightening include redness in the treated area, swelling, and blisters. These potential side effects are infrequent and generally dissipate within a few days or weeks. Learn more about Thermage® risks and benefits.
Learn More about Thermage® from a Skin Specialist
The Thermage® ThermaCool® skin tightening system can rejuvenate your face and provide a youthful, healthy glow without the lengthy recovery and expense associated with traditional face lift procedures. If you would like to learn more about Thermage®, contact a skin care specialist in your area through DocShop.