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Clash of the Tighteners: Thermage® vs. ReFirme

Clash of the Tighteners: Thermage® vs. ReFirme


Scores of women – and an increasing number of men – are perpetually seeking the latest weapon to add to their anti-aging arsenals. Many are looking for a less invasive alternative to the plastic surgeon's scalpel. BOTOX® was the buzz word of the 20th century, but now skin tightening treatments Thermage® and ReFirme™ are battling to take the big B's place as the darling of gerascophobes everywhere.

ReFirme™ Hits the Small Screen

Fans of The Rachael Ray Show may have tuned in to watch Robin McGraw – Mrs. Dr. Phil – share tips on looking great after 50. While McGraw extolled the virtues of ReFirme™, crediting it with helping her look vastly younger than her 53 years, San Diego dermatologist Tess Mauricio gave Ray a taste of the ReFirme™ treatment.

Dr. Mauricio also explained the secret of ReFirme™. Using a combination of bi-polar radio frequency and optical energy, ReFirme™'s revolutionary elōs™ technology heats the dermal tissue, stimulating the renewal of collagen.

Unlike ReFirme™, Thermage® is not considered a laser skin tightening treatment. Its capacitive radio frequency technology, called ThermaCool™, uses radio frequency waves, but elōs™ technology adds electrical energy. Both treatments, however, heat the dermal tissue, promoting collagen production.

The Collagen Effect

Collagen, and its cohort elastin, is vital to maintaining a healthy body. Together, they provide the firmness, strength, and flexibility essential to the tissues of the lungs, bones, tendons, blood vessels, and other parts of the body.

Though naturally present in our bodies, collagen degrades over the years, leading to the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin. As an injectable, collagen can help fill wrinkles. But many skin care professionals believe that it is more effective to stimulate the body's natural production of collagen than to inject it. Injectable collagen is restricted in its efficacy since it targets only a limited area, but Thermage® and ReFirme™ treat multiple areas at a time and can be used on certain areas of the body as well as the face.

The Great Debate

Both Thermage® and ReFirme™ boast a non-invasive, "virtually painless" procedure with no down-time. They are also both FDA cleared for use in the treatment of wrinkles and can be used on skin of all types and colors. Estimated to last approximately six months, the benefits of Thermage® and ReFirme™ include tightening and firming of the skin, wrinkle reduction, and smoother skin.

In light of the similarities between Thermage® and ReFirme™, how can those seeking tighter, firmer, smoother skin ever hope to decide between them? To understand the distinctions, we just need to ask the right questions:

How many treatments are necessary?

With Thermage®, most patients need only one treatment to see results, whereas ReFirme™ normally requires three to five treatments, scheduled three to four weeks apart. The cost of one Thermage®treatment, however, is similar to that of an entire course of ReFirme™, depending on a variety of factors.

How long does it take to see results?

ReFirme™ offers results that are gradual and cumulative. Alternatively, some patients have reported noticing immediate results with Thermage® with gradual improvements over two to six months as new collagen forms.

What are the side effects?

Mild redness, swelling, and blisters are possible with Thermage®; in rare cases, irregularities of the surface of the skin may occur. The maker of ReFirme™, on the other hand, states on its website that ReFirme™ has no side effects.

Thermage® and ReFirme™ are just two of the skin tightening technologies designed to meet the needs of patients seeking alternatives to both needle and knife. However, as with any procedure, there are both risks and benefits. Patients are always encouraged to select a qualified cosmetic dermatologist to perform their treatment.

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