Non-surgical skin tightening is one of the most exciting areas in cosmetic surgery. Radiofrequency devices such as Thermage transfer heat into the skin, resulting in immediate and delayed tightening and smoother skin contours. These treatments are extremely safe and tolerated well by patients.
Thermage is a novel, safe radio-frequency device that causes tightening of skin without surgery or injury to the skin’s top layer (epidermis). It was developed as the result of extensive research by Thermage, Inc (now Solta Medical).
Frequently asked Questions
How does Thermage work?
The epidermis is cooled and protected while deep, intense, uniform, sustained heat is delivered into the tissue underneath the surface of the skin. Upon heating, collagen, the structural framework of the skin, contracts which leads to tightening of loose skin. Further tightening is noted for up to 8 months following the procedure as a result of new collagen formation.
What areas can be treated?
The most common treatment areas are the cheeks, jawline, and neck. Some of the most exciting and innovative work has been done on other areas of the body including the abdomen, arms, buttocks, knees, and thighs. Using the deep tip, heat safely penetrates deeper into the dermis and subcutaneous tissue tightening, lifting, and firming the treated area. In addition, there is a special tip for tightening loose skin on the eyelids.
Some of the most exciting and innovative work has been done on other areas of the body including the abdomen, arms, buttocks, knees, and thighs. Using the deep tip, heat safely penetrates deeper into the dermis and subcutaneous tissue tightening, lifting, and firming the treated area. In addition, there is a special tip for tightening loose skin on the eyelids.
Is it painful?
Each pulse of the machine produces a sensation of heat in the area. Fortunately, this heat sensation lasts only a fraction of a second. The popular misconception is that Thermage hurts a lot. It does not. Over the last few years new techniques have been developed which have greatly reduced the pain associated with Thermage. Although newer techniques have made the procedure more tolerable, we recommend pre-medication with either an injection of Toradol or Demerol (for pain), and possibly an oral medication such as Valium or Ativan, which will help you relax. Depending on the medications given, you may need a ride home after this procedure.
How long will the procedure take?
The procedure itself may take anywhere from forty-five minutes to two hours, depending on the size of the area being treated.
Do I need special preparation?
You may continue to use your topical creams and any oral medications up until the time of the procedure. Please avoid wearing jewelry and makeup on the day of your appointment.
When can I return to my normal activities?
You may return to your activities immediately. The only downtime is that associated with the medications, and their effects typically subside in less than 6-8 hours. Redness is seen in some patients, but it disappears within a few hours. Swelling, particularly along the jaw line, is often subtle and usually resolves within one week. Bruising and pain are uncommon after the procedure. There is no special care needed afterwards.
When will the results show?
Although the results are seen immediately in some patients, in most the changes will occur gradually over 4 to 6 months. Since the effects are so gradual, the patient may not be aware of the extent of the improvement. Photographic comparison with pre-operative pictures can in some instances demonstrate the difference.
How many treatments will I need?
If laxity is mild one treatment will suffice, however with more moderate to severe laxity repeat treatments will be needed.
When can I have another treatment?
A decision regarding further treatment can be made as early as one month; however, since benefits are delayed, subsequent treatments are most commonly performed 3 months after the initial treatment.
How long will the effects last?
The studies to date demonstrate that there may be a variable response. However, in some studies the results have lasted over three years. Recent data from a number of physicians confirms that Thermage produces noticeable results in over 94% of patients treated.
How safe is it?
It is extremely safe. The incidence of adverse effects is extraordinarily small. Any skin tightening device can rarely cause excessive redness, textural changes including fat atrophy, however this is extremely rare, occurring in less than 1% of patients.