What is Thermage® Skin Tightening?

Vicki Watson
Vicki Watson
Because Thermage skin tightening procedures are painful, some patients are given sedatives through intravenous lines.
Because Thermage skin tightening procedures are painful, some patients are given sedatives through intravenous lines.

Thermage® skin tightening is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that uses radio frequency energy to stimulate collagen production in skin. The desired result is smoother, tighter skin and a more youthful appearance. Thermage® is used in lieu of face lifts and for body sculpting to treat sagging skin in the abdominal area.

As Thermage® skin tightening is a non-invasive procedure, it treats signs of aging and sagging skin without requiring surgical incisions, as a traditional face lift would. Patients do not require general anesthesia, and the procedure involves very little recovery time. Patients often have a Thermage® treatment and return to work the next day. It has been reported, however, that some individuals may require several days to recuperate from the treatment.

The Thermage® skin tightening procedure utilizes a tool that delivers controlled heat energy deep into the layers of the skin while simultaneously applying a cooling spray to protect the surface of the skin. The radio waves penetrating the skin stimulate collagen production, resulting in firmer, fuller skin in treated areas. The combination of heating and cooling technologies seeks to produce younger-looking skin while avoiding surface damage to the skin.

Depending upon the size of the area being treated, a Thermage® procedure may take several hours. For instance, treatments limited to small areas of the face may only require a few minutes. More expanded treatments for body sculpting would take considerably longer.

Since the procedure is painful, patients will receive an anesthetic cream prior to treatment. Most patients tolerate the procedure without additional painkillers. Some patients may require IV sedation, however.

Very few patients experience side effects, such as swelling, redness, and blisters on the treated area. These issues typically resolve themselves within a few weeks after treatment. Some patients, however, may experience scarring that can last up to six months following the treatment.

While Thermage® skin tightening has benefits over other more invasive cosmetic procedures, some caveats do exist. For instance, results are not immediate and it may take up to six months for a patient to see the full benefit of the treatment. Additionally, studies suggest that only between 50-60% of patients were satisfied with the results of Thermage® treatment.

Thermage® skin tightening also does not permanently remove wrinkles or sagging skin. The effects typically last between six months and two years. Individuals seeking more significant, longer-lasting results might wish to investigate other surgical procedures. For those with mild signs of aging, Thermage® could be a viable alternative to more invasive and radical treatments.

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    • Because Thermage skin tightening procedures are painful, some patients are given sedatives through intravenous lines.
      Because Thermage skin tightening procedures are painful, some patients are given sedatives through intravenous lines.