Thermage is no new-comer to the world of non-invasive skin tightening. It was introduced in 1995, and received FDA approval for the treatment of facial wrinkles in 2002. In 2006, it received additional FDA approval to treat wrinkles and rhytides anywhere on the body, including the eyelids. And in 2007, Thermage was FDA approved for the improvement in the appearance of cellulite. It took the world by storm after Oprah Winfrey featured the procedure on her talk show in 2003. Women all over the world, including many celebrities, became fans of this revolutionary procedure.
We have been performing the Thermage procedure since 2003, and until today, it remains a very popular procedure, for a good reason – it is still one of the best skin-tightening procedures available today.
Unique Radiofrequency Technology
Thermage uses monopolar capacitively coupled radiofrequency (RF) energy to tighten and contour skin. The unique monopolar technology enables it to penetrate deeper than lasers, into the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. There, the fibrous septae provide the path of least resistance for the energy, which enables selective heating of septae collagen skin tightening.
This top-down heating profile allows Thermage to treat all the superficial skin problems – wrinkles, pores, texture, and even pimples (though treating acne is an off label use and not FDA approved). Hence, Thermage is excellent for improving skin texture. Its superior heating technology also makes Thermage a one-time procedure, unlike lasers. Amazingly, each treatment lasts up to 2-3 years.
I have tried many other skin tightening procedures, such as infrared light and bipolar radiofrequency devices, but none can heat up the skin as much as Thermage, and hence, none can give similar significant and long lasting results. The deep penetration in the subcutaneous tissue gives the additional benefit of being able to melt away fat and slim down the silhouette, whether on the double chin, cheeks, or abdomen and arms.
A Long Journey – Thermage CPT
Thermage has come a long way. Since its inception in 1995, Solta, the company behind it, has continually improved the system to make it safer and more effective. Many of my patients are very worried of skin dimpling after Thermage – this was a fear complication with the initial platforms, as the heating profile was not as uniform, causing fat necrosis and scarring. With the new Thermage platforms, and latest CPT platform, this complication no longer happens.
Introduction of the larger body tip has also allowed us to perform faster, more comfortable, and more effective treatments.
The newest upgrade is the Thermage CPT platform (Comfort Pulse Technology), introduced a year ago. To be honest, I was not a big fan of Thermage until this new platform came along. Thermage CPT incorporated vibration into its treatment tip, making the treatment much more comfortable. The tip design and software has also been upgraded to deliver even more uniform heating. These changes translate to better results, and more comfortable treatments. Thermage used to be notorious for being excruciatingly painful, but with the CPT platform, treatment is now a walk in the park – virtually painless!
Combination Therapy with Ulthera
Thermage works hand-in-hand with my other favourite skin tightening procedure: Ulthera. Thermage heats the skin from top down, while Ulthera heats the skin from inside out, as shown in the diagram here. Hence, the 2 procedures work synergistically to give a 3-Dimensional non-invasive face lift.
One of the most common questions I get asked is which procedure is better – Thermage or Ulthera? The truth is, both procedures are excellent, and each one is better at different things. Thermage treats all the problems in the dermis – texture, pores, wrinkles, firmness, while Ulthera excels at treating even deeper layers like the SMAS to give lifting against gravity. Hence, my answer : have both procedures done, to reap maximal benefits.
Stopping Ageing in its Tracks – Early
Another big misconception about Thermage is that you should only get it done after your skin sags beyond repair. This is not true at all. Anti-ageing treatments like lasers and Thermage should be done preventively, before the skin loses all its collagen. This way, your youthfulness will be maintained. Once the skin sags and loses its elasticity, it is very difficult to restore it to its former glory. On the other hand, if you start early, and maintain the skin in its youthful state, you essentially stop ageing in its tracks!
Canadian Supermodel Linda Evangelista is a huge fan of Thermage and has it done regularly to prevent ageing, while actress Ellen Barkin is such a believer that she is known to have a mini-Thermage (a partial Thermage treatment, done mainly to prevent ageing) done 3 times a year.
I rushed to have Thermage done on myself before the Chinese New Year after many people commented that my double chin was becoming very obvious.
The procedure was so painless I could do it on myself, with some topical anesthesia. I did get a little headache from the vibrating tip though. What you see on my face in the video below is the treatment grid we apply onto the patient’s face to guide our treatment.
The double chin has since disappeared. 🙂