We are pleased to announce that our practice now offers the Thermage® Tissue Tightening System, a radio frequency device designed to tighten and gently lift the skin and renew facial contours. The Thermage® treatment has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America and other news programs.
This new medical treatment is approved by the FDA for the non-invasive treatment of wrinkles and sagging skin around the face and eyes. It is safe and effective with minimal reports of long-lasting adverse effects. Over 70,000 treatments have been performed in the United States and Canada since the system was launched in September 2002.
The Thermage® procedure works by delivering radio frequency heat energy through a handpiece to the deep skin layers, while protecting the skin with a cryogen cooling plate. The heat causes the subsurface tissue and collagen to contract and tighten immediately. Over time, new and remodeled collagen is produced to further tighten the skin. Patients continue to improve for at least 6 months after a single treatment session. The majority of patients will see and feel an immediate improvement in skin tone with smoother, tighter skin. Most will notice additional tightening within 3 to 6 months. Results can last 4 years or longer, depending on the individual patient's natural aging process.
The face and neck are the most commonly treated areas with improvement to cheek folds, jowls, and laxity of the neck, forehead, brow and eyelids. The Thermage® procedure has been used to contour and tighten the skin of the abdomen and upper arms. It can also improve the appearance of acne scars and even induce long-lasting remission of active acne.
The procedure takes between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the size of the target area. With each touch of the Thermage® treatment tip, the patient experiences a brief, intense heating sensation as the collagen in the deep layers is tightened. Depending on the individual's pain tolerance, the treatment can be painful; therefore, tablets are usually given for relaxation and pain management. The treatment level is adjusted so the feeling of heat is tolerable. Patients may leave the office feeling somewhat drowsy and may need several hours to recover from the sedative medications. Their skin is usually a little pink for a few hours, less than a mild sunburn. One-third of patients have slight swelling, sensitivity to touch and tenderness in the treated areas which can last a few days, but they are usually able to return to work the next day. No special care is needed after treatment, other than the use of a good sunscreen.
Studies have shown that all patients will have some tightening and improvement in skin tone, with contraction of collagen and new collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin in response to a single treatment with the Thermage® System. If patients are selected properly, pleasing visible results have been found in 90% of patients after a single treatment. These patients experienced a noticeable improvement in their facial contours, folds and skin laxity.
The level of improvement will vary from one individual to another. Results depend on several factors, including the extent of sun damage, smoking and the amount of skin laxity. Results range from little or no visible improvement to a dramatic difference. Pictures are taken before and after the procedure so that, over time, the benefits of the treatment can be measured by both patients and medical staff. A second treatment after 5 or 6 months can provide further improvement. The option of a second treatment may be discussed during follow up visits to the office.
Ideal candidates for Thermage® treatment are middle-aged women who are starting to get prominent cheek folds, drooping jowls and early sagging of the neck, brow and eyelids.
Patients who desire the more dramatic result of a surgical face lift are poor candidates for Thermage® treatment. Similarly, those who have unrealistically high expectations of results are likely to be disappointed. A risk of the procedure is that the results that patients see are not the results they had in mind.
Some patients can expect a limited and slower response to treatment and are more likely to require a second treatment to achieve visible results. These patients include smokers and those who have severe sun damage, extreme sagging and very deep lines. Prominent muscle bands in the neck will not improve.
Adults of any age or ethnic group can be treated. Age is not a limiting indication for treatment with the Thermage® system, but patients older than 65 may have less of a response. People in this age group will be assessed for skin tone and a recommendation made concerning expected effectiveness. Everyone can get a little bit of tightening, but it is also possible to contour the face and neck. With new treatment protocols and new tips for the Thermage® handpiece, we can reduce heavy folds and fat bulges of the neck, jowls and cheeks. Patients with heavy faces often notice an improvement in contours of the face and neck. We expect to see many more exciting refinements and improvements in the procedure as the technology continues to develop.