One of the first questions patients ask about any cosmetic therapy is, “Does it work?” In speaking of thermage, at Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville, TN, we can happily say that yes, it does work. This treatment improves targeted areas of skin laxity to help you look younger, fresher, and more energetic. Do you need more reasons to consider it? Read on, because we have plenty.
What Are the Benefits of Thermage?
We are no longer a society that quietly accepts the effects of aging, meaning we’re always looking for the next product or therapy that will help rejuvenate our appearances. Skin laxity is a common concern that distorts the entire face. It’s caused by damaged collagen fibers and pulls down your features in a way that can age you well beyond your years.
Thermage is a treatment that delivers low amplitude radiofrequency energy in a very focused manner. When applied to the skin, it produces a selective and controlled rise in temperature. This, in combination with a chosen depth of heating, causes thermal damage to skin tissues and, in turn, stimulates collagen changes in the skin’s deepest layers – including subcutaneous tissue. You can therefore count collagen production as the first benefit this treatment provides.
It’s impossible to think of healthy skin without also thinking of collagen. A protein produced naturally by the body, it is also a key building block of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is a network of non-living tissues that provides shape and structure to cells. The words extra-cellular translate to outside the cell, in reference to where the matrix is located.
The other key component of the ECM is elastin, which provides skin with its snap-back strength so it remains taut. Collagen and elastin go hand-in-hand and stimulating the former causes the latter to also increase. The skin therefore becomes stronger and more resilient as an effect of treatment. It is especially efficient in tightening loose jowls, creases around the mouth, and fine lines across the eyelids.
Treatment does more than boost collagen production, however. It also breaks down old collagen so it can be replaced with stronger and healthier proteins. Think of this as a building renovation, in which old and crumbled foundational blocks are cleared and replaced with new. In your mind, you immediately know this serves to improve the building’s overall structural integrity. Treatment, which works in a similar manner, offers such benefits as:
- A smoother and more radiant complexion
- Skin that looks lifted and firmer
- Fewer lines and wrinkles
- Diminished acne scars
A boost in collagen will also help stave off additional signs of aging. As the underlying ECM is made stronger, small cracks that give way to wrinkles and fine lines are “filled in.” What we mean is the fibers and proteins of this matrix become thicker, which in turn plumps skin for as long as collagen production remains stable. This results in a more youthful complexion for longer.
A Silky Sheen to Skin
As your skin becomes smoother, it also regains its natural sheen. Consider this for a moment: a child’s skin possesses a sheen that is softer and more supple than that of an adult. We can attribute this to a few different factors, including more efficient cell turnover. This refers to the body’s natural way of replacing dull, dead skin cells with those that are new.
Generally speaking, cell turnover takes place every 28 days, although that window of time lengthens as we grow older. By the age of 50, turnover slows to about once every 50 days. This means dead cells sit for longer on the surface of the skin, contributing to a dull and tired complexion. Removing them and pushing healthy cells to the surface gives skin a satin-like sheen.
This therapy can be used in many different areas, including the:
Because of its versatility, treatment is ideal for tightening loose or sagging skin around the eyes (crow’s feet), in the forehead, and along the jawline. This last area – the jawline – is especially helpful in giving you a more youthful appearance. A sculpted jaw can showcase your natural contours, reveal the lines of your neck, and enhance your features.
Very Natural Results
At one time, the trend in aesthetic therapy was to give patients very pronounced results that quickly alerted others they’d had “work done.” That trend is thankfully behind us, and now we embrace treatments that enhance our beauty in subtle but visible ways. This treatment delivers these very results without making you look frozen or unnatural.
In this same vein, you can expect to see firmer skin within several days of treatment. As collagen production ramps up, results will continue to emerge in the coming three to six months. You’ll notice improvements relative to your skin’s tone, texture, and clarity throughout this time.
Quick and Simple
While a number of skin tightening treatments exist today, many pose obstacles of time for patients who lead busy lives. This therapy is unique in that it delivers the intended results with just one or two sessions. You can expect your appointment to last roughly one hour, but the trade-off is significant. Results can last around two years, which is substantially longer than many other treatments.
No Surgery Involved
We need to reiterate this treatment is non-surgical. Many people shy away from treatments because they don’t want anesthesia or to endure a lengthy recovery. You have neither with thermage; treatment is also pain-free and, in most circumstances, you can return to your normal activities immediately after. Surgery, on the other hand, often requires three to four weeks of healing.
And in case you’re wondering, this therapy is proven safe and effective. Studies published by the National Institutes of Health confirm radiofrequency can be used to correct laxity without harming surrounding tissues. Thermage is also FDA-approved and has been used to treat patients around the world with well-documented positive results.
Discussing Radiofrequency Energy
Radiofrequency energy has been used for more than 75 years in medical treatments. To help you understand how it works, thermage incorporates a hand-held device that delivers an electrical current to the skin. Cells in the treatment area meet that energy and naturally resist it as a means of protecting themselves. This resistance converts the radiofrequency energy into heat energy.
In turn, the heat causes two results. Almost immediately, hydrogen bonds that hold together individual collagen fibers break down; this causes each collagen chain to shorten and thicken, thus tightening the skin in a way that is almost instantly visible. To visualize this process, imagine eggs breaking down when you scramble them over heat. High temperatures affect collagen in a similar way.
But, as we mentioned earlier, the body does not allow damaged collagen to remain in place. It instead clears out these proteins, an act that alerts fibroblasts (cells) to produce new and healthy collagen. This is why additional improvements to your appearance will continue to develop in the coming months.
Heat also stimulates blood flow to the treatment site. An increase in circulation always leads to positive effects. For the face, this means a rosier and healthier complexion thanks to the oxygen and nutrients delivered by blood. But this is a two-way street, for blood also carries away toxins that can muddy the skin and contribute to overall degradation.
Penetrates to Skin’s Deepest Layers
The radiofrequency used by thermage is monopolar, instead of bipolar, meaning the current surges from the handpiece into the body but doesn’t travel back to the handpiece. This allows the heat to penetrate well below the skin’s surface, reaching the deepest tissue layers where real healing takes place.
This treatment is also non-ablative, meaning it does not harm the skin’s surface. All of the effects take place under the skin; you therefore won’t see any unwanted side effects like scabbing or bruising. While the surface of your face will stay around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, your deeper tissues will heat to between 149 and 167 degrees Fahrenheit. This crucial point happens to be where collagen denaturation occurs.
What to Expect
While every session is a little different to accommodate unique patient needs, some basic events that will happen during your treatment are as follow:
- We’ll photograph the treatment site to provide before and after comparisons
- The return pad will be placed on your back
- The treatment site will be thoroughly cleaned with alcohol
- We’ll do a test pulse to determine your heat tolerance
- Each pulse applied during treatment will be accompanied by cooling
After Treatment Care
You can extend the effects of your treatment by wearing sunscreen every day. This is just as important as your facial cleanser and moisturizer. Keep in mind that sun damage is the leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles; it damages the collagen in a much faster way than the natural aging process does and, as a result, contributes to sagging skin. And when you’re going outside, we additionally recommend you wear a wide-brimmed hat to safeguard your face.
As for food choices, you should know your diet will show in the health of your skin. You should therefore stay hydrated – skip the caffeine and sugar and opt for water instead – eat fruits and vegetables, and stay away from processed foods. You can also help your skin by reducing alcohol and nicotine intake; both can speed up the aging process and reduce treatment effects.
We encourage patients to maintain their results with recurring sessions performed once every two years. Some patients choose to schedule an annual session to ensure effects remain as optimal as possible. We can review this during your consultation appointment, at which time we’ll create a plan that takes into account your age, skin health, and treatment goals.
You can also supplement your effects, and achieve broader rejuvenation, by complementing this therapy with other treatments. Injectable dermal fillers, for example, can help restore lost volume to key areas in the temples, lips, and cheeks. Likewise, neurotoxins like Botox can further reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Combining treatments is common for patients who want to fully revitalize their appearances and boost their confidence.
A Treatment With Many Benefits
Thermage is quick, produces rapid results, and provides long-term improvements to your skin. You only need one or two sessions, and maintenance is recommended just once a year or every two years. It’s also safe, without unwanted side effects or inconvenient healing times. To learn how it can help achieve your desired aesthetic, contact Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville, TN, today.