Thermage is a non-surgical skin rejuvenation technique that heats deep skin layers. This heating is presumed to stimulate the skin, causing it to tighten. Thus Thermage is designed to tighten aging or damaged skin.
Thermage uses a monopolar radiofrequency energy to heat the skin. Radiofrequency energy has been used in medicine and surgery for decades to ablate (destroy) tissue. For example, radiofrequency ablation has been used to ablate regions of the heart to treat atrial fibrillation. In contrast to ablative procedures, though, Thermage does not heat the tissue to the point of destruction.
Thermage skin tightening is a non-surgical procedure meaning the skin is not broken or cut during the procedure. A device that looks like an ultrasound probe is placed on the skin after the area has been coated in a lubricant. A pulse of radiofrequency energy is delivered through the handheld Thermage device and the process is repeated in sections over the area to be treated. The entire process takes less than an hour.
One recent innovation that has replaced older Thermage devices is the Thermage CPT system. When patients had Thermage treatment with the older device, they complained of mild to moderate pain because of the heating process. To overcome this pain, the makers of Thermage incorporated a vibrating head into the wand. The vibration of the local skin disrupts the nerves and nerve endings that would normally carry pain signals to the brain. When compared head to head, Thermage treatment with the vibrating device was uniformly preferred by patients over the older device.
Thermage CPT has replaced the older Thermage devices. In fact, in countries where the newer vibrating device is approved and sold, the older non-vibrating device is no longer available for purchase. However, many physicians purchased the rather expensive Thermage equipment before the release of the vibrating head system. Therefore it is important to ask your treatment provider if they have the Thermage CPT or vibrating device before you consent to treatment.
Even with this vibrating head, Thermage side effects or complications include pain during the procedure. Also, patients report pain during the skin’s reaction and healing process. Most commonly, though, patients report that they do not see any results from Thermage or the results were barely noticeable.
Thermage treatment is gaining ground in the medical community as scientific and clinical studies are published using the technique. Thermage skin tightening has been shown effective in the treatment of sagging eyelids and in sagging skin. When Thermage treatment was combined with a pulsed dye laser, a Korean surgical group found that it could reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Despite this research, Thermage skin tightening is not yet universally accepted as an effective treatment. This appraisal may change as the technology is used in more clinical trials.
Thermage cost varies widely depending on your region of the country and world. Reported costs range from $1,500 to $7,500 but the average Thermage cost is around $2,700. As the technology becomes more widely available, Thermage cost may decrease, however patients may need to pay a higher surgeon’s fees for the Thermage CPT (vibrating apparatus).