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What is Thermage?

Thermage is a non-surgical skin tightening procedure that effectively eliminates subtle signs of aging in the face.  Thermage is used to smooth out wrinkles, tighten the skin, and redefine facial contours.  During the thermage procedure, high levels of heat are applied to the area being treated using radio frequency energy.  During the healing process, collagen rebuilds itself and tightens the skin over time.

How does Thermage work?

Thermage works beneath the outer layer of skin called the dermis.  High levels of heat are applied to the treated area through radio frequency energy.  This application of heat to the dermis causes an immediate collagen contraction, and gradual collagen tightening to lift the skin.  Over time, the collagen rebuilds itself, and causes the skin to tighten, and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles.

What are Thermage treatments like?

Before the thermage procedure, individuals apply a topical anesthetic cream to the area of treatment.  The cream is applied an hour before the procedure, and it numbs the skin.  The topical cream prevents the patient from feeling pain during the procedure.  If the patient is especially susceptible to facial pain, painkillers or a mild sedative may be used.  Anesthesia is usually not used during the procedure. 

The thermage procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete.  It may take longer than 30 minutes if there is a larger area being treated.  After the procedure, the treated area is cooled, heated, and cooled again to make the patient more comfortable. 

Who is a candidate for Thermage?

Good candidates for the thermage procedure are individuals who want more subtle results with a quicker recovery time than are possible with surgical face lift procedures.  Thermage may also be beneficial for individuals who are developing folds and sagging in areas of the face, but are not considered suitable candidates for a surgical face-lift.  Before undergoing a thermage procedure, individuals should consult with a cosmetic dermatologist who can discuss their treatment options, and determine their candidacy for the treatment.

Who is not a candidate for Thermage?

Individuals who want a more dramatic effect from a facelift are usually not good candidates for the thermage procedure.  The thermage procedure is most ideal for patients interested in subtle changes.  Before undergoing a thermage procedure, individuals should consult with a cosmetic dermatologist who can discuss their treatment options and determine their candidacy for the treatment.

How many Thermage treatments are needed to achieve desired results?

Usually, individuals will see results after just one treatment and may continue to develop as the skin heals.  Results will vary from person to person.  Individuals should consult with a cosmetic dermatologist to discuss how many treatments will be needed to achieve the desired results.

Are Thermage treatments painful?

A topical cream is applied an hour before the procedure and numbs the area being treated.  If this cream is not applied evenly, or is not left on long enough before the procedure, the patient may feel pain during the treatment.  Most patients report feeling no pain, although they may feel a sensation of heat as the radio frequency energy is applied to the area.    

How long is the healing process for a Thermage treatment?

Most patients may return to their routine daily activities the following day.  Since the thermage procedure doesn’t harm the top layer of skin, there is no recovery time.  During the healing process, the treated area may become slightly lumpy, but this side effect usually goes away within a few days.  The lumpiness is a sign that the body has begun to heal.  Swelling and bruising may also occur on the treated area.

Is Thermage safe?

Thermage is a safe procedure.  After being studied in hundreds of patients in the USA, the thermage treatment has shown minimal adverse effects.  On rare occasions, small damage may occur to the skin.  The most common complications include routine swelling and bruising following the procedure.  Potential side effects include redness, swelling and blisters in the treated area.  The procedure is not considered risky, and anesthesia is usually not used.  In special circumstances, mild sedatives may be used.

What results can be expected from Thermage?

The results of the thermage procedure vary according to the patient’s skin and collagen fiber production.  Patients who have healthier skin tend to experience more dramatic results.  Over the months following the treatment, the patient’s skin should gradually improve.  The gradual improvements are a result of the skin tissues healing with gradual collagen production. 

How much does a Thermage treatment cost?

Due to the cost of the equipment, materials, sedation and medical fees Thermage averages between $1,000 and $5,000 per treatment. 

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: December 16, 2008

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