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Thermage – Just the Facts

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012 by Dr. Babak Dadvand

In my review of non-surgical technologies I decided to write a blog about Thermage. What is it, what does it do, what does it not do, and who are good candidates for this modality?

Thermage is a non-invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency waves applied to skin. This leads to heat injury to the deeper structures in the skin, which can then lead to tightening of the collagen as well as increase the skin collagen content. In short, it is supposed to tighten skin from the inside out (as opposed to chemical peels and lasers that affect the skin from the surface downward). It requires multiple sessions and skin tightening is not immediate. In fact, there can be skin tightening for 3-6 months after treatments.

The key to having a positive experience with Thermage is to understand its limitations. The ideal candidate is someone who only needs 1-2mm of skin tightening, typically people with thin faces, early jowling, and early loosening of the skin. People who are not good candidates are those with very loose skin, sagging jowls, and “turkey gobbler” necks.

The reported incidence of side effects is <1% and includes swelling, redness, risk of burns or blisters, tingling, or contour abnormalities (especially in the face) when the heat penetrates to the subcutaneous fat causing fat atrophy.  The results typically last 6-24months before the patient needs another session. Finally, the cost can range $1000-$5000 per treatment.

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