In the race to keep a radiant, youthful appearance, more and more cosmetic procedures are popping up. Instead of the more invasive procedures that can leave you bed-ridden for weeks, there are now skin-tightening options that can help you look younger with less pain and recovery time. The results are astounding – without having to actually go under the knife.
Of this new generation of skin tightening procedures, the most popular are Thermage and Titan. These treatments utilize different proprietary technology, however the basic idea is the same – heat the deeper layer of the skin to initiate a ‘healing response’ within. This produces more collagen and helps remodel existing collagen. The underlying tissues, which provide support, contract – resulting in a tighter appearance to the skin.
These procedures are both quite new, with little evidence of what the long-term effects on the skin will be. However, both have been used with dramatic results on the face and other areas of the body. The face and neck treatments provide the best results, although both treatments are showing improvements to the sagging skin of the stomach, arms, butt and thighs, with cellulite reduction as well.
These treatments are not done with ablative lasers nor are they a form of chemical peel. There is no removal of the top layer of skin, which makes the treatments suitable for darker skin as well. And not only is the cost less than a surgical face lift, it’s also completely non-invasive (no cutting of the skin), to remove the need to take leave from work.
The downtime after such a procedure is quite minimal. Although some may experience swelling, redness or temporary skin blanching, most patients receive local anesthetic and/or painkillers, and each skin-tightening procedure incorporates some form of skin-cooling advantage during the treatment itself. In some cases, bumps, blisters,and pigmentation changes have been reported. Cases of scarring or infection are extremely rare.
The cost of the procedure depends on the size of the area, and the type of skin tightening procedure you decided on. On average, each treatment can be anywhere from $500 to $5000. Thermage is usually more expensive, however, only one treatment is required. Titan requires 1-3 treatments, which will be determined by your doctor.
The differences between the top two contenders in the skin-tightening field are the mechanism by which the skin is heated. Thermage uses radio-frequency energy, while Titan uses infrared. The lesser-known systems also use these technologies. Although there is no long-term effectiveness study for either procedure, some doctors believe the infrared technology is superior since it provides a more even and controlled heating of the tissue.
Since the results vary – and can take up to 6 months for the collagen to finish the remodeling process – these procedures will not deliver the same results as a surgical face lift. Results depend on the condition and thickness of the skin, as well as individual healing responses and lifestyle variables. Skin-tightening procedures are best for those who are trying to put off more invasive procedures, or for those for whom surgery is not an option.