Thermage treatment for rejuvenation without surgery...
Article by Michael H. Rosenberg, MD
White Plains Plastic Surgeon
. Although most plastic surgery procedures require downtime for healing and recovery, we have seen an increasing trend to cosmetic procedures with minimal to no recovery time required. From Botox and Dysport to the various fillers on the market, from skin care and peels to different laser treatments, there is a greater emphasis on less invasive cosmetic procedures. One of the more exciting of the newer procedures is a new type of resurfacing treatment called Thermage. It uses radiofrequency energy to generate heat that smoothes and contours wrinkled skin, and because of its computer guided cooling of the outer layer of the skin, recovery is almost immediate.
Normal skin is composed of an outer epidermal layer, an inner dermal layer, and then a deeper layer of tissue and fat. Collagen is a major structural component of the skin, residing in the deeper layers. Skin wrinkling and contour changes associated with aging and sun damage reflect changes in Collagen with loss of elasticity and structural integrity.
Laser treatments are designed to both tighten the existing collagen and promote the production of new younger Collagen leading to healthier looking skin. The major breakthrough with Thermage system is that it uses Radiofrequency rather than light energy to heat the collagen. The initial reaction is tightening of the collagen reflecting an intial change in the appearance of the overlying skin. Thermage also initiates the process of regeneration of new collagen which has its maximal effect after six months, and can last for years. Most importantly, however, is the computer guided chip in the tip of the device which fires a cooling spray simultaneous with the Radiofrequency wave. This protects the outer surface of the skin from heat damage while not interfering with the effects on the deeper Collagen. More practically, what this does is allow Thermage to improve the appearance of the skin without the peeling and redness associated with older,more traditional lasers. It also allows Thermage to be used on any skin type, and multiple areas of the body. In addition to the face, we commonly use Thermage for smoother more contoured skin in the abdomen, thighs, and upper arms.
Thermage is usually provided as a single treatment that typically has effects that last for years. It is designed as an interactive procedure between surgeon and patient, and can be done comfortably without anesthesia. Often, patients will have some premedication orally and then they are awake for the procedure. As the treatment is ongoing, they give feedback to the surgeon on the level of discomfort they are feeling. At the conclusion of the procedure, patients have little to no pain and can put on their make-up if they like before going home. Like any medical treatment, Thermage needs to be used under the direct supervision of a medical professional, and in that situation it is a very safe procedure. There are immediate benefits followed by continued improvement over a six month period.