Will a Laser-Lift Result in Facial Wasting Like Thermage Treatments?

I've read about Thermage's final outcome being loss of sub-cutaneous facial fat resulting in a much older appearance.

Doctor Answers 20

Laser facelift and Thermage facelift are a waste.

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High tech is appealing to surgeons and patients.  However, much of the new technology we see in aesthetic surgery doesn't work and may do harm.  If you want a facelift, seek out an experienced and talented surgeon.  If he instills confidence, let him do his job and you will be delighted.

Laser-assisted weekend necklift

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The laser assisted 'weekend' necklift represents the evolution of sophisticated facial plastic surgery techniques.These techniques are uniquely combined to achieve improvement in the contour of the chin and neck with minimal incisions and rapid recovery. Cervicofacial liposculpture is first employed to contour the unfavorable fatty changes seen in the face and neck as time passes by, such as the 'Turkey neck' and 'double chin'.Careful attention is then turned to tightening the neck muscles and eliminating neck bands.

Finally, the laser is used to 'resurface' the underside of the neck skin, thereby 'shrinkwrapping' the skin of the neck restoring a youthful contour. This innovative procedure may be performed at the same time as other rejuvenative procedures such as eyelid surgery, midface lifting, endoscopic browlifting and cosmetic laser skin resurfacing.

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Facial wasting Thermage and Laser Lift

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Any techniques that can damage underlying fatty tissue, can have the undesirable side effect facial wasting. I have seen one patient after Thermage procedure who reported loss of facial fat. I have not personally seen any patients after Smart lipo who reported the same, however, it is theoretically possible.

However, it is also important to remember that during facelift procedure the surgeon usually uses electrocautery to stop the bleeding. Electrocautery can also destroy small amounts of fatty tissue around the blood vessels that are cauterized.

With better understanding of facial anatomy and with better understanding of value of maintaining facial fullness,  we start looking at new technology with slightly more skepticism.

I believe, there is still a role for laser lipolysis, like Smart lipo, in improving the shape and contour of the neck, I'm not confident that I see a great benefit for Smart lipo in improving the shape of the face.


Boris Volshteyn M.D., M.S.

Boris Volshteyn, MD, MS
East Brunswick Plastic Surgeon

Laser face lift.

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There are a few individuals who claim benefits from the use of Thermage but it appears that a good number of patients are dissatisfied with treatments, In some instances it has even resulted in fat atrophy or necrosis.

Thermage and facelift

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Thermage when abused can cause fat atrophy. It can be good for very mild skin laxity in no way is it an alternative to a facelift.

Laser Lift

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Thermage is technique for radiofrequency deep tissue heating, and achieves a completely different result than any laser. The results from Thermage have not been as impressive as originally hoped. The term "laser lift" may refer to skin resurfacing, which can be achieved via CO2 or Erbium laser, delivered in Fractionated or standard delivery modes. It could also refer to laser assisted lipolysis which would refer to fat removal and skin tightening. It could also refer to a marketing "gimmick" : there is no established proof that use of a laser to make incisions and/or other aspects of a Facelift have any benefit over currently available techniques. Lastly, it could refer to use of fractionated laser resurfacing with a Facelift.

A general rule of thumb in cosmetic surgery is beware of catchy brand names that describe procedures.


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Hi.  The laser-lift is certainly an area in evolution.  Applying energy to the dermis - with some form of energy - can certainly cause some skin contraction, but it can also cause injury and scar formation.  Loss of fat can also occur with higher tissue temperatures.

The jury is still out on which laser and which settings are the best.  Be careful.

Thermage Worries

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Although not written about I have heard on a fat transfer panel that Thermage can cause loss of transferred fat even years later. I have not seen scientific literature that your native fat will disappear.
Thermage is not a laser. It is designed to cause skin contraction (to a small extent) and not to replace a facelift. Many of my patients have been disappointed in Thermage and we do not offer this technology.

Laser-assisted facelift and necklift

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Any technology if not properly understood and used appropriately can result in complications. Practitioners who warn you against these devices do so because they don't have the experience using them. Technology has improved almost every aspect of our normal daily lives. It has also transformed medicine and surgery. The most important aspect is making sure your physician understands the anatomy, can perform a traditional facelift, and has experience using traditional techniques and newer modalities. I agree that Thermage can cause some facial wasting but this is usually because the practitioner used the device in the wrong location and was too aggressive. A Laser- assisted facelift (or Laser-lift) provides good control of bleeding, melts fat, and tightens skin. The fat melting should only be directed in the neck. As long as your physician understands this you should not see facial wasting.

Kristina Tansavatdi, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Laser Lift and Fat Loss

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Laser skin resurfacing will not cause wasting.

Laserift or Smart Lift uses a laser in the subcutaneous layer and will necessarily involve some fat loss.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.