I’m a self proclaimed plastic surgery aficionado so naturally I’ve heard about Thermage. I knew they were the pioneer in non-invasive skin tightening. I knew that their technology was ground breaking in its day and that they had many competitors follow in their footsteps. I’d also heard it hurt and sometimes the results weren’t as dramatic as one would hope.
In fact when we were given the opportunity to do this story on Thermage and Dr. Grant Stevens, we had a call come into the office from a plastic surgeon’s office who we confused with Dr. Stevens office. I started to speak about how excited I was to experience and find out more about Thermage and the nurse’s reply shocked me. She said “Oh no, we don’t use that here in this office, it doesn’t work very well and it hurts.”
(Now before you think this is a story with an unhappy ending, just hang on for a few paragraphs. I’m just trying to set you up.)
After being taken aback for a moment I realized that I wasn’t speaking to the doctors office I thought and of course was intrigued as to what they had against Thermage.
A few days later I went into this doctors office to talk to them and found out they had other surgeons in their offices with experience using Thermage in the nineties and that the results were painful and unsatisfactory and they refused to use the technology.
As an aside I left the office having been consulted by this surgeon that I was a very good candidate for a face lift. I was quoted a “friends price” of $43,000. Needless to say I was freaked out that I’m even close to being a candidate for a face lift. Don’t people get those when they’re in their Sixties? And who has $43,000 just lying around these days? What on earth was I going to do now and on top of that they said Thermage didn’t work and it hurt, it hurt real bad. Oh, no!
I found myself in the office of another surgeon maybe a week later. I wanted to know what this man had to say about my horridly aging face. I didn’t tell him anything about the facelift guy or Thermage I just asked him what I needed. He recommended Botox and some Juvederm. He told me other than that I was to young and that even getting my eye bags removed was premature and that I was nowhere near needing to get “cut” that I wouldn’t get any “bang for my buck” and I should save myself the time, pain and money. There were plenty of techniques available today to give me what I was looking for. That didn’t involve lots of money or surgery.
Now let’s talk about what I think of my face. I know I needed something. I was starting not to look like myself. I was beginning to not know who that person was staring back at me in the mirror. Nothing dramatic it was just different. Lots of people would say it was nothing to get freaked out about. Only I really liked the tightened look when the first surgeon pulled up on my check and I no longer had the sagging. I also really liked the surgeon who told me to save my money and that I didn’t need anything drastic yet. So what to do? I wanted tighter firmer skin. I wanted not to spend tens of thousands of dollars and I didn’t want to put myself through a lot of pain. What to do, what to do? Where does a girl turn when she wants her skin tightened, countered and yet doesn’t want surgery? I just bet you know what I’m going to say. How about trying Thermage? After all like I mentioned before they are the pioneers in nonsurgical skin tightening.
Whew! That took a long time to get to the point of this article, even for me. I just really wanted to take you on this ride with me. Moving right along, I spoke to the folks at Thermage and they admitted that in the past there were people who experienced some of the symptoms I had been told about. They also informed me that they had a new campaign out because they had added new technology and improved their machines. Below I’ve listed the new changes
For you techies out there:
The improved machine is called the Thermage CPT System and it represents a leap forward in skin tightening and contouring technology. Superior results and greater patient comfort are at the core of this new system, which leverages their proprietary Comfort Pulse Technology™ and a vibrating handpiece for more comfortable treatments. Also an improved efficacy due to more uniform heating and increased volume of tissue reaching therapeutic temperature.
Their new energy delivery algorithm interweaves pulsed radiofrequency delivery with cooling bursts mimicking Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation ("TENS") therapy, to disrupt the brain's neural response and improve comfort during treatment.
For you non techies:
The handpiece which delivers the radiofrequencies vibrates and the vibration disrupts the pain sensations going to your brain and so you feel less pain. The tip of the handpiece is also a little larger allowing a greater volume of tissue to be heated to target temperatures. The heating is also more evenly distributed across the treatment area.
To sum it up:
The new improvements make the treatment more comfortable and yield better results than ever before. Also, I don’t think I really described exactly what is happening. How I understand it, the radiofrequencies actually damage the collagen in the skin. Your body gets busy rebuilding the damaged collagen by making fresh new collagen. The results of which are firmer tighter skin. How awesome does that sound?
Back to my experience:
I went in to Marina Del Rey to Dr. Grant Stevens office and met with Carla. Carla gave me a consultation we talked about what Thermage was and what to expect. Like the redness from the treatment would soon dissipate. This means I wouldn’t have any down time and if I had been working I could have done this procedure over a long lunch and been back to work with no one knowing. Then there was the fact that I shouldn’t expect to see immediate results it could take from 3 -6 months to see the benefits of the treatment. This is because the skin has to have time to rejuvenate itself.
When it came time to do the treatment I was asked to wash my face. Then Carla tattooed a temporary grid on my face. The grid was designed for the technician to follow during the treatment. It helps them keep track of the areas of the face they are working on. Carla had a certain amount of times she would use the machine over each area of my face and then she would periodically tell me, we have so many pulses left and are then moving on to another area.
What it felt like:
It felt like someone had a vibrator held to my face and at times it tickle -itched, at times it was just the vibrating feeling. There was an occasional jolt that was semi painful, more of a sharp stinging sensation than painful. When this occurred it was because the wand was over a cluster of nerves. This is where the vibration was helpful because it would jolt with a sting and then a second later it would have the vibration and the jolting feeling seemed to be soothed. I never experienced more than one jolt at a time and they were always followed by the vibrating feeling which let me relax after I’d tensed up from the jolt. The oddest sensation for me was whenever Carla got close to my nose the vibration made me want to sneeze. In fact I had to stop her, a couple of times so I could sneeze.
When we were finished with the treatment, she wiped the grid of my face and put on some sunscreen and I was able to go on with my day.
Before leaving the office I took a quick look at myself in the mirror. My face was bright red and sore looking. By the time I got out to my car it had lessened significantly and on the drive home all the red went away completely. For about the first hour I had that hot tight sunburn sensation on my face. After about an hour the sunburn sensation went away and I felt completely normal almost as if nothing had happened.
Now for the good stuff:
I know Carla said not to expect to see any changes in my face for a few months. But I swear when I looked at myself in the car mirror, my face looked tighter. Most notably the marionette lines from the side of my mouth to my chin, also the ones from the nose to the mouth. As, I continued to stare at myself in the mirror over the next couple of weeks, it seemed like my face kept changing before my eyes. Then it seemed to reach a point where I didn’t notice any additional changes. It’s been 2 months now and I am pleased with the results. Especially considering that I’m not supposed to see the final results for a few more months.
There is one problem that I can forsee with the Thermage treatments. I think it may become addictive because not only does it work on the face but it can be used on the body for contouring and tightening. Some areas of the body that can be treated are the wrinkled, crepey or sagging skin on the tummy, knees, arms, legs, or buttocks. Saggy skin or unwanted bulges after pregnancy or weight loss. Even the loose, crepey skin on your hands can be improved.
Thermage is reasonably priced, not as drastic as surgery and contains technological advances that may point to the future of cosmetic procedures. I saw immediate changes that appealed to me, as well as a quick recovery time. As an alternative to more invasive procedures I would suggest investigating Thermage for yourself and your specific needs as it may be a very effective, albeit slower, way to smoother, firmer skin.
For more information contact your plastic surgeon or log onto www.thermage.com