Sagging skin getting you down? As we age, so does our skin – this is an inevitability. Wrinkles and lines appear deeper and the contours on our face appear less well defined. Why does this happen? The main reason for age related skin changes like wrinkling and sagging is the loss of collagen in our skin. Collagen fibres act as a scaffold or foundation around which the skin is supported so when the collagen fibres diminish or loosen with time, the skin ‘collapses’ around it and leads to the changes that we’ve mentioned.
Non-invasive Skin Tightening Treatments – What are your Options?
Skin tightening treatments are available to prevent and reverse wrinkling and sagging skin. These treatments can be broadly divided into invasive (e.g. face lift surgery), minimally invasive (e.g. threadlift procedures) and non-invasive treatments (e.g. Thermage RF and HIFU treatments). This is to cater to different treatment requirements and preferences as determined by the severity of the patient’s skin condition as well as the patient’s comfort level with undergoing skin tightening treatment.
Non-invasive skin tightening treatments have become very popular with patients who have mild to moderate skin wrinkling and those who are not comfortable with more invasive methods of treatment. Non-invasive treatments do NOT involve incisions or use of foreign material like threads to achieve the tightening and lifting results. Thus, these non-invasive skin tightening treatments have proven to be very effective while resulting in minimal downtime post-treatment.
The two most popular and well established non-invasive treatment modalities available in today’s market are Radiofrequency (RF), e.g. Thermage and Ultrasound (US), e.g. HIFU, based treatments.
How does HIFU work?
Popularised in S. Korea, this technology is referred to as High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, but better known as HIFU. As the name suggests, this is the use of highly magnified ultrasound waves to generate heat in precisely targeted layers of the skin.
Treatment of each layer produces different benefits:
– Treatment at a depth of 3.0mm promotes tightening of collagen fibres and generation of
new collagen as well. This translates to the progressive tightening of the skin.
– Treatment at a depth of 4.5mm targets the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS) and the heat generated here causes contraction of this layer and the resultant lifting of the skin.
The superficial skin is normally spared as the HIFU beams are targeted into the deeper layers of the skin. Hence, this non-invasive treatment has minimal downtime as compared to treatments which require surgery.
Thus, HIFU can be used as a preventive treatment as well as to reduce existing fine lines while also effective in tightening the skin and giving a much desired lifting effect.
The results of the HIFU treatment are expected to last for about 12 months although patients with a greater severity of sagging may benefit in a repeat treatment after 6 months for optimal results.
How does Thermage work?
Thermage is a very well-established and premium non-invasive skin rejuvenation and tightening procedure. Thermage works using radiofrequency waves, penetrating deep into the skin to stimulate your body’s natural renewal of collagen, resulting in skin tightening and contouring.
Thermage is FDA approved for the non-invasive treatment of facial wrinkles, and is also the only system which is FDA- approved for non-invasive treatment of the eyelids. Thermage treatment, when done appropriately results in improved skin texture, tauter skin as well as a more defined youthful facial contour. Wrinkles and saggy skin in the treated area are smoothened out and become less obvious, resulting in a more refreshed appearance.
How is it done?
During the procedure, your doctor controls the amount of RF energy, to produce optimal results while maintaining your comfort. The RF energy is delivered via a tip that is applied to your skin and this energy uniformly heats up the collagen in the dermis resulting in an immediate tightening. New collagen is also stimulated and your skin actually progressively improves over time, finally resulting in tighter, smoother skin and a more youthful appearance.
Using the new Thermage CPT ensures that the RF energy is delivered effectively to the treated area while maintaining your maximum comfort during the procedure. The entire procedure may require about 1 hour, depending on the size of the area to be treated.
The results last for about 12 months but your doctor may advise you on an appropriate interval between your Thermage treatments.
Which non-invasive skin tightening treatment is suitable for you?
As you can probably tell from the information provided so far, both procedures are effective ways of treating saggy and wrinkling skin while resulting in little or no downtime. What are the differences between the two treatments and which one is more suitable for you?
– The main difference is the different types of energy used. HIFU uses high intensity focused ultrasound energy while Thermage uses radiofrequency energy.
– Thermage is the only FDA-approved treatment for use on the eyelids.
– HIFU allows targeting of different layers including the SMAS layer which allows a greater lifting effect.
– Both treatments may result in slight discomfort during treatment but you can rest assured that the physician will do his utmost to ensure your comfort during the entire procedure and afterwards as well.
– Both treatments are available at different price points as well and may appeal to you if you have a certain budget in mind.
So, which treatment is most suitable for you? The best way to find out is to have a consultation with an experienced and trained physician as he’ll be in the best position to advise you. In some cases, both may not be suitable whereas in other cases, a combination of both may be used! You can rest assured we’ll do our utmost to tailor make the most effective and suitable treatment for you.
Look out for the next blog post where I’ll be talking about threadlifts and how they can be used to achieve your ideal face shape and contour!