Who’s a good candidate for Thermage treatment? | Thermage vs. Ultherapy

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Nonsurgical procedures are an excellent option for people who cannot have surgery or wish to go with a noninvasive treatment. 

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, these treatments are best suited for people who have mild to moderate skin laxity but do not require the dramatic lifting only possible with surgery. 

See your doctor

The best way to know which procedure is right for you is to schedule a consultation with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. They can help you decide if you are a candidate for Ultherapy or Thermage. {Thermage treatment}

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin-tightening procedures are not right for anyone: 

  • with a skin infection
  • who is pregnant
  • who takes certain medications

Candidates for Ultherapy

In general, candidates for Ultherapy have some degree of skin laxity under the neck or chin or wrinkles on the chest, especially if you want to treat the skin around the neck and décolleté. 

Candidates for Thermage

Thermage is recommended if you’re middle-aged and do not need a surgical facelift or want to go with a non-invasive approach. You should have mild to moderate skin sagging in these areas: 

  • neck
  • jowls
  • cheek
  • brows 
  • eyelids

Thermage is also a good choice if you want to target larger areas like the thighs and abdomen. 

A 2019 studyTrusted Source also reports that RF-based systems are appropriate for any skin type. 

How do I prepare for each procedure?

The preparation for each procedure is relatively the same. Since they’re nonsurgical procedures, there’s not much you need to do before arriving at the office. 

For both treatments, come with a clean face, free of skin products and makeup. You may also want to avoid chemical treatments and facial peels prior to treatment.  {Thermage treatment}

What happens during each procedure?

Both Thermage and Ultherapy are done in-office with little to no downtime. 

That said, there are differences in how each procedure is performed. 

Thermage

  1. Your provider will use a hand-held device to deliver radiofrequency energy into the dermal tissue of the targeted area. You’ll likely feel a brief sensation of heat each time it’s used. 
  2. Total time depends on the skin being treated. In general, Thermage can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

According to a 2020 review of studiesTrusted Source, a cooling spray will protect the skin surface, helping reduce any pain you may experience during the procedure.

Ultherapy

  1. Your provider will thoroughly clean the area before applying the ultrasound gel. 
  2. Your provider will place the Ultherapy device on the targeted site while using an ultrasound viewer to determine the appropriate settings to deliver ultrasound energy to your brow line, chin, neck, or chest. 
  3. This will continue for 30 to 90 minutes depending on the treatment area. The chest or décolleté takes about 30 minutes, while the face and neck can require 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

It’s not uncommon to experience intermittent feelings of heat and tingling during the treatment when the device is delivering ultrasound energy into your skin.

What result can I expect from Thermage and Ultherapy?

Thermage results vary and depend on the treatment area. 

In general, most people see gradual results over 2 to 6 months following one Thermage session. Depending on your skin, results last 1 to 2 years. 

Ultherapy results appear over 2 to 3 months as new collagen lifts skin on the neck and chin. Results may improve over 3 to 6 months and can last a year, though multiple treatments may be required. 

According to a 2014 study, improvements in skin laxity were observed 3 months after an Ultherapy procedure in 58.1 percent of the 93 people who received the treatment. 

Overall improvements were seen in 63.6 percent of the 93 people in the study after 90 days. 

While most people see results with one treatment, some may require more than one visit. To maintain results, you may need an Ultherapy treatment once a year. 

Should I check with a doctor first?

In general, Thermage and Ultherapy are safe. 

But if you have preexisting medical or skin conditions, talk with a doctor or see a board certified dermatologist for a consultation and approval before either of these procedures. 

You cannot receive either Thermage and Ultherapy if:

  • you’re pregnant or nursing
  • you have an implanted pacemaker
  • you have an implanted cardioverter/defibrillator (ICD)

Because Thermage uses RF radiation, some people may have concerns about exposure to low levels of radiation. If this is a concern, talk with a doctor about the risk and how it applies to your health.