When Thermage first came on the scene, the results were all over the map. There were problems and pain and some patients saw no changes. How did something with such questionable outcomes stick around and survive?
Basics on Skin Tightening
First, some basics on skin tightening. Heat is the influencer in any treatment meant to tighten the skin. The problem has always been getting past the pain threshold to deliver enough heat to make a difference.
The natural response by the body to high heat levels is an activation of the fibroblasts which rush to start collagen generation. New collagen is smoother and tighter than old collagen, and for the most part, this is what helps Thermage do its job.
Protecting the surface skin is critical, so cryogen spray is used to super cool the epidermis long enough for the radio frequency heat to impact the deeper levels where the collagen lives. It’s a delicate balance and for some people with a low pain threshold, it’s simply much harder to get the heat levels high enough to trigger the desired collagen action.
What’s different about the “new” Thermage?
The “new” Thermage uses the same basic technology, but the company got smart and found a way to override the lower pain thresholds with vibration called CPT – which stands for comfort pulse technology (Cosmetic Dermatology Journal Abstract on CPT). By overloading the sensory nerves, the feeling of pain is dramatically lessened and we can get things hot enough to start the firming effect. Before, when a patient felt it was too hot, we had to turn down the energy and in effect, turn down the results.
We’ve also learned that patient selection is a bigger factor than we first thought. Someone who needs or expects a facelift is not going to be happy with Thermage or some other nonsurgical tightening treatment. The potential isn’t there. But for those who tailor their expectations, it can be something that is both subtle but satisfying…
How age affects effectiveness
Another factor we now take into consideration is age. Old skin is lazy skin and lazy skin is not efficient with collagen production. So, age does matter. Wait too long, and you might not see too much with a single treatment. But, you can have more than one. We understand some celebrities make Thermage an annual or semi-annual part of their appearance maintenance plan.
But Thermage with the new energy delivery tips with the vibrating handpiece is showing consistent firming in properly selected patients. Patience is important. The body takes about 6 months to complete that new collagen process.
Anyone reading this who’s had the “old” Thermage AND the “new” Thermage and care to comment on the difference?