Thermage Facelift in Singapore
Thermage is well known as a premium, non-invasive skin tightening and lifting procedure. The latest Thermage CPT system is supposed to tighten skin, lift saggy features and smoothening wrinkles with minimal downtime and increased comfort.
Ageing skin loses collagen in the deep skin layers. This causes wrinkles to form and sagging to happen. Thermage is FDA approved technology which uses heat (radiofrequency) to tighten and lift skin by stimulating collagen in the skin.
This was great news to people looking for a needle-free, completely non-surgical way to lift droopiness and erase wrinkles.
In my opinion, it became popular because it promised people a visible result from one session, especially so for the fine lines and sagging eyelids for the upper face.
Normal skin (top) VS Aging skin (bottom)
What About Thermage Side Effects?
Thermage has recently come under a lot of scrutiny. On Realself.com, an online user experience platform, the Thermage treatment received a mere 46% rating (as of date of this writing) https://www.realself.com/Thermage/reviews , with many bad reviews about even the latest Thermage CPT.
The risks of Thermage are due to the use of heat from the exterior to tighten skin. The thin skin of the exterior is subject to the most heat and makes it very vulnerable to skin burns and discomfort. In fact, most of the unsatisfied patients on Realself describe it as a painful experience, with burn marks left on the skin afterward, and still minimal results.
Updated (Sept 2019): The science: the effects of radiofrequency (otherwise known as RF) depends on the electrical conductivity of the tissue. Skin has up to 10x the conductivity compared to the conductivity of the layers beneath.
Therefore, when you’re using an RF device for face-tightening:
- Results will vary depending on your skin’s individual electrical conductivity
- You’re possibly going to end up with uncontrolled skin ablation (AKA burns) before you achieve the lifting of the underlying tissues!
Here’s a link to a clinical paper (2) that details the burn damage from Thermage CPT. Thermage can deliver good results but there are certain risks that one should be aware of.
Updated (Sept 2019): Another high profile case of multiple burns caused by Thermage that happened in 2019 can be seen here:
Thermage can deliver good results but there are certain risks that one should be aware of.
Thermage Facelift Alternative
Personally, I’m not a big fan of using radiofrequency heat on the delicate exterior layer of skin.
If you’re considering a non-surgical facelift, I strongly recommend treatments that use Long-Pulse or Ultra-Long-Pulsed Nd-Yag laser energy to heat deep tissues instead. This spares the skin surface and is also more affordable and comfortable (proven by clinical study 1 at end of this document)
While both use heat to stimulate collagen growth in the deeper skin layers, Thermage uses radiofrequency to heat tissues from the outside, whereas the treatments like the Fotona Starwalker VERSA3 and Dynamis PIANO heats deep tissues, sparing the skin surface.
Thermage heats the top layer of skin (top) while Long-Pulse Nd-Yag laser leaves top layer untouched (bottom)
As you can see from the diagrams, with radiofrequency devices like Thermage CPT and Exilis, radiofrequency works by heating the surface layers more so than the deep layers. There is no way to deliver heat from the inside with a non-invasive radiofrequency device. Some RF devices try to cool the surface to make it more comfortable, but this also reduces effectiveness.
With the Starwalker VERSA3 and the Dynamis PIANO, however, long to ultra-long pulse laser beams selectively target deep skin layers to tighten fat and ligaments, whilst bypassing the surface skin layer (3). The result is much less pain, a much lower risk of burns, as well as more effective heating of the underlying tissues to create results. Results are seen from the very first session – almost immediately.
Furthermore, with radiofrequency (Thermage), there is no way to customize the depth of heating apart from turning up the heat. With laser technology, the depth is customizable by adjusting the pulse-width without changing the power or making it hotter. Used in different pulse durations and individual settings, it can create a range of effects from the tightening of fat sagging to the removal of excessive fat. In fact, the effects of the Ultra-Long-pulse on the SP Dynamis can even reach bone-deep. Depending on individual concern, the treatment can be tuned to create instant face slimming, or simple skin tightening for those without excessive facial fat. This means treatments can be effectively customized for people of all skin types, fair or tan, thin or thick.
Most impressively, a clinical study (1) done recently showed that the VERSA3 long pulse Nd-Yag showed better results when compared to the Thermage in a split-face study. Not just slightly, but more than 150% better on the Laser treated side compared with the Thermage treated side.
Starwalker VERSA3/Dynamis PIANO in comparison with better known facelifting technology:
- Better results
- Safer from burns
- Able to customise depths of treatment for different skin thickness
- More comfortable
- Safe for all skin types
- Less costly (Thermage makes it very expensive for Physicians to use)
How is the treatment process and aftercare like?
The Fotona Starwalker VERSA3 and Dynamis PIANO is a 45 min long session. During the treatment, pulses of deep heating laser will rejuvenate the skin. It is used throughout the whole face, including the fine lines around the eyes and the associated ‘eye bags’. After a single session, the skin will be visibly tightened and may be slightly red for less than an hour. There is virtually no downtime and you can return to any activities immediately after the procedure.
In summary, before considering any form of non-surgical facelifting, it is best to read up on the technology behind it. Heat as a form of collagen stimulation is fine, but from my medical point of view, applying heat directly to the top layer of the skin using radio-frequency technology can be a very risky process.
If you’re still interested in non-surgical facelifts, ask your physician for Long/Ultra-Long-Pulse Nd-Yag laser energy treatments. It is a much safer, more effective and less costly alternative. You’d thank me later.
- Key DY et al. Single-Treatment Skin Tightening By Radiofrequency and Long-Pulsed, 1064-nm Nd: YAG Laser Compared. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 39:169–175 (2007)
- Flor A. Mayoral MD et al. Multiple Facial Burns With the New Thermage CPT System; J Drugs Dermatol. 2011;10(11):1320-1321.
- Updated Sept 2019: (3) Matjaz Lukac, Zdenko Vizintin, Samo Pirnat, Karolj Nemes; New Skin Treatment Possibilities with PIANO Mode on an Nd:YAG Laser; Journal of the Laser and Health Academy Vol. 2011, No.1
This article was last updated on 29.10.2019