Minimally Invasive Skin Tightening Procedure
Minimally Invasive, Non-surgical Skin Tightening
Skin tightening without surgery has been asked for and desired for years. Thermitight RF is a nonsurgical skin tightening procedure in our Utah office. With time, skin loses elasticity and support causing excess, loose skin most commonly in the neck, arms, thighs, abdomen, and breasts. Weight loss, sun exposure, smoking, and pregnancy can accelerate these skin changes.
Treatment of loose skin typically involves surgical skin removal and reshaping such as arm lift, tummy tuck, breast lift or neck lift. Although these are amazing procedures with very high satisfaction rates many patients are unwilling to go through surgery to achieve their goals.
Nonsurgical skin tightening is an exciting and rapidly progressing field. The first technology introduced was Thermage which is a radiofrequency device that was FDA approved in 2002. Like Thermage, most current nonsurgical skin tightening device effects result from heat delivered through the skin to the deeper tissues. Many studies have shown that at high temperatures, collagen in the skin contracts and reorients, we see this commonly in the operating room. The temperature required to cause collagen shrinkage is beyond what is safe for the surface skin and many strategies including skin cooling and pulse treatments have been used to limit surface temperature. Most nonsurgical skin tightening options use skin surface radiofrequency (RF) energy, there are well over 10 such devices currently in the industry. The problem with these surface treatments is that the amount of heating is limited and can be unpredictable. This skin thickness and characteristics vary from patient to patient and body area to body area. This has led to inconsistent results and less than stellar patient approval. Some of the more popular and effective surface radiofrequency devices include:
- Thermage – FDA approved in 2002. 46% Realself “worth it” rating
- Exilis – FDA appoved in 2009. 65% Realself worth it rating
- Pelleve – FDA approved in 2010. 78% worth it rating.
- Venus freeze – FDA approved in 2012. 64% worth it rating.eep and skin surface temperature monitoring.
- Ultherapy should be included here as well, it is another surface energy treatment but rather than RF energy uses Ultrasound energy. It was FDA approved 2009 and currently has a 67% worth it rating.
Thermi RF is not a surface treatment but rather an “injectable” RF energy device. Needles deliver the energy beneath the skin. Usually in conjunction with liposution.
How does ThermiTight RF work?
Thermitight delivers heat and energy to where it is most effective, directly beneath the skin. It is not truly “noninvasive” as it does require local anesthesia but it is a “minimally invasive” skin tightening procedure.
The patient can be awake, local anesthesia is injected into the treatment area and a needle that administers RF energy at its tip heats the tissue at the depth of treatment desired, bypassing the skin. The treatment depth and location are controlled by the surgeon and there are temperature safeguards including “real-time” temperature monitoring of the deep and surface tissue.
A skeptic by nature, Dr. Yates has been seeking a nonsurgical skin tightening option that his patients will be thrilled with. We purchased ThermiRF a few years ago but to be honest the results we have seen have been underwhelming compared to what we can achieve with excisional procedures. There is a little more tightening of the skin than liposuction alone but maybe not enough to justify its high price tag to the patient.
Where can ThermiTight RF be used?
Common areas include the neck, arms, thighs, abdomen, breasts, knees and back.
What is the downtime after ThermiTight RF?
There is little downtime after Thermitight RF. The liposuction is typically the same as small volume liposuciton.
Can ThermiTight be used without needles?
Thermismooth, a member of the “Thermi” family is a surface treatment requiring no anesthesia or needles. As it is limited by surface transfer of energy it is not as aggressive as thermitight and requires more than one treatment. This is most commonly performed on the eyelids and face.
Is ThermiTight as effective as surgery?
NO. Thermitight is an alternative to surgery, the major advantages are fewer scars, risks, and downtime. However, the degree of tightening that can be accomplished is limited as the skin is not removed but rather rejuvenated. Thermitight is ideal for patients who will accept minor results to avoid scars and larger procedures. Like surgery, the results of Thermitight RF require only one treatment. Proper patient selection and having realistic expectation of what it can achieve are necessary.
Can ThermiTight be combined with other procedures such as Liposuction or CoolSculpting?
Yes, resulting in better skin tightening than can be accomplished with liposuction or CoolSculpting alone. There is a pretty high cost for the small additional benefit.
LEFT: Liposuction + Thermi RF
RIGHT: Liposuction alone.