Aging is a fact of life and technology is being employed constantly to fight it in an innovative & inerrant fashion. There is new crop of skin tightening procedures sprouting every season, with endless media campaigns and hypes it is difficult to decide what is effective and what is a mere hoax. Two widgets that are best known and have stood the test of time are: Thermage & Accent XL. While these two treatments utilize different proprietary technologies, the idea is essentially the same; they both aim to heat the deeper layer of the skin (the dermis) in order to generate a “healing response”. This healing response encourages increased collagen production and remodeling of existing collagen. Supportive underlying tissues of the skin contract, resulting in a tighter, more uplifted appearance to the skin.
Both treatments have been used with success on the face and areas of the body. Some of the most dramatic results have been seen in the area of the neck and jaw line. However, these treatments are also showing some promising results on sagging skin on the abdomen, upper arms, butt, and thighs, and seem to offer some help with diminishing the appearance of cellulite as well.
- Unlike with ablative lasers or chemical peels, there is no peeling of the top layer of skin, and therefore the procedures are more suitable for patients with darker skin tones, because of the significantly lowered risk of pigmentation changes.
- The cost is also considerably less than surgical face lift, and because the procedure is non-invasive (no cutting) there is usually no need to take time off from work.
- Pain management is hardly an issue, as these procedures require the use of local anesthetic and/or over-the-counter pain-killers, Accent XL requires no anesthesia at all.
For most patients, there is no downtime following a treatment.
Non Invasive Realistic Expectations:
Keep in mind that these procedures are not meant to deliver the same results as a surgical face lift. You cannot expect to erase 15-20 years with non-invasive tissue tightening. Also important to remember is that results vary from patient to patient due to differences in skin thickness and texture, healing response, and lifestyle variables. These procedures are probably best looked at as a way for younger patients to stave off more invasive procedures, or for those patients for whom surgery is not an option.
Skin-tightening procedures seem to work best in patients who have thin faces who don’t quite yet need a facelift and want to put it off for a few years. In some cases, these procedures may have little or no discernible effect on those who are really ready for a facelift due to having very loose skin and, or those with a lot of excess facial fat. Although many patients do experience dramatic differences, there is no guarantee of a noticeable improvement.
Operator technique is of paramount importance to obtaining a good result with these procedures, so make sure to do your research regarding the experience and training of the person who will be performing your procedure. And don’t forget to get and check references!