Before You Go
Questions to ask your doctor:
- Can Thermage be combined with other cosmetic treatments to improve skin quality?
- How often do I need to make Thermage appointments in order to reduce cellulite over a long period of time?
- If I stop Thermage treatments, how long will it take for my wrinkles to reappear?
- What if I do not see any results?
Pre-procedure prep for Thermage: Thermage is a no-prep procedure. You won't need to make any lifestyle changes before your Thermage.
On the day of treatment: No prep is needed for Thermage.
What To Expect
Thermage requires the use of a hand piece, which most closely resembles an oversized glue gun crossed with an electric toothbrush. The device delivers radiofrequency energy deep into the tissues of the skin where the collagen resides.
A tattoo-like grid is drawn directly onto the skin, which serves as a guide throughout the treatment and allows the physician to follow the pattern with the heated tip like a map. This grid is washed off after the procedure is over. Your skin may be slightly red after treatment.
In 2009 a new size of Thermage "body tip" was introduced, cutting the time of Thermage treatments in half and increasing comfort levels. Make sure your doctor is using the latest tip size (it's called the 16 tip).
The new Thermage available in the US is called CPT, for comfort pulse technology (a similar technology used with Tickle Lipo). The vibration motion of the handpiece tricks the nerves, making the procedure less uncomfortable. CPT also offers more uniform and thorough heating of skin tissue.
The new Thermage technique, which maximizes the effects while minimizing pain, involves more passes with the device at a lower strength. Be wary if the doctor uses too much topical anesthesia. The outmoded method of Thermage uses very strong, short pulses, along with anesthesia to numb the patient.
Who should do it: Treatment is provided by dermatologists and plastic surgeons in medical offices. Your provider should specialize in cosmetic procedures and must be trained to operate the medical devices associated with Thermage. Find a board certified physician who offers Thermage as part of their practice.
Duration: The procedure can take from as little as five minutes to as long as two hours depending on the size of the area you chose to treat. Your face may take 45 minutes, while larger parts of the body may take an hour or more.
How Painful Is It?
Thermage treatments can feel hot as the device glides over the skin. The level of pain varies according to an individual's threshold and the sensitivity of the area being treated. Areas with thinner skin, like the face and hands, experience more discomfort than the stomach, for example.
To soothe the skin, a cooling spray is applied throughout the procedure. Thermage released an improved device in 2009 intended to make the procedure more tolerable, if not exactly enjoyable. The new hand piece is four times the size of the original device and cuts down on the time needed for treatment, thus lessening discomfort.
Pain level is a 5 out of 10 if topical anesthesia is not used.
Thermage is said to be more painful than the other major radiofrequency skin tightening treatment, Pelleve because the level of heat delivered during Pelleve treatment can be adjusted during treatment; with Thermage, once the device is programmed, the treatment is set.
However, Thermage requires fewer treatments to take effect than Pelleve.
Options for anesthesia: Local anesthetic can be applied prior to treatment to numb the immediate area and help minimize discomfort.