Firming and Lifting

Sydney cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson explains Thermage for nonsurgical face ‘lifting’. Christine Doggett reports.

Sydney cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson has been using Thermage in the US for three years, and is delighted that this new technology, which tightens existing collagen and stimulates new collagen growth, has finally been approved for Australians.

Dr Hodgkinson explains, ‘Put simply, the Thermage treatment uses radiofrequency to uniformly heat a large volume of collagen in the deep layers of the skin while simultaneously cooling and protecting the outer layer of the skin. The radiofrequency is delivered through a head on the device into the tissues to firm them. This heating action in the skin causes the deeper structures to immediately tighten. Over time, new and remodelled collagen is produced, resulting in firmer, smoother skin and a more youthful appearance.’

“An effective nonsurgical treatment to lift and tighten sagging skin”.

This technology, also known as the Thermacool Nonsurgical Facelift, is new to Australia and offers an effective nonsurgical treatment to lift and tighten sagging skin. It is not a substitute for a traditional surgical facelift, but will appeal to both men and women in the 35 to 50 year age group, whose skin is showing moderate signs of laxity, but who are not willing or ready for surgery. Thermage is also an effective treatment for those patients who have already had a facelift, but after five or six years are starting to see some loosening with a little jowling, or droop in the mid-face or dropping of the brow.

Thermage does not resurface the skin, as some peels and dermabrasion do, so patients with extremely sundamaged skin will not be good candidates for this rejuvenating and firming treatment. The whole face can be treated by Thermage or it can be focused on the forehead or cheek or neck area to rejuvenate sagging skin and diminish fine wrinkles.

Thermage can deliver a tightening and lifting along the brow-line; a softening of the nasolabial folds and a contouring of the jawline and neck; a reduction of jowl fullness; and a reduction in the laxity and fullness on the neck under the chin.

‘Thermage offers many exciting advantages to the appropriate patient who is considering a facelifting procedure and has reasonable expectations for improvement,’ Dr Hodgkinson says. ‘The treatment is nonsurgical and non-invasive. There is very little downtime, if any, and no bruising, no swelling, and no scarring.

Even after only one treatment there is a visible result within a few days, which improves further over time. Furthermore, Thermage is suitable for any and all skin types and colours, including Asian and Negroid.’

Although the patient may request a mild sedative, no anaesthetic is necessary during Thermage treatment. In fact, the patient who is awake is able to indicate to the surgeon any degree of discomfort felt, so that the energy applied can be cut back and the level of heat adjusted for the individual. Heating causes the collagen fibrils to contract and thicken. The thermal injury and wound healing response deep in the tissues produces additional skin tightening over time. It is this biological reaction to heat that tightens tissue and produces the result of tightened skin and renewed facial contours.

‘There is no preparation required other than a very thin layer of gel applied to the skin to allow the head of the device to glide over the surface of the skin,’ Dr Hodgkinson explains. ‘The whole treatment takes between one hour and an hour and a half, with the machine automatically cooling the skin throughout the whole procedure. The skin may appear a little flushed and pink, and feel warm immediately after treatment, but this will not last long.

‘Post-Thermage photos show an instant result,’ Dr Hodgkinson continues. ‘The skin appears firmer, tightened and more youthful. But the final and full result appears in around six months, as the collagen tightens further in the underlying, deeper tissues.’ Thermage looks set to excite the cosmetic surgery industry with a new era of nonsurgical facelifting procedures – a single Thermage treatment produces tighter, smoother looking skin for up to four years. acsm