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Lifting and Tightening

Francis Herron spoke to Sydney cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson about Thermage treatment for lifting and tightening sagging skin.

Thermage is a noninvasive, no-downtime treatment that tightens ageing skin and rejuvenates the face. Approved by the FDA in late 2001, it has grown in popularity in the last few years, with over 70,000 patient treatments worldwide, and has now been approved for use in Australia. The Thermage process (also known as the Thermacool Nonsurgical Facelift) uses radiofrequency technology to enhance the appearance of facial skin around the eyes and forehead, producing desirable results with no incisions and virtually no recovery time.

Sydney cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson explains how it works: ‘The Thermage treatment uses patented radiofrequency (RF) technology 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.

Over time, new and remodelled collagen is produced, resulting in firmer, smoother skin and a more youthful appearance.’

‘The radiofrequency is delivered through a head of the machine into the tissues to firm them. This action in the skin causes the deeper structures to immediately tighten as heating causes the collagen fibrils to contract and thicken. The natural thermal injury and wound healing response deep in the tissues produces the result of tightened skin and renewed facial contours. Over time, new and remodelled collagen is produced, resulting in firmer, smoother skin and a more youthful appearance.’

Dr Hodgkinson says it offers an effective treatment to lift and tighten sagging skin. It is not a substitute for a traditional surgical facelift but it 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.

The whole face can be treated, or the Thermage treatment can be focused on the forehead or cheek or neck area to rejuvenate sagging skin and diminish fine wrinkles. Thermage can also provide 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.

There is very little downtime and the procedure has an excellent safety record, with reported incidence of any side effects less than one per cent, usually limited to localised minor swelling. Unlike many laser procedures, only one treatment is typically required and facial appearance continues to improve further over time.

‘Post-Thermage photos show an instant result,’ says Dr Hodgkinson. ‘The skin appears firmer, tightened and more youthful. But the full and final result appears in around six months, as the collagen tightens further in the underlying, deeper tissues.’

Dr Hodgkinson explains that the procedure can take from a few minutes up to an hour, depending upon the size of the treatment area required. Although patients sometimes request a mild sedative, no anaesthetic is necessary during the treatment and the machine automatically cools the skin throughout the whole procedure. The skin may appear a little flushed and pink, and feel warm immediately after treatment, but this generally does not last long. Most people return to their regular activities immediately following the procedure. acsm

Thermage Thermage skin tightening treatments skin tightening treatments
BEFORE and 2 months AFTER Thermage treatment by Dr Hodgkinson BEFORE and AFTER one Thermage treatment by Dr Hodgkinson