How Does Thermage Work?

We all age. There’s no escape from that. Personal habits, environmental factors, gravity, simple facial movements, sun exposure and heredity dictate how fast we get skin aging. It’s not possible to stop or truly reverse the combined effects of these strong factors but it is possible to reduce them and improve skin appearance.

Thermage – also known as ThermaLift, ThermaCool and Radiothermoplasty – is a non-invasive anti-aging skin care treatment to help smoothen and tighten the skin for a refreshed look, without resorting to needles and without any downtime.

Your Skin

Our skin is composed of three layers – the epidermis (surface), the dermis (collagen layer just below the surface) and subcutaneous tissue (fat layer with collagen below the dermis). Collagen is the protein that keeps the youth of our skin. Over the years, collagen breaks down faster than the body can produce it. So dryness, uneven texture, wrinkles due to lack of elasticity, and transparency due to the thinning of the epidermis – all these set in and become visible around the ages of 30 and 40, then accentuating along the 50’s and 60’s, when age spots also start to show.

How Thermage Can Help

Laser treatments and similar technologies use heat on superficial layers of the skin to produce results. But Thermage stimulates collagen’s renewal using a radiofrequency technology (RF) that reaches the deeper layers of the skin to tighten the existing collagen and stimulate the formation of new collagen. During each RF pulse (2 to 7 seconds), those deep layers are heated to stimulate collagen production, while at the same time the surface of the skin is cooled to keep it intact throughout the treatment (deep heating + integrated cooling).

As a result, the epidermis doesn’t suffer and you don’t need recovery period. Thermage makers even say that “you can get the procedure on your lunch hour and quickly return to work, family or other activities – looking and feeling great.” However, after the procedure, some patients experience some redness and minor swelling, peeling, blisters, bumps or dimpling, which tend to disappear within 24 hours. Even though you don’t need any special preparation for Thermage (fasting or blood work), you do need some skin TLC afterwards, particularly good skin maintenance and the use of SPF lotions.

Thermage Before And After Pictures

Thermage Sensations and Results

The Thermage treatment is done at the doctor’s office with the patient under local anesthesia but even before, you’ll be administered oral pain medication to reduce pain and possible discomfort. The facial procedure takes about 45 minutes; on the rest of the body it can take up to one hour and a half, depending on the damage, location and size of the area to be treated. During the treatment you’ll feel alternated cooling and heating sensations as the Thermage device touches the skin. Since the heat applied on the deeper layers is what makes the treatment so effective, your doctor will keep asking you about the intensity of the heat sensation, in order to balance your comfort with optimized results.

You can see immediate results after one single treatment but they will continue to improve over time (two to six months) as your body naturally rebuilds a collagen web. The results of one single treatment can last for years, depending on your age and your skin’s condition. However, some individuals don’t experience any improvements at all, because people are different. Dramatic results are expected from surgical procedures like facelifts, which is not the case of Thermage. Your doctor will be able to inform you about your expectations versus true possible results.

Who Can Have Thermage Treatment?

Thermage has only been FDA approved to treat wrinkles, eyelids and temporarily improve cellulite. It can be performed on all skin colors and on several parts of the body. It acts to tighten the skin, lift the eyebrows, tighten loose skin around the neck, jaw and chin, and soften acne scars as well as forehead creases and laugh lines. It has also been proven to be effective on the temporary reduction of cellulite.

The best candidates to undergo Thermage are people with mild skin sagginess, early aging signs and mild acne scarring (or active acne). Individuals displaying accentuated signs of aging should be aware that Thermage may not be the best option. To enhance the treatment’s results, your doctor may advise you to combine other cosmetic procedures such as eye lift, chin augmentation and laser resurfacing.

How Much Does Thermage Cost?

Thermage is not a cheap option and prices vary from $ 1000 to $ 5000, depending on the size and location of the areas you want to treat.

Alternatives To Thermage

Thermage is only one of non-invasive cosmetic procedures that are coming into the market. Other alternatives include:

VelaShape – also uses RF and light energy to reduce fat cells;
Zerona – is a slimming laser therapy to break down fat cells;
CoolSculpting by Zeltiq – selectively targets fat cells to freeze and kill, so that they can be eliminated by our metabolic system.

All of the above treatments provide patients the freedom to choose between having surgical procedures with dramatic results but needing downtime or non-invasive treatments with little or no downtime, even if with more subtle and late-blooming results. More advanced skin conditions may be advised surgery, but people only needing slight modifications can be spared to go “under the knife” and choose any of the above treatments.

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About Victoria Strander

Writes about the latest beauty procedures. Her articles are available for syndication. Use Contact Page for inquiries.


  1. We can offer thermage tips,if you need it,please feel free to contact


  1. […] How Does Thermage Work? says: May 2, 2011 at 8:11 am […]

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