You might remember I went for my first Thermage session about a month ago now, and I promised to give you a run-down of the experience and what results I've seen so far.
My philosophy on anti-aging is simple: Prevention before Cure. So if you start protecting what you have while you're young (healthy lifestyle, sun protection, antioxidants, collagen-boosting products), you can delay and reduce signs of aging significantly.
Eventually though, the collagen and elastin WILL still breakdown. For many of us, it can show up as fine expression lines that don't go away, skin surface that's not as tight and toned, deeper nasolabial lines, and a jaw-line that's no longer defined.
Skincare can work on the surface of the skin and help slow further breakdown but is usually unable to penetrate deep enough to reverse these signs of aging.
That's why many people turn to non-invasive treatments like Thermage CPT, which sends radiofrequency energy deeper into the layers of the skin where the heat stimulates your body's own collagen-production function and gives it a "reboot".
You can obviously see why I'd be interested. Even if I don't see a huge visible change, it would still be worth stimulating my skin and "rewinding the clock" since I can already feel it's not quite as tight and bouncy as it used to be a couple of years ago.
When you work with your face almost daily and take high-res shots up-close, you can't miss all the newer fine lines, open pores, and slackening of face contours, especially around the jaws and under the chin.
(Most of us worry about fine lines and don't notice the developing double chin until it's quite "advanced".)
Thermage is now available in its 3rd generation, so I did ask if the clinic (Aesthetic & Hair Clinic at Ngee Ann City) used Total Tip 3.0.
The latest version is designed to not only be less painful than the previous version but also is more effective at sending radio-frequency energy deeper into the skin's layers.
If you're going to invest, make sure you get the most updated and effective technology!
Just to show you, the old tip is on the right. The newer 3.0 tip is on the left. Each Tip is one-use. It's thrown out after a session - not re-used.
At the clinic, I went through a consultation with Dr Tan, and we talked through some areas of concern (jaw line, expression lines, neck) and decided we would focus more on these areas more. Be sure to talk to your doc about problem areas so they know what your priorities are.
After that, a nurse got me ready for the session.
Warning: some weird photos follow.
After signing the standard patieng consent forms stating I was aware of all the potential side-effects that could occur with Thermage, such as blistering and peeling etc,
My skin would be cleansed and then numbing cream massaged all over the face and neck and left to sit and absorb for a good while.
This process took awhile as it needed to be thorough so I chatted with the nurse and asked her about Thermage patients and what groups of people were going for the procedure.
She said a lot of working women in their 30s onwards go for Thermage treatment. Men tend to start a bit later.
The more interesting thing is that some people are using it on their bellies and the backs of their arms, etc to tighten sagging skin there.
Never knew that!
(As you can tell I don't sit quiet while she's working.)
By the time they showed me the coupling fluid (which ensures the tip covers the skin more evenly and completely during the procedure), my face was really feeling the effects of the numbing cream.
It was tingly - and because I couldn't feel my expressions, it almost felt like my face was frozen and stiff. (It's not.)
The nurse wiped off the numbing cream and then used rubbing alcohol to transfer the ink from the marking sheet to my face.
Dr Tyng Tan came in and explained to me that she would start on a low setting first and dial it up slightly as she made several passes over the skin. I was to let her know if it hurt too much and she would dial it down.
Some patients request for sedation, but most doctors will turn down the request. You need to be able to tell the doctor when the heat gets to be too much for you, as everyone's skin is different and you can blister and burn.
That said, any blistering is usually very mild.
Some things to note:
1. In general a higher level setting (4 and above) tends to give you faster and more visible results, but it can also cause blistering/burning and be too much for those with a low pain threshold.
2. Some doctors prefer using a lower setting (3 and below) and making several passes over the same areas instead, to get a similar effect with less pain.
I'm a wimp and I didn't want to risk burning, so of course I was more than happy to go with option 2.
Total Tip 3.0 also has a vibrating motion to help desensitize the skin to pain, so along with numbing creams, that does help reduce any pain.
Did it hurt?
Yes it did in certain areas where the skin is more sensitive or thin, but mostly only during 2nd and 3rd passes over the same areas. (There is more heat trapped underneath by then.)
For me that was nearer the mouth, and at certain parts of the neck. On my cheeks, around my eyes, and forehead, it didn't hurt.
You feel the tip vibrate, and then at the end, a short concentrated burst of heat deep into the skin. For me it was something like an ant bite. A big ant.
But other people who've gone for the procedure didn't feel any pain at all, even at a higher setting, so it's quite dependent on the individual.
Always tell the doctor if the pain is too much in certain areas, and they will dial it down.
Throughout the session, Dr Tan was chatting and asking about my family, work, life, Thermage and other treatments to put me at ease and take my mind off the procedure.
After the procedure, which took probably 30 mins or so, I had zero redness or blistering.
I chalk it down to the fact we did multiple passes at a lower setting. I could apply my sunblock, a little concealer, and then leave straight away. There is no downtime and you can go about your day.
(That's why so many working people opt for this over other treatments. Perfect if you need to schedule a procedure at lunch time.)
I was provided with soothing Post Treatment gel just in case I experienced any soreness or redness, but honestly, I used it once later that night and that was it. I was told I could apply skincare and makeup as usual, and I wouldn't really need to be extra-careful with sun protection (no more than usual anyway), since Thermage does not damage or thin the surface of the skin.
So now that it's been a month, what do I think?
I'd be lying if I said I expected dramatic results. I didn't have a lot of noticeable sagging or a lot of lines to begin with.
But almost immediately after the procedure, I could feel my skin was a bit "tighter". I assumed that might be due to initial swelling beneath the surface so I waited a bit more. After a few days, the main difference I saw was around the jawline.
It's more defined and there's less of the "excess flesh" under the chin.
My pore size seems a bit more uniform and small all around as well.
My "beginner" nasolabial lines (by the side of the nose) are DEFINITELY fainter but they haven't completely disappeared, though I'm already quite happy.
I've always had one deep line on my neck and Thermage won't get rid of it. That's just the way the collagen is distributed and I've had it since I was a kid. It's the finer newer lines that worried me.
For the first 1-2 weeks I didn't see much of a diff on my neck so I stopped staring at it everyday.
Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of difference after 4-5 weeks. Now aside from the single deeper line which I've had a long time, and a half-line near the left side, the other finer lines are gone.
The thing I learnt about Thermage is - Be Patient.
Your skin does not rebuild itself overnight. The newly stimulated cells start to produce more collagen and elastin slowly.
Improvements typically continue for 3 - 6 months depending on the condition of your skin so if you are getting Thermage before a wedding etc, make sure you plan accordingly.
Also, if you experience a moderate amount of sagging already, the visual difference is bigger of course.
I asked Dr Tan what ages she would consider unsuitable for Thermage. She said:
Early 20s and below - your collagen production is still at its peak so Thermage will not improve it a great deal.
60 and above (situational) - some women maintain themselves extremely well into their 60s. If that is the case Thermage is still for you.
But typically when sagging and wrinkling is advanced, you might need surgical procedures. Thermage might not be enough to make a big difference anymore.
One POSSIBLE side effect I heard about regarding Thermage is fat loss.
A doctor I spoke to said the heat delivered deep under the skin could destroy fat cells which in some cases lead to a more sculpted face.
I can't verify that and say if it's true or if the sculpting comes naturally from the skin being tighter and firmer, so take it with a pinch of salt!
The thing I personally have most happy about is just the general tightness of the jawline. I'm not looking for a drastic change.
Just more bouncy skin, tighter pores, smoother contours and defined facial shape; in general, more good angles to take pictures from.
Prices for Thermage usually range around SGD3000-4000 or so, depending on clinic and whether you are doing more specialized areas like the body or eyes.
The good news is unlike fillers and botox which only give you the appearance of youth without changing your skin, Thermage actually improves your skin from beneath.
Many patients return once a year for maintenance. If your skin is in generally good condition and you're quite young, the results can sometimes last 1-2 years.
I'll do another blog post in Feb after I've gone back for my clinic review and let you know if there are further improvements by then!
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015
Enjoy reading this?
Join our community! Download the app, and get updates from makeupbox. Remove this bar by logging in.