The Surgeon Minute

Skin Tightening with the ThermiRF Devices

Skin Tightening with the ThermiRF Devices

Radio frequency is an energy source that has been experimented with and trialed in non-surgical plastic surgery for some time. Surgeons and researchers have attempted to utilize the energy to tighten skin without surgery. The results have been mostly underwhelming until recently.

The ThermiRF product line uses the latest iteration of radio frequency technology to smooth and tighten the skin on both the face and body. So far, the results are not only promising, but real. With three different applications, the Thermi line can treat fine lines and wrinkles on the face, tighten skin in hard to reach areas of the body and rejuvenate the vagina. Dr. Patricia McGuire of St. Louis discusses the many ways in which ThermiSmooth, ThermiTight and ThermiVa can improve a patient’s appearance without incisions, downtime or general anesthesia.

What is Radio Frequency?

Radio frequency (RF) is a specific wavelength of electromagnetic energy that falls within the range of wavelengths that are typically used for radio waves. As an aesthetic technique, it has been found, when administered to the skin and underlying tissues, to cause collagen breakdown and reformation. This in turn causes the skin and tissues in the treatment area to tighten up. The application not only gives a “lift” to skin, but also results in a smoother, younger-looking contour.

Skin tightening with ThermiRF.

ThermiSmooth for the Face

The ThermiRF system has three applications. ThermiSmooth is a non-invasive procedure typically performed on the face and these thin-skinned areas:

  • forehead
  • upper eyelids
  • lower eyelids
  • cheeks
  • mouth
  • neck

The surgeon places a temperature-controlled hand piece on the skin in the treatment area to gently heat the skin’s surface, thus heating the underlying collagen. It’s ideal for treating fine lines and wrinkles, and improving skin tone and texture. It’s a gentle, non-invasive way to rejuvenate the face with no downtime and no anesthesia.

ThermiTight for the Body

ThermiTight is a minimally-invasive procedure performed in the office under local anesthesia. The surgeon places a specially designed probe underneath the skin through two pinprick-sized incisions in the treatment area. This probe then heats to a specific temperature to impart energy to deeper layers of the skin. “The advantage of Thermi is that it measures internal temperature as well as external temperature on the skin,” shares Dr. McGuire. “So it can heat the internal temperature to levels that have been shown to cause the most efficient tightening, but by monitoring the skin temperature, we avoid burning the patient.”

It is also incredibly versatile, able to treat any number of areas on the body such as:

  • jawline
  • neck
  • breasts
  • arms
  • knees
  • abdomen

Rejuvenating Hard to Treat Areas

One of the biggest advantages of ThermiTight is that it gives plastic surgeons a minimally-invasive option for rejuvenating hard to treat areas such as the arms and knees. Before this system, the only real option for improving skin tone on the arms was an arm lift. While extremely effective, an arm lift typically leaves a very long, visible scar from the arm pit to the elbow. This is a huge deterrent for most patients unless they’ve undergone massive weight loss.

The other really hard to treat area where Dr. McGuire has found great success with ThermiTight is on patients with wrinkles above their knees. She has never really had any viable option for treating this condition before Thermi. The procedure can take anywhere from 1-2 hours with very minimal downtime.

The downside of ThermiTight is that it will take awhile to see your results. The collagen has to break down and then reform before you will begin to see the tightening effect. It’s important that anyone who is considering this procedure be patient.

ThermiVa – Non-Invasive Vaginal Rejuvenation

The third ThermiRF option is ThermiVa, an excellent non-surgical procedure for vaginal rejuvenation. Childbirth, age and hormones can all take a toll on the skin and tissues of the vagina. This can result in:

  • painful, itchy dryness
  • stretching of the vagina itself after childbirth
  • stress incontinence
  • reduced sensation resulting in less sexual satisfaction

ThermiVa for the vagina.

ThermiVa is a simple series of treatments that are performed in the office. The hand piece can be used on the tissues both inside and outside the vagina. The procedure is non-invasive, and only takes about 20-30 minutes. Most patients require somewhere around three treatments spaced out over time to see the best results. That said, normal activity can be resumed right after the procedure. You could even have it done during your lunch hour.

“I’ve been looking for [non-surgical] skin tightening for years,” explains Dr. McGuire. Is this the perfect answer? No, but it’s a good answer for patients who are patient and those who don’t want scars, downtime, nor general anesthesia.

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