A revolutionary new technology called Renuvion is creating a buzz for its ability to safely and quickly tighten sagging, aging skin with very little downtime. While there have been other devices and technologies promising skin tightening before now, in the eyes of board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ashley Gordon, they have largely fallen short. Gordon points out that in some cases the results were unreliable and in others the risks of burns to the skin was a risky side effect.
“There really before now hasn’t been a way to adequately heat skin without burning it,” says Gordon, adding that she is interested in effective skin tightening procedures on a personal level as well. “I selfishly have been on the quest for a skin tightening device that actually works for the last several years. As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that even though I work out, and I feel like I’m pretty fit, my skin is just not the same as it was ten or fifteen years ago. It has more laxity and when I hinge at the waist I feel like there’s excess skin.”
Understanding Aging Skin and How to Reverse It
As skin ages, it loses collagen and elastin. These proteins, abundant in youth, are responsible for helping skin feel firm (collagen) and provide skin with the ability to snap back after being stretched (elastin).
One way to stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin within the deeper layers of aging skin is by delivering a controlled heat, also referred to as a controlled thermal injury, through radiofrequency. Renuvion is not the first device to harness this concept, but it is the first to do it with immediate, effective and safe results.
How Renuvion Works
What sets Renuvion apart from other radiofrequency skin tightening devices is its ability to protect the sensitive top layers of the skin from burning while at the same time delivering enough heat to the lower layers to stimulate visible tissue shrinkage and collagen and elastin production.
Through small incisions in the treatment area, Dr. Gordon inserts a rod-like handheld device that delivers radiofrequency energy to heat the targeted tissues and helium gas to cool the surrounding tissues, minimizing the risk of burns.
“It heats and contracts the fibrous tissue that surrounds the fatty tissue and the dermis to get it to tighten,” explains Gordon. “The most exciting thing is, the results are immediate.”
Before treatment, Dr. Gordon has each patients administer a “pinch test” to note just how much laxity is present. When the procedure is completed, her patients repeat the “pinch test.” The results are immediately noticeable. Over the next few months, the skin continues to build new collagen and the results keep improving.
“All of the other tightening devices take months to really see results,” says Gordon. “It’s nice for the patient to feel like they know that it’s really happening.”
One and Done
Another benefit to Renuvion is that most patients who are good candidates only require one treatment to achieve ideal results.
Not all patients, however, are good candidates for Renuvion. “It’s a really great option for patients with mild to moderate skin laxity,” shares Gardon.
When a patient has lost large amounts of weight and skin laxity is excessive, Gordon points out that they would likely be a better candidate for a surgical skin removal procedure such as a tummy tuck or brachioplasty (arm lift).
Combining Renuvion with Liposuction
It’s often the case that areas with crepey skin, such as the lower arms, abdomen, or inner thigh also have some excess fatty tissue. In these patients, Dr. Gordon will de-bulk the area with liposuction first, and follow after with Renuvion to help contract and tighten the skin.
“Skin in the upper inner arm is thinner, so if you do too much liposuction then they can be left with crepey skin,” she explains. “Same thing for the inner thighs. The inner thigh skin is a lot thinner than the outer thigh skin. Renuvion is really great to minimize the need for excisional surgery in these areas.”
Downtime & Recovery
When done as a standalone procedure, the treatment takes place in Restora Austin’s surgical suite under local anesthesia. Afterwards patients may experience mild bruising or swelling. Patients typically take a day or two off from work to recover, but experience very little discomfort.
In cases where Renuvion is combined with liposuction or other procedures, IV sedation or general anesthesia may be used instead. Longer combined procedures typically translate to a longer recovery. Patients wear a compression garment for about six weeks after Renuvion treatment to minimize swelling and encourage skin contraction.