If you’ve noticed skin laxity and wrinkles on your face, surgery is no longer your only option for treatment. These days, a variety of non-invasive, non-surgical treatments are available, including Thermage and Ultherapy. Both promise to help you look more youthful, but what’s the difference between the two and which one is worth choosing?
Read on to learn more about Thermage and Ultherapy and use that information to make an informed decision about your treatment options.
Type of Energy Used
Thermage and Ultherapy both use energy to restore collagen production in the dermal layer of the skin. But the type of energy each treatment uses is different. Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy while Thermage uses radiofrequency energy. Both create heat.
Both forms of energy are able to penetrate the surface of the skin to increase the production of collagen. But ultrasound energy usually can reach deeper into the dermal layer, even down to the fat and SMAS, to provide more dramatic and noticeable skin tightening. The person performing Ultherapy often has more control over the depth of treatment than a person performing Thermage.
Goal of Treatment
A major difference between Thermage and Ultherapy is the goal of the treatment. Thermage focuses on treating wrinkles on the face and in the under eye area and on improving wrinkles and bulges on the body.
Ultherapy is the only non-surgical treatment that’s been approved by the FDA specifically for tightening the skin on the neck and chin and in the brow area. The treatment can also be used to improve the appearance of skin on the chest, or decolletage area.
The specific treatment areas for Thermage and Ultherapy are slightly different. Ultherapy has three major treatment areas:
- The brow
- The chin and neck
- The chest (aka the décolletage)
The treatment is FDA approved for tightening the skin in the chin and neck area and for tightening the skin on the brows. On the décolletage, it is approved for treating lines and wrinkles.
Thermage can also treat several areas of the body. Those areas include:
- The face
- Eye area
- The abdominal area
- Other areas of the body, such as the thighs
When used on the face, Thermage is specifically FDA approved for treating wrinkles. It might provide some skin tightening but, unlike Ultherapy, it doesn’t have FDA approval for skin tightening.
Unlike Ultherapy, Thermage is also approved for use in the area around the eyes. It can help to reduce droopiness in the eyelids and minimize bags and dark circles under the eyes.
Since both Thermage and Ultherapy are non-surgical treatments, neither option requires a lengthy downtime. Depending on your personality and preferences, you might be able to return to work right after your treatment. Since it’s possible to have some swelling in the treated area and a bit of soreness right after treatment, many people decide to wait a day or so before they go back to work.
How long the treatment takes depends on the method you choose and the area you have treated. Thermage treatments can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Ultherapy treatments can be as short as half an hour, for smaller areas. If you’re having a larger area treated, the process can take up to an hour.
When you see results also varies based on whether you have Ultherapy or Thermage. Since both treatments work by having your body rebuild collagen, it can take a few months before you see final results from either. In the case of Thermage, you might see some difference right away, then a gradual improvement.
In the case of Ultherapy, you’re likely not to notice any changes at first. But, as the weeks and months go on, you’ll start to see your skin laxity improve. Results can be long-lasting and you can help maintain your more youthful look by scheduling a touch-up Ultherapy treatment on an annual basis.
One other major difference between Ultherapy and Thermage is the amount of discomfort you might feel during the treatment. Thermage is an older treatment, around since 2002. In the early days, it was fairly uncomfortable, due to the amount of heat involved. Newer developments in the treatment process include cooling the skin at the start of treatment to reduce any pain.
In contrast, Ultherapy is generally not thought of as painful. You might feel a tingling or burning when the energy is delivered. Before treatment, the doctor can give you a local or topical anesthetic to minimize any discomfort.
Candidates for Thermage or Ultherapy
Not everyone is cut out for either Thermage or Ultherapy. For example, if you have a significant amount of skin sagging or laxity on your face, you might be a better candidate for facelift rather than a non-surgical treatment. The same is true if you have a lot of skin laxity on your tummy or in another area of the body — a tummy tuck or other surgical lift might be a better option for you than Thermage.
Along with having just a small amount of skin laxity, it’s important that you be in good overall health before considering Ultherapy or Thermage. You also want to have a clear understanding of what the treatment can and can’t do for you.
Dr. Paul Vitenas offers Ultherapy at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique in Houston, Texas. If you are looking for a non-surgical alternative to a facelift or want to learn more about the difference between Ultherapy and Thermage, call 281-810-9083 to schedule a consultation today.