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The Real Deal With Nonsurgical Skin Tightening

Jan 18, 2018

It’s reasonable to say that nonsurgical and minimally invasive options tighten facial and other skin to a degree, but to suggest an outcome that rivals a facelift? That may be a stretch.

Dr. RossUltrasound, radiofrequency and microneedling skin tightening devices work, according to dermatologist E. Victor Ross, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley, San Diego, Calif. So do minimally invasive procedures, such as ThermiTight (Thermi), which involves inserting a cannula to heat subcutaneous tissue. And, better yet, are the skin-tightening effects of CO2 laser resurfacing, according to Dr. Ross, who presented on the topic of skin tightening in August 2017 at the Masters of Aesthetics symposium in San Diego.

“The problem is, they’re nowhere near a surgical facelift,” Dr. Ross says. “If you look at [noninvasive] lifting procedures, they may accomplish (and there’s data to support this) 15 to 30% of what a facelift does.”

Skin tightening, according to Dr. Ross, refers to visible changes in the silhouette of the face, or a dimensional change.

Among the popular options for noninvasive skin tightening are Ultherapy (Ulthera, Merz), an ultrasound technology; the radiofrequency monopolar device Thermage (Valeant Pharmaceuticals); and radiofrequency needles of different configurations, including Infini (Lutronic), Profound (Syneron- Candela), Intensif (Vivace) and Intracell (Jacis).

“These devices heat relatively deeply and noninvasively — meaning that there’s no need for incisions and there is no downtime, in the sense of open wounds or incisions,” Dr. Ross says.

These aren’t likely to be facelift or neck lift alternatives, but rather options for patients who don’t want surgical facelifts or neck lifts, or the downtime associated with surgery, Dr. Ross says.