I have been excited by the possibilities of radiofrequency energy and its ability to produce changes in fat and skin tightening for several years. The technology has been around for a while and we’ve had a radiofrequency unit since 1996. But the science and technology of radiofrequency surgery has evolved in the past 18 years through several iterations and it is now used in many forms for many types of surgery. Radio frequency energy is used in neurology, anesthesia, urology, and in most types of surgery. It can be used to seal blood vessels, treat varicose veins, numb nerves that cause pain, destroy cancer cells, and even control aberrant heart rhythms. But it was used first as a means of performing surgery.
Radiofrequency devices that have been used ON the surface of the skin have also been around for a while and have been touted as effective for skin tightening. Most of the external devices that were applied to the surface of the skin were painful and produced minimal results.
The devices that were most interesting to me were the ones that got inserted under the surface of the skin, where the action is (the fat is there, and that’s the location where you can tighten the dermis, the back surface of the skin). Unfortunately, the FDA blocked the approval of the deep devices until, most recently, as of December 2013, it approved ThermiRF® for skin tightening.
Called ThermiTight™, the procedure is performed with a small probe, the size of a small needle. It is inserted under the surface of the skin, after numbing it with a local anesthetic. The temperature at the tip of the probe is monitored, and its small size allows precise placement in the tissue and in the area one wishes to tighten. The temperature at the surface of the skin is monitored using an infrared camera, preventing injury to the skin surface.
In its facial plastic surgery application, we use it to perform a lift of the neck and face, improving the jaw line. The procedure is performed in the office with or without sedation, and involves no sutures and is painless with post procedural pain also minimal. Downtime is typically three days and results are seen immediately, though improvement occurs for up to six months. The results I’ve had so far are, in my view, spectacular! My colleagues have also seen the same.
At W Cosmetic Surgery, we believe ThermiRF® is a great in-between procedure that is perfect for the patient that wants improvement in the face and neck area but is unwilling to undergo a facelift, whether it is because of cost, downtime, the incisions, or the fear of looking pulled. It may soon become the perfect “bridge” to surgery that will buy you a little more time before a full surgical facelift.