Thermage Vs 3 Non-Invasive Skin Tightening Contenders

by | Apr 24, 2020 | Thermage

Skincare has always been a hit or miss. Unless you seek customised, professional care, everything you do is on a trial basis to see which works. But, if you want to step up your beauty routine by adding aesthetic treatments into the mix, it’s wise to weigh your options first. So, in this blog, we want to focus on Thermage and how it fairs in comparison to other similar treatments.



Thermage Machine


As we all know, Thermage is a non-invasive treatment that tightens and lifts the skin by stimulating collagen formation using Radiofrequency (RF) energy. This device has the capacity to penetrate all skin layers which makes it effective for different areas other than the face (e.g. face, eyelids, neck, hands, etc.).

Stencil marks that form a grid into the area of treatment will serve as a guide where the Thermage wand will be directed. This grid will help the applicator deliver treatments precisely and uniformly. The circles and squares direct the doctor so that pulses don’t overlap.

Stencils Marks from Thermage

There is a predetermined number of pulses depending on the tip used. The doctor works to distribute the pulses evenly throughout the treatment areas using different techniques. Based on sound judgement, the doctor concentrates on areas that require more attention. 

During the treatment, the RF waves heat the inner tissue layers without damaging the skin’s surface. This process heats up the collagen causing them to contract and thicken. Consequently, this tightens the skin layer below the surface which helps reverse the physical effects of ageing, sun exposure, and poor skincare habits. 

After each session, there is visible tightening, some degree of swelling, and temporary redness. Most patients have one treatment and notice some degree of tightening after their session. Since it takes time for the body to make collagen, you’ll see peak results in about 6 months. In some cases, more than one treatment may be needed depending on the quality of your skin.

 Benefits of Thermage Infographic

The Thermage Care

Thermage may have been effective, but some are hesitant to try because its reputation as a painful treatment precedes it. That was true for previous versions of the device which caused the dermis to be as hot as possible, requiring just a single pass on the intended areas. However, redesigned treatment tips now provide uniformed volumetric bulk heating for each target area. It also comes with a vibrating handpiece interspersed with a cooling sensation for comfortable sessions – hence the Comfort Pulse Technology (CPT).

While you mostly feel a drilling sensation, this will generally be tolerable as it is accompanied by a cooling sensation. The doctor will also do a test pulse to see if the heat is acceptable (mild discomfort) before proceeding. There will be no anaesthetic involved because the doctor would also want constant feedback from you on the heat level delivered. This is still part of the process of maintaining patient comfort as the doctor works on the entire predetermined areas. 

Thermage is the right option for people who are not yet ready for surgery. The current version of this device provides great efficacy, but the same safety profile. However, results may also vary for each individual. With only one session needed and results that can last for up to a year and a half to two years, you have ample time to enjoy results while controlling the progression of skin ageing.  

So, how does this treatment fare in comparison to other devices? Let’s read more on it below to weigh your options. 

Thermage CPT vs. Titan 

 Titan Device

The idea behind these two treatments is similar in that they aim to heat the deeper layer of the skin to trigger a restorative response. Both encourage collagen production and remodelling through a controlled wound healing response. This action gives the skin an uplifted appearance not only on the face but also on other parts of the body. 

What sets these two skin tightening treatments apart is the mechanism by which the dermis is heated. If Thermage does the job using RF, Titan employs infrared. It safely heats the inner layers while the surface layer is kept cool and protected.

Titan is usually requested for areas below the jaw and around the chin area to address facial laxity. However, it can also safely target the neck, chest, abdomen, arms, and thighs. This treatment focuses more on the lower half of the face, while Thermage has the capacity to address the sensitive eye area.

It’s also common for patients who chose Titan to have two to three treatments spaced four weeks apart. Meanwhile, Thermage usually requires just one session to trigger a rejuvenating action. Generally, Titan is offered for mild to moderate skin laxity, while Thermage can be the next option if skin laxity is a step above.

Related Article:  CoolSculpting and Thermage CPT: Cost and Considerations

Thermage CPT vs. ReFirme

 Refirme Device

ReFirme uses the FDA-approved elosTM technology which is a combination of bipolar radiofrequency and infrared for deep thermal heating. While doing so, it also spares the surface layer of the skin from damage. As you might have observed, comfort is indeed one of the primary features in aesthetic devices today. 

This device corrects skin laxity, sagginess, loss of elasticity, and textural irregularities in areas such as the:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Upper arms
  • Abdomen 
  • Knees

ReFirme’s proprietary ST applicator is known to safely and painlessly tighten the skin. Besides the usual problems spots, it can also target delicate areas such as the under the eye. However, when it comes to treating the area around the orbital rim to address cases like mild to moderate upper eyelid hooding, Thermage CPT is the device solely approved to do the job thanks to its different treatment tips.

In terms of the frequency of treatments, ReFirme normally requires three to five sessions scheduled three to four weeks apart. More treatments are needed to achieve equal tightening with ReFirme. However, the cost of an entire course of ReFirme amounts to one session of Thermage – which will be enough in some patients.

ReFirme also delivers painless treatments. The results of which are also progressive, similar to Thermage. You will observe measurable improvements for up to 6 months after your sessions, and you can get annual touch-ups if you wish to stave off surgery.

Thermage CPT vs. Ulthera

 Ulthera Device

Like any of the devices we tackled above, Ulthera is also designed to generate collagen regeneration. Just like Thermage, its skin tightening action is hinged on the heat delivered by their respective energy sources. 

However, these two treatments vary in terms of the goal of treatment. Ultherapy specifically works on tightening the skin on three major areas: the brow, chin and neck, and your chest (decolletage). Meanwhile, Thermage focuses on treating the wrinkles on the face and eye area making it suitable for those who wish to reduce droopiness in the eyelids, minimise bags, and dark circles under the eyes. Beyond the face, Thermage can also act on unflattering bulges on the body.

Ultrasound energy is known to reach deeper into the skin layers compared to RF. But in terms of results, you won’t likely see any improvements at first with Ultherapy. Over time, you will start to see your skin laxity improve. In Thermage, you might experience some tightening after a session and then gradual improvement. Both treatments will give noticeable change within six months as collagen takes time to regenerate. 

To maintain results, you can get a touch-up Ultherapy session annually, while you can wait as long as two years for your next Thermage visit.


Related Article: Thermage vs Ulthera

Good Candidate for Non-Surgical Skin Tightening Infographic

The Truth of the Matter

Each of our beauty goals will define the measures we take in getting there. Thermage and these other skin tightening treatments all have their own strengths. You just need to think about what really is your main areas of concern, and which among these are specialised to address that need.

Operator technique is also a critical aspect in obtaining good result regardless of what treatment you wish to invest in. These devices are not foolproof, and they still require the skills and clinical eye to ensure that you obtain a good result. Therefore, make sure that you do your homework when choosing your doctor or clinic. 

Seek the Right Help

Never compromise your skin by entrusting it to anyone with credentials that are anything less. With so many services and treatments claiming to tighten skin, make sure that you see a professional who has the training and experience to determine the right options for your concerns. In Singapore, practitioners are required to have a certification for them to even use aesthetic devices.

Remember that as much as these devices have been lauded by patients and proponents for their effectiveness, they are not immune to poor results. Therefore, a safe and successful outcome relies on the practitioner handling it.

So, weigh your skin tightening options well and trust a professional who can deliver the quality of work you deserve. 

If you wish to address skin sagging non-surgically, come in for a consultation with Dr Tyng Tan, and let’s work towards a safe and suitable solution. 

About Dr Tyng Tan

Dr. Tan Tyng Yuan, MBBS completed her graduate and medical education in the United Kingdom over a span of 10 years.

She is also certified by the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee (APOC) to operate various laser devices for skin conditions, administer dermal fillers, Botox and chemical peel.