Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered just where the last ten years have gone? When fine lines and wrinkles appear on your face or when you’re left with stretch marks galore after your last baby, it can be easy to wonder if this is the way you’ll look and feel forever? Will it only go downhill from here? Is it time for a facelift? But you wouldn’t dare go under the knife! What should you do? Could it be possible to diminish fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks and the like without any downtime post-treatment? Could it really be that easy? The process of radio frequency treatments may sound out of this world but it is one of the most innovative ways to tighten the skin without harming the skin or leading to a lengthy downtime away from family or work. Let’s examine how the process of skin tightening works. Then, we will discuss the best equipment available to achieve the right skin tightening effect for your specific skin needs.


Skin tissue tightening is also known as non-invasive skin tightening. It works through the process of dermal heating which effects the collagen structure in the skin by stimulating the dermal fibroblasts and synthesizing new collagen fibers. Essentially, when heat is applied to the skin, you get an immediate tightening of the collagen. The use of radio frequency dates back to the early 2000s but new machines are continually being developed to keep up with the new heightened demand. In the office, a gel is applied and then, radio frequency is used to heat the skin (which has been described as the feeling of a hot stone massage—noticeable but not painful) and then the collagen is tightened as a result. The best part? You can see an immediate difference with the reduction of soft lines but by stimulating the production of the collagen, you will actually see results for up to six weeks with some procedures affecting collagen for up to two years. The whole process takes about 30 minutes (depending on the procedure) and the entire process is non-invasive, meaning the skin is still intact after the procedure is complete. The only catch? You definitely want to make sure you have a trained doctor perform the procedure because they know to look out for scars or other problem areas, as well as, the proper frequency (temperature) needed to get the best outcome.

Now that you’ve got the gist of how the procedure works, let’s take a closer look at three of the most popular treatments to really understand how the procedure works and the right fit for you.


Thermage Radio Frequency by Solta Medical is a non-invasive procedure used to treat wrinkles without damaging the skin. The technology helps boost new collagen production resulting in a smoother look and feel of the skin after treatment. The procedure works using Thermage RF which sends radio frequency energy through the skin in a direct motion that goes below the skin’s surface. The skin is heated deep into the dermis which helps boost collagen and improve the appearance of the surface skin. Working from within instead of from the outside of the skin. Adult patients are treated on the eyes to smooth fine lines and wrinkles on the upper and lower eyelids, on the face to smooth and improve the appearance of wrinkled skin and on the body to smooth uneven, dimpled skin. The best part? It usually takes only one treatment to work and that treatment happens with virtually little to no downtime. Solta Medical is always trying to look for the newest innovative treatment technology and their most recent development is the Thermage CPT (Comfort Pulse Technology) which uses radiofrequency energy and was developed with the patient in mind to help ease any uncomfortable sensations during the treatment. The procedure is flexible and can work on a wide variety of patients as long as they are in the adult age range. Results look natural and never overdone. When it comes to skin tightening, Solta Medical has come a long way with their treatment in recent years and the new procedures are an exciting step.


The Fractora Forma style of skin tightening offers skin rejuvenation using a thermal treatment and is a semi-abrasive procedure that uses tiny pins to open the skin and promote skin healing. It’s an exciting innovation in skin tightening because it can allow the doctor to program the optimal temperature and control that temperature throughout the procedure virtually eliminating the possibility of over-heating. It has a built-in sensor that ensures no overheating. It also allows the doctor to be able to treat tough spots by being able to stay on the area longer without the risk of burning thanks to the built-in sensor. It can work on all facial regions and all over the body. As of now, Fractora treatments can reach around 4 mm in depth of the skin without harming the outside of the skin. The treatment works by reworking the collagen and improving the look of the skin on the outside. The treatment can improve everything from acne scarring to dull skin tone and usually works in just one treatment. The Fractora Forma laser sends out radio frequency energy at about one million pulses per second and uses a special ACE technology. ACE stands for Acquire, Control and Extend. Acquiring means the forma has multiple sensors that allow the doctor to monitor the temperature and Control, which lets the doctor pre-program the course of treatment and adjust accordingly. Finally, Extend allows the heat to stay within the specific guidelines for providing the best aesthetic outcome possible.


Though not a radio frequency treatment, Ultherapy does promote skin tightening and is thus important to mention during this discussion. Ultherapy is a non-invasive skin tightening technique that is cleared by the FDA. It uses time-tested ultrasound energy versus radio frequency energy to provide what’s called a non-invasive lift. The energy actually lifts and tightens the skin without harming or breaking the skin. The procedure has been FDA-cleared to lift skin under the chin, on the neck and on the eyebrow. Recently the FDA also cleared the use of the ultrasound therapy to improve fine lines and wrinkles on the décolletage. So how does it work? We’re all familiar with the use of ultrasound to catch a glimpse of a blessed babe or to find out what’s going on within our bodies. This treatment uses that same technique to help doctors see where the treatment energy needs to be focused. Your doctor will place the ultrasound gel on your face and then the screen will show areas of the face where collagen needs to be stimulated. Then, the energy will be directed to the area and stimulate the collagen production down in the skin. Your skin will respond by starting a rejuvenation process that will create new collagen, thus providing a smoother all-over look. It’s different than radio frequency because it goes beneath the skin leaving the outer level of the skin virtually untouched. Though you may see some results right away, you’ll see peak results in about 2 to 3 months when the new collagen begins to do its job. It’s a definite option for those who don’t want surgery or anything done to the outside of the skin.

Skin tightening is a great option for those that don’t want to go under the knife and for those that don’t want anyone to know they’ve undergone a procedure. The treatment usually only takes one visit and results can last for up to a couple months. The future has truly arrived and the option to get the results of a facelift without having an actual facelift are quite tangible in today’s society and may just be exactly what you’re looking for.

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Derm Young