Along with lines and wrinkles, sagging skin is one of the most common age-related cosmetic concerns among both men and women.
There are many reasons that skin ages and sags, but sun exposure contributes the most. Sagging skin can be particularly challenging to treat using topical products alone. Fortunately, there are now a variety of different professional skin-tightening treatment options that don’t require a surgical procedure to help you achieve a smoother, tighter and more youthful look.
Ultrasound technology has long been used in the medical field, but is now widely used in nonsurgical skin tightening. Ultherapy is an FDA-cleared device that utilizes ultrasound energy to heat the skin to stimulate your own production of collagen, a key protein involved in maintaining firm, youthful skin. Ultherapy has been shown to lift and tighten loose neck and chin skin, sometimes referred to as a “turkey neck,” as well as smooth away the lines and wrinkles in other areas of the face and upper chest.
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Radiofrequency waves also heat and tighten loose or sagging skin. This method works similarly to ultrasound technology, in that it uses heat to stimulate the production of important proteins within the skin.
There are many radiofrequency devices used to tighten the skin such as venus legacy, Velashape and Thermage. The device that is chosen depends on the area of the body and if there are areas of unwanted fat. For example. Velashape tightens the skin and smooths the appearance of cellulite, while Thermage only tightens the skin.
Both ultrasound and radiofrequency skin tightening may take several months to produce their full results, but you should be able to enjoy noticeably tighter skin for up to three years.
Which Is Right for You?
The best way to decide which nonsurgical skin-tightening option is best for you is to talk to an experienced doctor. Your schedule and pain tolerance are important factors to take into account.
Ultherapy, for example, requires one to two treatments spaced three months apart. Ultherapy uses intense heat, which many find uncomfortable, so most patients choose to take a medication to relax them during the procedure. Patients who like hot showers tend to tolerate Ultherapy better than those who hate the feeling of heat.
Venus Legacy uses less heat but requires one treatment every week for six to eight weeks. Although there are many similarities among these treatments, your unique skin type, condition and goals will factor into your dermatologist’s recommendation for the most effective approach. In some cases, two or more different treatment options can be combined to help you get the desired outcome.
No matter which option(s) you and your doctor choose, it can be helpful to pair the right topical ingredients with your skin-tightening treatments to enhance your results. Topical retinol and a properly formulated vitamin C serum boost collagen production and help these machines work even better.
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.