What to Know About Skin Tightening

Photo of author
Published on

As you age, wrinkles and sagging skin become more noticeable. This happens because your skin produces less elastin and collagen, which keep it firm and elastic.

Luckily, there are nonsurgical treatments available to tighten your skin. These treatments use technologies like radiofrequency, ultrasound, and lasers. However, it’s important to have these procedures done by a licensed professional and under a doctor’s supervision.

Types of Skin Tightening Treatments

Your skin relies on proteins like elastin and collagen for strength and flexibility. But as you get older, your body produces less of these proteins, causing your skin to lose its firmness.

Factors like gravity, pollution, stress, and facial muscle movements can also lead to sagging or stretched skin. Pregnancy and weight loss can further contribute to issues like stretch marks.

To combat these effects, there are nonsurgical skin tightening treatments available. They target loose skin areas and stimulate collagen production. These treatments come in two main forms:

  • In-office procedures: These are done by trained professionals.
  • At-home devices: You can use these to treat yourself.

In-office skin tightening procedures

  • Radiofrequency (Thermalift, Thermage, Exilis): Thermalift pioneered the collagen restoration concept. It involves controlled radio waves applied to the skin area needing tightening. It’s usually done with topical anesthesia or none at all, and there’s no recovery time needed. Thermage generally involves one session, though some may need more. Results are subtle initially and take about 4 months to fully show.
  • Intense Pulsed Light/Radiofrequency Procedure (Velashape):Velashape targets and shrinks fat cells using a handheld device that emits infrared waves to break down fat deposits. In most cases, radiofrequency waves are also utilized. While anesthesia isn’t needed, multiple appointments are often recommended for optimal results.

At Home Devices

  • Ultrasound Therapy: Ultrasound skin tightening involves sending ultrasound waves deep into your skin to boost collagen production. You can buy handheld devices online or at certain beauty stores. These gadgets can be pricey and require consistent use for noticeable results. However, without proper training, you might not get the results you’re hoping for.

Scientific Studies

The research on noninvasive skin tightening treatments suggests that they do work, although the results might not be as dramatic as other methods like microdermabrasion or surgery.

A review from 2015 found that 96% of studies on radiofrequency techniques reported significant results. However, many of these studies had methodological issues.

An older study from 2011, though limited by its small sample size, found radiofrequency to be effective in reducing facial wrinkles.

Another study from the same year concluded that a consumer device using radiofrequency was safe and effective, but its small size weakens the conclusion.

A more recent study from 2017, involving 25 participants, found radiofrequency-based skin tightening methods to be effective after multiple treatments, with high satisfaction rates among participants.

Side Effects

These procedures are usually performed in a doctor’s office and take less than an hour. You should be back to normal activities within a day and can manage mild discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers.

However, some people might experience the following side effects:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Tingling
  • Soreness

In rare cases, skin burning may occur.

You should be able to return to normal activities within a day and can manage mild discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers. To reduce the risk of serious complications, it’s advisable to have a licensed and trained practitioner administer the treatment.

Tissue Tightening Costs

Tissue tightening procedures are elective and not covered by insurance. You’ll pay out-of-pocket.

  • Radiofrequency treatments: Start at $200/session for areas like the abdomen. Expect multiple sessions, totaling $800 to $2,000.
  • Average cost of nonsurgical fat reduction services in 2018: $1,559.
  • At-home options: Cheaper, but still pricey. At-home radiofrequency and ultrasound devices start at $450, with most being even more expensive.

Where to Find a Provider

If you’re thinking about getting nonsurgical skin tightening treatment, you’ll need to find a trained provider. You can use the American Society of Plastic Surgeons database to look for a cosmetic surgeon in your area.

Surgical Alternatives for Skin Tightening

When it comes to tightening your skin, surgical options are more invasive but can provide dramatic results:

  • Facelifts and Tummy Tucks: These procedures offer significant tightening effects, but they require extensive recovery time. They deliver permanent and immediately noticeable results, aligning with your expectations for a more lasting change.
  • Liposuction: While technically a surgical procedure, liposuction is less risky than a tummy tuck. It can flatten your midsection but may leave the skin looking uneven or saggy in areas where fat was removed.

Surgical alternatives carry different risks compared to nonsurgical methods. They usually entail significant recovery periods and might put you at risk of infections and complications.

Final Words

While nonsurgical skin tightening treatments offer a safer option compared to surgery, there’s limited research on their effectiveness, and they can be costly.

If you’re considering this procedure, ensure to select a qualified, licensed provider. However, don’t be overly optimistic about visible results after just a few sessions.

Looking for professional skincare advice? Schedule an online consultation with dermatologist Dr. Ava Patel to address your concerns.

Leave a Comment

Online Skincare Consultation with Dr. Ashley Morgan