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Thermage Doc


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Thomas S. Powers, M.D.
2054A Westminster Mall
Westminster, CA 92683
1-866- GO SMOOTH
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Doris J. Day, M.D.
Not too long ago, if you had loose, sagging facial skin with many wrinkles, the surgeon made an incision, pulled up the underlying muscles and skin to make them tighter, trimmed the excess tissues, stitched it all back in place and sent the groggy patient home to recover for at least several weeks. The patient was so woozy because she had been put to sleep under general anesthesia. And, because her skin was opened while the internal tissues pulled to and fro, alley-fight bruising usually followed.

Now, technology has pushed the cosmetic surgery easy button. For the last several years, some plastic and cosmetic surgeons have been using a radio frequency device known as Thermage to help restore a more youthful appearance. The mechanism tightens skin while removing the need for an incision, stitches, general anesthesia and that dreaded long recovery period. Moreover, Thermage is the only F.D.A. approved, non-invasive device for tightening loose skin in the United States.

“Thermage works by sending a special form of radio frequency energy through the outer layer of skin down to the mid and lower layers,” says Thomas S. Powers, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon with offices in Westminster and Brea, California.

“Radio frequency causes the collagen in those layers to retract against the heat and form more collagen which, over time, plumps up your skin and removes wrinkles.” Collagen is the body’s basic building block and the major component of skin, tendons and connective tissue.

Depending on the size of the area to be treated, the procedure may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. The device is not intended to replace a full surgical facelift but instead offers smaller, quicker improvements.

“After the treatment, the patient can leave immediately and return to her normal activities,” says Dr. Powers who has performed over 350 Thermage sessions, including one on himself. Because Thermage has been featured on Oprah six times, most patients are familiar with the device and what it does.

“Some patients show only a little redness which disappears quickly,” says Dr. Powers who adds that no other special care is needed after Thermage. Moreover, one study revealed that all test subjects were treated with a single session and had good results. Yet another study revealed that improvements in skin lasted three to five years after a single treatment.

The Thermage procedure is also known among plastic and cosmetic surgeons as ThermaLift, Thermal Lifting, ThermaPlasty and thermoplastic contouring. The F.D.A. first approved Thermage’s technology in 2002. Now, the firm is expanding internationally and has tripled the number of nations in which it operates during the last year. The company recently started offering its treatments in China.

A special fitting on the tip of Thermage cools the patient’s skin during treatment. Most patients receiving Thermage say they feel an immediate coolness, followed by a brief hot sensation, followed by yet another cool tingle.

According to Thermage, Inc. in Hayward, California, the technology is also being used to treat the rest of the body. Consequently, the company is studying the results in many hundreds of patients to develop the best possible treatment protocol so that other clinicians can be trained. The firm reckons about 190,000 patients have been treated to date; about 2000 dermatologists, plastic surgeons and other cosmetic physicians offer the procedure, worldwide.

A third study found that Thermage combined with five commonly injected soft tissue fillers like Restylane, Radiance or Botox works well to improves skin laxity, -- its looseness -- and volume. So Dr. Powers and a few other surgeons get even better results in the fight against aging by using a somewhat longer session of Thermage while injecting the appropriate filler into the very deepest facial lines and wrinkles.



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