About a month ago, I was offered an opportunity to experience a Thermage facial treatment session courtesy of Asia Healthcare Associates, the exclusive distributor of Thermage in Singapore. Up until now, I have declined all offers for single-session services and treatments as most non-surgical treatments are unable to give visible improvements in just 1 session. Moreover, I do not want to promote any one local service provider as being superior to others, at the expense of being completely irrelevant to my overseas readers. However, I made an exception for Thermage as this is about the technology behind it (and not any particular aesthetics practitioner). Also, this is a company that I had known for over 10 years now, and watched it evolve over the years, so am personally interested in experiencing it. This post is going to be a tale not just about the business of beauty, but the geeky aspect of it all!
Where this tale begins…. The story of my life….
In my previous life, fresh out from business school, I had envisioned myself to become a savvy investor someday, and found a position in a Venture Capital firm in Silicon Valley. I was one of those generalists who are full-fledged techies at heart, without an actual engineering or medical degree to appreciate the finer details of the technology innovation. What I did take to heart, was how a team of incredibly youthful-looking guys sat in my office and spoke so passionately about their medical device that was going to change the aesthetics world. That company, was Thermage.
Even as a junior associate, I knew the market potential of Thermage. To be able to rejuvenate looks in a non-surgical way with no down-time was the holy grail of the aesthetics business. But I am a scaredy cat, and a little old-fashioned, brought up by my mom to embrace what nature has given me. However, times have changed, and we live in a world in which aesthetics treatments are more and more widely accepted and easily accessible. Whilst I’m still not sure where I stand on plastic surgery, Thermage falls under that whole other category of being completely non-invasive, i.e. no cutting open, nothing put in or taken out that is not “originally me”.
What is Thermage?
Thermage is an FDA-approved, non-invasive treatment that uses radiofrequency (“RF”) heat energy to kickstart the body’s own natural Collagen renewal process. It uses a unique monopolar technology that allows the RF heat energy to penetrate deeper into the dermis tissue than lasers are able to reach, and are therefore more effective, requiring only a single session for effects that lasts up to 1-2 years depending on individual’s skin condition and aging process. The RF heat energy works on the collagen fibers in the skin, causing them to contract, and hence tightening the skin. Depending on your needs, Thermage may be used to combat cellulite-dimpled skin on the body, reduce the appearance of wrinkles (lips and eyes included), counter sagging and create a more defined jawline.
A trained aesthetics doctor uses a specially designed treatment tip to deliver the RF heat energy on targeted areas, guided by a treatment grid and treatment protocols established by Thermage. Each treatment tip is good for a specific number of shots (your doctor will advise how many shots you need to achieve the ideal results), and disposed after each use.
Why Thermage now?
Even though I have been diligent in caring for my skin, there are things that even the best skincare products in the world cannot prevent. As I grow older, and the many demands of juggling a career – motherhood – blogging deprived me of sleep, I find the very structure of my skin has changed. For a few years now, I have noticed the deepening of my nasal labial lines, sagging jowls and the appearance of double chins. Even without zooming into the fine flaws, the overall look seems more tired, face appears “longer” and my cheeks lack that youthful bounce. At 35, I’m not quite ready for collagen fillers, nor have I quite made up my mind about Botox. I definitely do not require a surgical face lift nor do I want that drastic overnight change. Thermage seemed like an ideal way to reset the clock, help my skin regain its youthful appearance, and delay aging.
My personal experience…
Thermage is now into its 3rd generation, known in the industry as Thermage CPT (which stands for Comfort Pulse Technology). This improved platform incorporates vibration into its treatment tip in order make the treatment more comfortable for customers. When placed on the skin, the treatment tip vibrates to diffuse any sensation of pain caused by the RF pulses. The tip design and software have also been upgraded to ensure more uniform delivery of the RF energy for better visible results.
A typical session begins with a consultation with a trained aesthetics doctor, where you can (and should) highlight all your problem areas and any concerns. For me, I was most concerned about pain and the potential for burns. As I had a history of eczema, and have been using steroidal creams to control eczema flare-ups, my skin is thinner than the average. To minimize the possibility of side effects (which may include temporary redness, swelling, blisters, bumps and surface irregularities), my doctor decided to dial down the intensity from her original intended 4 (out of a maximum of 5) to 2.5 for my face, and 2 for my neck (where the skin is naturally thinner and where I had been using more steroidal creams).
After the consultation, I was shown into a comfortable treatment room where I removed my makeup, and a nurse applied a numbing cream. I was also given some anti-inflammatory painkillers to help minimize discomfort during the treatment. Thereafter, I was left alone for about 30 minutes to relax and for the numbing cream to take effect. Typically, the nurse will also apply a treatment grid before the treatment begins, which guides the doctor on where to place the treatment tip. However, some doctors may choose to skip the grid entirely as they are very familiar with the treatment.
The biggest question of all: Did it hurt?
Even though Thermage works by delivering RF heat energy deep into the skin, it does not cause any burning sensation on the surface as it is coupled with cryogen cooling at the before and after RF heat energy penetration. This also massively reduces the potential for burns and blistering post-treatment. At an intensity level of 2.5, I did not feel anything initially, not even the typical rubber-band-snap sensation that is commonly described with IPL treatments. However, as the doctor makes more passes on the same spots, the RF heat energy builds up. Up to a certain point, I did experience intense sharp jabs. The intensity varies depending on how thin/thick the skin is at that particular spot, and how many passes has been done. I did not feel anything at all on the fleshiest part of my cheeks, but on the sides of my temples and jawline where there is less flesh, I felt it more.
It would be a lie to say the treatment was pain-free. However, whenever I felt anything, I made sure my doctor knew, and she adjusted accordingly. Simple techniques like giving that spot a brief rest and moving onto other parts of the face before returning later, or even taking a break in between the treatment, helps. For me, I just wanted to plough on and get it over with, but lots of other patients request for a break, so don’t be embarrassed to speak up! If necessary, the doctor may also dial down the intensity, and she did dial it down for my neck from 2.0 to 1.5.
I was very thankful that by letting my doctor know about my concerns and medical history, and giving her feedback about my comfort throughout the process, she was able to adjust accordingly and I left without suffering any side effects at all! No redness, no burns or swelling. However, I did find the surface of my skin to be slightly drier than usual for the following 2-3 days, and there was some slight peeling which I fixed with just home exfoliation and lots of moisturizer. After which, I found my skin much plumper and smoother than it has been for a long time!!
It has been about a month since my Thermage treatment, and I have noticed my jawline has become more defined and my face is better sculpted than before. The thing I’m most happy about is that my nasal labial lines are much less pronounced! Overall, minor changes that others may not immediately notice, but as I often take selfies for my makeup reviews, I definitely recognize the improvements. And I’ve been told I will see even more improvements in the months to come as my skin slowly rebuilds itself internally.
This is one of my most recent photo, which you may compare against this which was taken just weeks before my Thermage treatment!
I had my Thermage treatment done at Singapore Aesthetic Center located at 10 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307506. If you are interested to find out more about Thermage, please head over to their website or Facebook page. Of course, feel free to leave me any questions you may have below, and I’ll do my best to answer them!
This is a sponsored post, and it contains affiliate links. Regardless, I have tried to express as honest, and unbiased a perspective as possible.