With non-surgical skin tightening, cosmetic surgeons can effectively tighten moderately lax or “crepey” skin on the face, neck and body, helping patients improve their appearance and postpone the need for surgery.
Why consider non-surgical skin tightening?
As we age, production of collagen and elastin—two proteins that help our skin stay plump, firm and smooth—slows down, resulting in areas of lax, sagging skin on the face, neck and body. If you are bothered by skin laxity, non-surgical skin tightening can temporarily halt this process and restore a firmer, smoother, more youthful appearance with little to no downtime.
Benefits of non-surgical skin tightening
- Tightens mild to moderately loose skin on the face, neck or body without surgery or scars
- Many treatments can provide a noticeable “lifting” effect
- Little to no downtime is needed
- Very low risk of adverse effects when performed by a qualified provider
- Treatments can be performed in-office, typically in 1 hour or less
- Results can last up to 1 year
Non-surgical skin tightening treatments & technologies
Outlined below are the most common FDA cleared technologies available in the U.S.
Ultrasound skin tightening
Some skin tightening treatments use focused ultrasound energy, which heats skin at specific depths and locations to induce collagen production and help skin become firmer. Treatments are delivered via a handheld device, which transmits the ultrasound waves through the skin’s surface. Ultrasound technology has been used in medicine for many decades, and ultrasound skin tightening has an excellent safety profile.
Fast facts about ultrasound skin tightening:
- Ultherapy®, the most widely used name brand, is FDA cleared to treat the brow, chin, neck and chest
- Best for patients who want to treat early signs of aging on the face and neck
- Can help postpone need for facelift surgery
- Treatments take 30 to 90 minutes, with no downtime
- Patients may experience temporary discomfort while the ultrasound energy is being delivered
- Side effects are typically mild and include temporary redness, bruising, and numbness
- Results are seen within 2 to 3 months and can last up to a year with good at-home skincare
Radiofrequency (RF) treatments
Radiofrequency (RF) energy can also be used to heat the skin and trigger collagen production. In contrast to ultrasound, RF focuses on epidermal layers to achieve a firmer, smoother appearance.
Fast facts about RF skin tightening:
- FDA cleared options can treat the face, neck, hands, and body
- Treatments can be performed in-office, typically involve little to no discomfort, and require no downtime
- Most RF-only treatments are safe for all skin types
- Some procedures are considered “subdermal” and require one very small incision using local anesthesia
- Results appear gradually over several months following treatment
- A series of 2 to 6 treatments may be recommended for optimal results
PL/RF combination treatments
A third class of skin tightening treatments combine intense pulsed light (IPL) with radiofrequency (RF) to heat deeper layers of skin and induce the natural healing response, which in turn triggers collagen production. The addition of IPL allows a provider to treat skin at multiple levels and can help focus the RF energy for more effective treatment. Commonly used treatments include Refirme® and VelaShape®.
Fast facts about IPL/RF combination treatments:
- Treatments can be performed in-office with little to no downtime
- Patients typically experience little to no discomfort
- Results appear gradually as the skin produces new collagen
- A series of treatments may be recommended for optimal results
- IPL treatments may not be suitable for darker or tanned skin