Thermage vs Ultherapy: Which one is right for you?

Thermage vs Ultherapy is still a hot topic even though both have been in the market for many years now. Thermage is using radiofrequency energy and Ultherapy is one of many medical devices that uses HIFU(High Intensity Focused Ultrasonography) technology.

thermage vs ultherapy laser skin ablation

These procedures are one of the most popular anti-aging procedures. There are surgical method such as facelift, and multiple non-invasive methods including chemical skin peel, micro peeling, laser treatment, etc. You can get rid of facial wrinkles and make your skin tighter as a result. Most of these procedures either apply heat to or remove damaged, aged tissues. This would result in regeneration of collagen under the skin surface, improving face wrinkles subsequently.

However, downside of these procedures involve longer downtime and there are side effects like pigmentation, scars, or inflammation. Thermage and Ultherapy are new type of procedures that have minimized these side effects by only stimulating the dermis layer.

Thermage vs Ultherapy : How it works

thermage wclinic

Thermage

Using radiofrequency laser, it instantly heats up the dermis layer up to 40-55 celsius. This heat will create collagen contraction within dermis layer. It results in tighter skin, as well as wrinkle removal. There are no scars since it doesn’t involve any incision or peeling. Also, while collagen is receiving heat, skin surface will be protected by cooling spray. This results in same effect as deep skin peeling without damaging epidermis at all.

ulthera skinbanobagi Data source : skinbanobagi.com

Ultherapy

Ultrasound energy is delivered all the way down to the deepest section of skin, SMAS layer. It would instantly heat up to 60-70 celsius. This energy regerates collagen and elastic, that will result in tighter skin. No scars are involved since it is using ultrasound technology. Also, with the device, the doctor can see SMAS layer with his/her own eyes while inducing the regeneration of substances of the dermis layer.

Thermage vs Ultherapy : Types of Energy

thermage vs ultherapy rf energy

Thermage

Radiofrequency is type of electromagnetic waves that has frequency range between 3kHz and 300MHz. It was traditionally used for removing liver, prostate, and thyroid tutor. From early 2000s, new medical devices using radiofrequency in dermatology area started to emerge. Nowadays, it is commonly used for cosmetic treatment purpose. Exposing radiofrequency wave inside the skin will generate electricity when it passes the skin tissue, and heat energy is transferred by this electricity. Skin tightening effect takes place by the heat energy. Moreover, damaged collagen cell regeneration is accelerated by the heat energy.

thermage vs ultherapy hifu

Ultherapy

HIFU technology is used in devices such as Ultherapy and Shurink. This method is creating momentary heat wave in a specific area within the skin tissue by transmitting high-intensity frequency ultrasound waves. It creates coagulation and necrosis in a very specific targeted area with heat, and it does not damage surrounding tissues. Traditional usage was treating malignant, benign tutors and only recently has been started to use for cosmetic purposes.

Level of penetration of thermal energy

thermags vs ultherapy shurink

Thermage

Thermage only penetrates into shallower area of skin tissues - from dermis to part of subcutaneous fat layer. On the other hand, it covers wider area, more energy volume at a time.

Ultherapy

Ultherapy involves ultrasound energy that penetrates into deeper part of skin tissue. It goes all the way to deep part of dermis, fat layer, and finally reaches SMAS layer - which is placed right above muscles. Heat energy is concentrated in smaller spots, and the practitioner can choose which area to focus on.

What is SMAS Layer?

thermage vs ultherapy smas

SMAS layer is a fibromuscular layer that sits 4.5mm inside the skin. It is also described as “facial muscle layer”. With aging, SMAS layer becomes thinner that result in additional wrinkles and sagging skin. Surgical facelift method also targets this layer. Devices like Ultherapy and Shurink enable accurate procedure since it uses ultrasound visual functions that shows the location of SMAS layer on the screen.

Thermage vs Ultherapy : Result

thermage before after

Thermage

  • Sagging skin, wrinkles: Thermage regenerates damaged collagen, and it results in healthier, firmer skin
  • Large pores: Developed sebaceous gland creates excessive sebum secretion. It results in larger pores. Thermage can improve this issue.
  • Drooping belly and arm fat: Thermage can improve cellulite issues in various body area

ultherapy before after

Ultherapy

  • Sagging skin, wrinkles: Aging SMAS layer results in sagging face and wrinkles. Ultherapy stimulates rejuvenation by transmitting high-intensity ultrasound energy directly to SMAS layer. It will improve sagging and wrinkles.
  • Facial line improvement: Modified facial line due to sagging skin will be fixed by Ultherapy. It will result in sharper, tighter line.
  • Large pores: Developed sebaceous gland creates excessive sebum secretion. It results in larger pores. Ultherapy can improve this issue.

Maximum effect & Duration of effect

Thermage

Thermage treatment will result in immediate tightening effect due to collagen contraction and metamorphosis. Maximum result will be shown after 3-4 months when collagen regeneration effect is fully realised. Single treatment lasts for 1-2 years. Regular treatment could result in longer, consistent effect.

Ultherapy

Immediate tightening effect takes place, and natural wound healing process starts to take place which is completed in 60-90 days typically. This is when maximum effect is visible. Noticeable change is shown after 30days and post 90days is the peak effect. Single treatment can last 1-2 years, and regular treatment frequency would be once a year. If you have serious aging issue, 2nd treatment after 3-6months is advised. When conducted on a regular basis, you could prevent collagen volume from shrinking, and maintain a consistent collagen regeneration which result in younger looks.

Thermage vs Ultherapy : Suitable skin type

Thermage

  • Thin skin with less facial fat
  • Less severe sagging, shallow wrinkles

Ultherapy

  • Reduces volume of fat layer - someone with thicker facial skin and fat layer is more suitable
  • Deep wrinkles, severe sagging can be cured

Thermage vs Ultherapy : Comparison Table

Thermage Ultherapy
Type of Energy RF HIFU
FDA Approval Date 2002 2009
Level of Penetration of Thermal Energy Lower dermis and part of subcutaneous fat layer trasmitted through epidermis All of epidermis, dermis, SMAS layer, directly transmitted selected 1.4-4.5mm area
Heat Temperature 40~55°C 60~70°C
Pain Minor pain Minor pain
Maximum Effect 3~4 months post procedure 2~3 months post procedure
Duration of Effect 1~2 years 1~2 years
Result Improvement of sagging skin, shallow wrinkles, large pores, and drooping body fat Improvement of sagging skin, facial line, and large pores
Suitable Skin Type Thin skin with less facial fat.
Less severe sagging, shallow wrinkles.
Thicker facial skin and fat layer is more suitable.
Deep wrinkles, severe sagging.

Interested in receiving Thermage or Ultherapy treatment in Korea? Browse our Thermage/Ultherapy treatments or contact us here to see which which treatment is the best for you.

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