When it comes to non-invasive anti-ageing treatments, most experts will agree on the top technologies; radiofrequency, performed with Thermage, and HIFU (high intensity focussed ultrasound), performed with Ultraformer or Ultherapy. What are the important differences between them? Does one work better than the others? Here is everything you need to know about these technologies, how they work and what makes them unique.
Collagen and Ageing
Collagen is a crucial component that preserves our skin’s youthful strength and elasticity. As we age, our skin’s collagen production decreases, leading to skin laxity and wrinkles. From our mid to late twenties, our skin starts to produce 1% less collagen each year, and even less so in the years leading up to menopause.
Book a comprehensive consultation for skin tightening results after just one session.
How do they work?
Thermage, Ultraformer and Ultherapy can all be used to improve collagen structures in your skin, which tightens and strengthens your skin to reduce sagging for a more youthful look and feel.
Thermage, Ultraformer and Ultherapy all induce heat in the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate collagen fibres. The heat causes the fibres to contract and regenerate, which restores their strength and elasticity, also then reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Thermage uses radiofrequency energy to induce heat, Ultraformer and Ultherapy use ultrasound energy (also known as HIFU), but there are a few other key differences between them.
What are the differences?
Aside from the type of energy used, the key differences between Thermage and Ultraformer/Ultherapy are in the depths and delivery of the energy.
Ultraformer and Ultherapy deliver multiple micro-pockets of energy into the deeper layers of the skin, which create controlled zones of heat from the inside outward. Thermage delivers energy from the surface of the skin downward, and it uses bulk heating. Because of this difference, our patients tend to find Ultraformer and Ultherapy to be more comfortable treatments.
With Thermage, we also have to use stronger settings to get the same results as with Ultraformer/Ultherapy, and this can make the treatment less comfortable as well.
The newer Thermage machine (Thermage FLX) delivers a cooling effect to the surface of the skin after each pulse of energy to bring the pain level down. With Ultraformer and Ultherapy, we provide a topical numbing cream to manage discomfort without minimising the collagen-stimulating heat in your skin.
Ultraformer and Ultherapy also give your Dermal Clinician more control over the depth of the energy in your skin. With these machines, we can choose to deliver energy to controlled depths of 1.5mm, 2mm, 3mm, and with Ultraformer, 4.5mm.
Heating the deeper layers of your skin will promote deeper collagen regeneration and a stronger, more elastic foundation to hold up the surface layers of skin. In fact, Ultraformer and Ultherapy reach a layer of skin known as the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system), which is the layer that surgeons would target with facelift surgery, hence why these treatments are sometimes called the “non-surgical facelift.”
At 4.5mm deep, Ultraformer can also target subcutaneous fat cells. While Ultherapy and Thermage can lift and tighten skin anywhere on the face, neck and body, Ultraformer can be used to tighten skin, reduce fat or smooth out cellulite. For this, we have special body transducers that can go to 6mm, 9mm and 13mm deep.
In addition to anti-ageing, Ultraformer is also a popular treatment for minimising a double chin.
Which one is best?
Rather than consider which treatment is best, we think it’s important to find the treatment that works best for you. Thermage might be a faster treatment, which means less time in clinic, but Ultraformer and Ultherapy offer more accuracy and control. Thermage, Ultraformer and Ultherapy can all achieve similar results with sagging and wrinkled skin.
If your main concern is loss of volume, you may want to consider a procedure that helps thicken the skin or add volume, such as dermal fillers. It’s often best to speak to a professional about your concerns, your treatment options, and to get some recommendations before deciding which treatment you choose.