Which Skin-Tightening Treatment Should You Try?

Skin tighteners are noninvasive and doctor-administered machines that employ energy-either radiofrequency, infrared light or both-to tighten the skin below the surface by heating the dermis. This causes existing collagen to contract and new collagen to be produced.

As skin-tightening science advances, doctors are able to determine what really works and what doesn't, which is why some once-popular treatments are being used less and less.

Here's a current guide you may want to consider before you look into a skin-tightening treatment.

PREFERRED BY THE PROS
THERMAGE: Considered by many to be the preferred treatment for tightening the skin.
ACCENT: This is the most widely used machine for the body.

FALLING OUT OF FAVOR
COOLTOUCH: While it improves skin tone and may help makeup go on better, most doctors feel this doesn't offer a dramatic improvement.
SMOOTHBEAM: Doctors report that this never really tightened the skin, especially compared to more current technology.
TITAN: Even though it's not FDA-approved for skin tightening (it's used off-label), many experts feel it doesn't offer noticeable results.

Share your own skin-tightening treatment experiences by leaving a comment below.

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8 Comments
  • karen
    Posted on

    venus freeze is worthless. It did nothing

  • Andrea
    Posted on

    I too am trying to understand the difference between Ulthera and Venus Freeze. I know Venus Freeze is usually several sessions, and Ulthera doesn't. Ulthera is more painful and more expensive, but I really want to understand which is more effective for the longest term.

  • Posted on

    what are the thoughts about venus freeze treatments for face? seems that the combination of mpt and rf results in increased collagen but also affects adipocytes and therefore fat content. Isn't this somewhat concerning for the face given that you want fat as well as collagen?

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Dr. Fitzgerald, thanks for the overview; what has your experience been with abdominal skin tightening? As you mentioned, surgery is sometimes the only solution for skin laxity, however, I have a tight stomach (decent abdominal tone) and only slight amounts of excess skin from having children and have been considering these treatments abdominally.

  • Rebecca Fitzgerald Anonymous
    Posted on

    Deciding on a skin tightening procedure can get a little involved. It often depends on what areas you want tightened and whether or not you have surface skin irregularities along with skin laxity. It also depends on the level of laxity - sometimes you have nowhere to go but to a plastic surgeon if you have more than a moderate amount of skin sagging. Thermage was the "first" and still gets a fair amount of use, but newer technologies are rapidly expanding the playing field. Ultherapy with ultrasound is showing considerable benefit because of the deeper levels that are affected. Ultherapy is not designed to impact surface skin and does all its work at the SMAS levels (same levels as surgical lift - but not with equivalent results of surgery - or surgical risks, either for that matter. Fractional CO2 lasers and RF (radio frequency) devices like eMatrix impact both surface skin and promote skin tightening collagen, but don't reach the same treatment depths as ultrasound. Budget and allowable downtime also factor in. CO2 laser comes with downtime, as does eMatrix when used at effective levels. Ultherapy or Thermage, on the other hand, don't "wound" the skin surface, so outside of redness or some slight swelling, they don't require much aftercare. The technology is not cheap - and thus the treatments themselves aren't either. Having reasonable expectations for nonsurgical procedures is also important. Thus far, there is nothing that matches surgery for tightening, so set your acceptable outcome goals under the surgical bar.

  • www.mdlsv.com
    Posted on

    Dr. Baxter is right! Here at Maryland Laser, Skin & Vein Institute we use the Ulthera as well and have seen great results! I had one brow that was slightly lower than the other and now 3 months post Ulthera nobody can tell which brow it was.

  • Richard Baxter Anonymous
    Posted on

    There is a whole new technology category that bears mentioning here. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, is used to target the subdermal layers for a lifting effect. Because it is combined with an ultrasound image, the layer to be treated can be visualized and the treatment delivered with precision. Ulthera is the device that is FDA-cleared for facial procedures at this time, while other HIFU platforms are designed to go deeper for contouring (e.g.,Liposonix, which is not FDA-cleared but available in other countries.)

  • Ciaobella
    Posted on

    I have experienced amazing skin-tightening and collagen-building results with the Quasar Pro. I'm almost 70 years old but could easily pass for 45!

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