Kent V. Hasen, MD: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery & Med Spa of Naples
3699 Airport Pulling Road North
Naples, FL 34105

Thermage - An Alternative to Plastic Surgery

Bonita Living Magazine - May/June 2004

This new technique takes the sting out of tightening skin.

If the idea of turning back the hands of time appeals to you, but the thought of plastic surgery does not, a procedure known as Thermage® might be just the answer to your quandary.

Thermage®, is a non-surgical technique performed with a wand-like advanced radio-frequency device called ThermaCool TC™, which can take years off of a person's face. The procedure has been FDA-approved since November 2002, after having been in clinical trials for 5 years and two local MD's make use of Thermage® in their practic

Dr. Kent V. Hasen, M.D. has a solo practice in Naples and has had 80 patients undergo the treatment. According to him, Thermage® will not replace facelifts but for patients with a minor amount of laxity (no hanging necks or big jowls here) Thermage® may be just the ticket.

The procedure lifts eyebrows by lifting and contouring the forehead which gives a more open appearance to the eyes - but the results are subtle, not dramatic changes.

But drama is what some patients want.

"They see Thermage® on Oprah and our switchboard lights up," says Hasen.

The procedure is ideal for people in their early 40's (one treatment may be enough) and 50's (two treatments may be needed.) Patients come in an hour early and receive oral sedation like Valium. His assistant then does a light microdermabrasion that allows for better absorption of the topical anesthesia. (Hasen also sometimes uses nerve blocks like those used in dental work to prevent pain.) Then the hour-long procedure begins. A grid is applied to the face in the form of a temporary tattoo and a one-centimeter square disposable treatment tip is used, in two passes on each area, with the machine set at a single setting. One side of the face is done, than it is iced, while the other side is done. A cooling spray is applied to prevent damage to the outer layer of the skin and heat energy is applied in the form of radio frequency waves to the deeper dermis.

The Thermage® procedure breaks down collagen molecules which become "uncoiled" or "denatured," so the body is forced to have an inflammatory reaction. The procedure stimulates cells to create new and denser collagen - thus more fully filling the skin and tightening the whole.

There is usually no pain afterwards, though the degree of redness and swelling is dictated by the skin's sensitivity (redheads and those with sensitive skin will notice more swelling and may require elevation and icing for a few days.) For those with "normal" skin, ice and elevation are required only the first night and 80% of patients may resume their normal activities the next day.

Results are not immediately apparent. Over the course of the next 2 - 4 months, most patients do notice and improvement. "The effects may last 2 - 5 years, dependent on skin type and the inevitable effects of gravity," says Dr. Hasen.

The procedure is priced from $1500-$3700 depending on which of the treatment areas (forehead, face and neck) are done. Researchers are also looking into using the procedure, with a bigger tip, for the abdomen, arms and legs, though Hasen doesn't yet do this.

Another improvement is the use of a speed tip, cutting down on the time the wand is being used, significantly reducing discomfort.

Though some dermatologists are offering the Thermage® procedure, Hasen believes a patient considering the procedure should consult a plastic surgeon.

"I can give an honest assessment of a patient's chances of achieving what he or she hopes with Thermage®, understanding the anatomy of the face," says Hasen. "I can tell them whether the technique will give them the results they seek or whether another procedure would more likely give them their sought-after results."

By K.W. Comerford

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