Non-invasive procedure targets nagging wrinkles
Jodie Herzog of Detroit Lakes, Minn., has a basic philosophy when it comes to her appearance. The first thing people see when they look at her is her face. "If I can keep up on it now, I hope I won't have to get (a facelift) done," she says.
Jodie Herzog of Detroit Lakes, Minn., has a basic philosophy when it comes to her appearance.
The first thing people see when they look at her is her face.
"If I can keep up on it now, I hope I won't have to get (a facelift) done," she says. "I just think it's worth spending a little money now to keep up."
Part of that maintenance is regular micro-dermabrasions, which scrub away dead skin cells.
But as Herzog, 40, looked at brochures in her esthetician's office, she noticed fine print that said many of the before-and-after models had undergone a relatively new procedure, Thermage, which tightens skin tissue around the eyes or mouth.
"I grew up tanning all the time; I was a lifeguard for years," Herzog says, joking that her crow's feet had tan lines.
"I have really, really deep-set eyes, so I need all the help I can get."
Herzog received a Thermage treatment in October, shortly after Fargo facial plastic surgeon Dr. Susan Mathison received the device.
Thermage delivers pulses of radiofrequency energy to heat collagen in the lower layers of the skin. A cooling spray protects the top layer of skin.
Collagen is a protein that supports the structure of the skin. With age, collagen depletes due to exposure to sun and other environmental factors. The result is loose skin and wrinkles.
Heating the collagen causes it to tighten and grow over time.
"It is amazing what it can do," Herzog says. "I don't have any wrinkles around my eyes anymore."
In the five months since her treatment, Herzog says she continually sees more improvements, and would like to have the procedure done on her neck.
Mathison says Thermage is ideal for people in their late 30s or early 40s who have noticed mild sagging, fine lines or a tired look.
"They may not be quite ready to do a major procedure, but it's a nice tune-up," she says.
At the end of a treatment, Mathison will give herself a few pulses under her chin, trying to tighten up her jowls.
Mathison had heard about Thermage for the last six years. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2002, she says.
"Being female, I kind of investigate things that interest me," Mathison says. "The less invasive things have always attracted me."
Other non-invasive treatments include the long-used collagen injections to plump up lips and fine lines; Botox, which paralyzes facial muscles to smooth out frown lines between the eyebrows; and Restylane, a newcomer to the market.
Restylane, a clear, injectable gel, was approved by the FDA in December. Made with hyaluronic acid, it fills moderate to severe wrinkles around the nose and mouth. The product offers immediate results which last about six months.
Last month, an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" focused exclusively on looking younger, featuring Restylane and Thermage.
"The results with the less invasive treatments are mild to moderate," Mathison says.
In baseball terms, she says while a facelift is a home run, these procedures are base hits, so she recommends using them in combination.
With Thermage, the results are subtle, not dramatic, and it takes about six months to see full results. The results can last for several years.
The procedure takes only an hour, and requires little or no recuperation.
"People are excited about the potential for doing some nice things to their face without everybody knowing about it," she says.
Mathison charges $1,200 to do the upper face, $1,800 for the lower face and neck and $2,500 for the full face and neck.
When treating half the face, Mathison will deliver 150 pulses of energy.
The procedure does hurt -- Mathison describes the pain like drips of hot wax onto the skin. The higher the level of energy, the sharper the sting is. Some patients choose to use a painkiller.
Mathison says it's possible that the device may be approved in the future for use on the arms, stomach and inner thighs.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525