Which is better: Thermage or Ulthera? - SW1 Clinic

Which is better: Thermage or Ulthera?


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Twenty years ago, the only effective way to deal with signs of aging – wrinkles and skin laxity – was to undergo a surgical facelift. These days, a variety of effective options are available to reverse the signs and stop aging in its tracks. If you’re already on the lookout for a non-invasive way to go about without needles and sans scapel, chances are you’ll stumble across Thermage and  Ulthera while doing your research. This is because these two are arguably the most popular FDA-approved, non-surgical facelift treatment and skin rejuvenating modalities to date. So what are the differences between Thermage and Ulthera and is one better than the other? While both technologies certainly deliver consistent results with tons of favorable testimonials from both patients and medical professionals, each has its own merits which might address the aging concerns of your skin better. Here are some useful facts about Thermage and Ulthera we hope can help you make an informed decision.

The fundamental difference

Both Thermage and Ulthera uses heat as a mechanism to stimulate collagen production in the deeper layers of your skin to help erase visible signs of aging. However, the similarity stops there for the type of energy each treatment uses to reach this goal is different.

Thermage uses patented monopolar radiofrequency (RF) waves to induce heat and has been around for more than 10 years since 2002. With the largest number of treated subjects scientifically assessed, Thermage has the most studied and published clinical trials amongst all the tissue tightening devices on the market. Ulthera on the other hand is a newer technology introduced later in 2009. It employs trial and tested ultrasound energy commonly known for medical imaging and physical therapy to safely firm, tighten and actually lift skin tissue without disrupting the surface of the treated areas, resulting in non-surgical cosmetics improvement of the skin.

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Depth of penetration

The radiofrequency energy produced by Thermage is able to generate higher temperatures deep in the dermis to stimulate collagen production. This is due to its in-built cooling mechanism which also spares skin’s surface, keeping it at safer and more tolerable temperatures. Therefore, such a mechanism doesn’t compromise on its efficacy for skin tightening.

By comparison, ultrasound scanning allows Ulthera to deliver a very precise dose of energy that reaches deeper down. How deep? It can reach depths that include the full thickness of the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System or SMAS, which is the very layer that plastic surgeons work on to tighten while performing minimally-invasive thread lifts and surgical facelifts. Ulthera is therefore an actual SMAS lifting device that gives better lifting of saggy skins.

Comparison of the depth of penetration between Thermage and Ulthera

Choosing one over the other — Are you a ‘sinker’ or ‘sagger’?

“When one ages, we can loosely categorise them into two big groups as ‘sinkers’ or ‘saggers’. While strictly speaking, everyone will be a combination of both just that one will be predominant over the other”. “If you’ve sharp and angular features and remain slim as you aged like Audrey Hepburn (sinker), volume loss and thin, crepey skin riddled with fine lines and wrinkles are likely to be your main concerns. Conversely, if your face is fairly full to begin with and had put on quite a bit of weight over the years like Elizabeth Taylor (sagger), heavy, sagging skin that create undesirable folds and jowls will constitute the outstanding features that aged you.”

To choose between the two, a predominant ‘sinker’ will benefit more from the superior skin tightening prowess of Thermage. The procedure is excellent for smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines, refining skin texture and tightens it. Unlike Ulthera which can only be applied to the sides for subtle brow-lifting, Thermage can be used across the full forehead to soften tram tracks-liked forehead lines; which proved to be useful especially if you aren’t quite ready or keen for Botox injections at the moment. In addition, Thermage comes with a special eye tip that can be applied directly to the upper eyelids to strengthen and tighten the delicate overlying skin. You’ll be able to achieve a more refreshed and youthful appearance this way.

With its deep tissue lifting ability, Ulthera is able to help ‘saggers’ achieve a more refined jawline and restore facial contours. It can lift and tighten jowls, droopy skin over the chin and neck to a younger and aesthetically pleasing proportion. The ability to utilise an established medical technology that allows the operator to directly visualise then treat with great precision below the skin helps to ensure both safety and satisfying results.

For both Thermage and Ulthera, results build gradually over the course of two to three months with continued improvement up to six months post treatment.

As all of us aged as both ‘sinkers’ and ‘saggers’, albeit predominantly one over the other, a combination of both Thermage and Ulthera will be the ultimate youth reviving experience to turn back the aging clock with synergistic effects that translate to overall improvement greater than the sum of its parts.

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Am I a good candidate?

Not everyone is cut out for either Thermage or Ulthera. If you’ve a significant amount of skin sagging or laxity on your face, the outcome of non-surgical modalities might not be satisfactory or meet your expectations. In this case, it is probably wiser to consult a plastic surgeon for your suitability to undergo a surgical facelift. While Baby Boomers seek out cosmetic surgery to deal with signs of aging set in stone, the current trend is to start early with non-invasive options such as Thermage and Ulthera that aim to prevent or delay the need for invasive surgical intervention. So there’s really no minimum age requirement so to speak, and can be done at the first signs of aging or perhaps even earlier to keep you looking youthful for as long as possible. Occasionally results are subclinical— the collagen building on the inside does not have a visible effect on the outside. However this does not equate to futile treatment for it is like “putting collagen in the bank”, a healthy investment towards your skin’s future!

Why you should go to SW1 Clinic

It’s not just the choice of technology but the experience of the provider that will determine the outcome of the treatment you underwent. Helmed by some of the best local aesthetic doctors, SW1 Clinic is one of the leading aesthetics clinics in Singapore. SW1 Clinic uses the latest third generation Thermage CPT (Comfort Pulse Technology) to provide reliable treatment at a therapeutic level that can be easily tolerated. In terms of the average number of patients treated per month with Thermage, SW1 Clinic ranks highest in Singapore. The original Ultherapy technology is employed to ensure the delivery of consistent and satisfactory results. With a wealth of experience under her belt as the first to offer this treatment in Singapore when it was first introduced in 2009, the answer is clear why Sw1 Clinic is an obvious choice for your anti-aging needs.

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