What Is Thermage: Everything You Need to Know About the Skin Tightening Treatment

Medical Spa

11 minute read


Before and After Thermage: Image Source Solta MD. 

Have you ever wondered what celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston have done to get smooth skin as they enter their forties and fifties? One of the things that helps these Hollywood stars wipe away the signs of aging and achieve their youthful glow is Thermage.  

What is Thermage? Thermage is a cutting-edge, non-surgical skin tightening treatment that targets sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles. A single round of Thermage skin treatment encourages the skin to improve in tone, texture and appearance.  

We offer in Mississauga at our GraceMed McLean Clinic. You can book an appointment for a personal consultation and see whether a Thermage procedure is a right fit for you.  

Before you book your appointment, you should read this article to get all of the answers to your Thermage questions.

How Does Thermage Work?

How does Thermage work? Thermage emits radiofrequency energy into the skin’s dermis (the layer of skin that lies beneath the surface). The heat from this energy separates water molecules from collagen (the structural protein that makes the skin smooth, supple and elastic) in the dermis. This separation forces the collagen to contract, which tightens the surface layer. 

This initial tightening is not the extent of Thermage’s capabilities. The before and after photos for Thermage do not show the results right after the appointment. Most of the results show up later. 

How? The radiofrequency energy stimulates the targeted area to produce more collagen naturally. More collagen means the skin will be tighter, smoother and younger-looking. Patients will notice these gradual changes in the months after their appointment.   

What Will an Appointment Be Like?

First, the medical aesthetician will prep the skin so that it’s nice and clean. Then, they will use a handheld device to deliver radiofrequency energy into the targeted area. You may feel a brief sensation of heat every time that the radiofrequency energy is used.  

How long will it take? It depends on the areas that you’re treating. Smaller areas on the face (for example, the eyelids) will take less time than treating larger areas of the body (for example, the thighs). 

What Should You Do to Prepare for Your Appointment?

Thermage is a non-surgical procedure, so it doesn’t require much preparation on the patient’s end. On the day of your treatment, you should come in with clear skin.  Remove any makeup and skincare products from the areas that you want to treat.   

You should avoid having chemical peels before your Thermage appointment. Why? A chemical peel damages a layer of skin to encourage a newer, smoother layer of skin to grow. It takes time for your skin to fully heal after getting one, especially when you’ve received a deep chemical peel.  

So, if you have had a chemical peel recently, you should let your medical aesthetician know during your consultation. They will space out your Thermage accordingly.  

What Should You Do for Aftercare?

There is no special aftercare necessary for Thermage. You can resume your normal skincare regimen after your appointment and go about your regular activities.  

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Thermage?

One of the biggest benefits of Thermage is that there is no downtime! You won’t need to take time off to recover.  

Your skin may experience some mild swelling and pinkness/redness. The pinkness/redness should recede in 24 hours. The swelling should recede within a few days. 

When Will You See Results?  

It’s possible that you will see results immediately after your appointment. Patients can see some slight changes in the tightness and texture of their skin after the treatment. However, you’re more likely to notice results after three to six months once your body has produced new collagen.  

Browse our website to find the before and after pictures for Thermage patients and see the difference! 

How Many Thermage Treatments Do You Need?

Thermage isn’t a skin treatment that requires frequent upkeep. In most cases, patients are happy with their results after one appointment. 

Thermage results typically last for 1-2 years. This depends on the patient’s skin and age — an older patient may notice that their results fade sooner than a younger patient. Once patients notice that their results are fading, they should book a follow-up Thermage skin treatment.  

Where Do You Use Thermage?

Thermage can tighten the skin in multiple areas. Common treatment spots are the face, the arms, the abdomen and the thighs. It can also pinpoint smaller areas like the knees, the jawline, around the lips, and around the eyes.  

Can Thermage Treat Every Skin Tone?

Some cosmetic treatments (for example, laser hair removal) work better for certain skin tones and types. Thermage is not one of those cosmetic treatments! One of the biggest benefits of a Thermage procedure is that it can be used on all skin types and tones.  

Who Is the Best Candidate?

Who is the best candidate for Thermage? The best candidate would be someone who has started to see mild to moderate sagging, fine lines and wrinkles on their skin. Many patients are middle-aged and want to address the signs of aging early so that they can avoid a more invasive solution in the future (for example, a surgical facelift).  

Who Isn’t the Best Candidate?

Are there exceptions for candidates? It’s not recommended as a treatment for younger patients who have yet to show these signs of aging — there are plenty of laser skin treatments that are better suited to treat their issues. Candidates that have severe sagging and wrinkles should also look into alternative cosmetic solutions, such as blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), brow lifts or facelifts.  

Book a consultation with a surgeon to discuss the best way to achieve the results that you’re looking for.  

Is Thermage Safe?

Yes, Thermage is a very safe procedure. It’s not invasive, it requires no anesthesia, and it comes with a very low risk of developing complications. Patients typically experience side effects like swelling and redness, which will resolve in a short amount of time on their own.  

What Are the Potential Complications?

The risk of complications with Thermage is very low. However, there is still a possibility of developing bumps, blisters, lumps, numbness, tingling or hyperpigmentation after an appointment. These complications are treatable and temporary. 

These complications are more likely to occur when you go to an unqualified provider. Going to a provider with the right education, experience and technique will better your chances of receiving excellent results.  

Is Thermage Painful?

Thermage can be uncomfortable, and some patients can find it painful to go through. Why is that? When the handheld device applies radiofrequency energy to the skin, it can create a hot or painful sensation.  

The good news is you and your provider can take several precautions to reduce pain and discomfort:  

  • Patients can take a painkiller before the procedure (like extra-strength Tylenol). 
  • Thermage can be performed with vibration, which can diminish any unpleasant sensations.  
  • Thermage CPT (Comfort Pulse Technology) comes with cooling that can diminish any unpleasant sensations.  
  • Medical aestehticians’ performing the treatment can lower the Thermage device’s energy settings.  

Our specialists take patients’ feedback about pain/discomfort seriously. If a higher setting feels too unpleasant, we will adjust the device and use a lower energy setting. Patients should feel confident to speak out about their pain/discomfort at any time.  

What Will Help You Optimize Your Results?

Thermage doesn’t require any specific aftercare, but it’s recommended that patients follow a good skincare regimen to make sure that they get the most out of their results.  

Patients should apply sunscreen to their exposed skin before they go outside to protect their skin from the effects of sun damage. They should also use top-quality skincare products to cleanse and moisturize their face. Take a look at the medical-grade skincare that we have available at our clinics and med-spas. These are excellent products to incorporate into your morning/nighttime skincare routines.  

Patients don’t have to use Thermage and only Thermage. They can look into additional treatments to optimize their results. See what facial rejuvenating procedures are available at our medi spa in Mississauga to get healthy, younger-looking skin. 

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels  

What Other Skin Tightening Treatments Are Available? 

Thermage might not be the right fit for you. If that’s the case, there are several other skin-tightening treatments that you could try to improve the look and feel of your skin. Here are a few examples that we offer at GraceMed clinics: 

Exilis Ultra  

Exilis Ultra is a non-invasive skin tightening treatment that uses radiofrequency and ultrasound technology. Similar to Thermage, a smedical aesthetician uses this technology to safely heat the skin to tighten the area and encourage new collagen growth.  

An additional benefit that comes with Exilis Ultra is that it can be used to target and eliminate stubborn pockets of fat. So, patients can use the treatment to contour areas where it’s difficult to shed pounds (for example, the inner thighs). 

Sciton SkinTyte 

SkinTyte is a non-invasive treatment that uses pulsed light technology. The pulsed light technology creates infrared energy to heat the collagen in the dermis. This firms up the skin and encourages newer collagen growth.  


Renuvion (formerly called J-Plasma) is a minimally invasive skin-tightening treatment that uses a combination of helium and radiofrequency energy. It can be applied to the surface of the skin and subdermally (beneath the skin). The radiofrequency energy heats the collagen, firms the skin and stimulates collagen production. The helium cools the tissue simultaneously — this is a built-in safety net to minimize the chance of thermal injury.  

How Do These Skin Problems Happen?

How do wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin happen? There are a variety of factors.  


As you get older, your skin produces less collagen and elastin. Collagen is the protein that keeps the skin smooth and supple. Elastin is the protein that keeps skin elastic and taut. The natural decrease of these proteins will lead to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin that won’t snap back into place.  

It’s also common to lose fat beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) as you age. You will start to lose fat in your cheeks, chin, nose and under your eyes. This loss of subcutaneous padding will make facial creases and folds look deeper and enhance the appearance of sagging.  

These changes are completely normal. They’re part of the body’s natural aging process. However, there are certain lifestyle choices that can make these normal skin changes appear earlier than they should.  

Sun Damage 

Prolonged sun damage can speed up the skin’s natural aging process, leading to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging earlier than you anticipated. Why? UV rays penetrate the skin and damage the existing collagen and elastin fibres, which encourages the body to develop fine lines and wrinkles. You can learn more about how facial summer damage happens on our blog.  

It’s important that you always wear sun protection. Wear dermatologist-approved sunscreens, wide-brimmed hats and UV-protection sunglasses when you go outside during the day. And avoid sunbathing from this point forward, or you might regret it later.  


Smoking cigarettes can also cause premature signs of aging. The smoke damages collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles, fine lines and sagging. The ingredient nicotine also narrows blood vessels, which delivers oxygen and essential nutrients to the skin — this is why habitual smokers often develop poor complexions.  

Is there anything else that can speed up the development of wrinkles and fine lines?  

  • Frequent alcohol use 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Pollution 
  • Bad skincare habits (for example, not washing makeup off)
  • Genetics 

Thermage at GraceMed:

As you can see, Thermage brings a lot of benefits to the table. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that requires no downtime. Patients can finish their appointment and go about their normal activities. The potential side effects are mild and temporary. And it’s available to patients of every skin type and tone! 

So, if you’re interested in smoothing out your wrinkles, you should look at our GraceMed clinic locations and book a consultation for Thermage. You can try the treatment and watch your skin improve in the months after. 


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