Ultherapy Vs Thermage for Skin Tightening – Pros and Cons

thermage-vs-ultherapy-pros-and-consHave you had those days, when you look just a little bit closer in front of the mirror and find yourself face to face with aging? It seems like, out of nowhere, apparent signs of aging has etched their way into your skin. Then, this article is right for you.

In this article, I will be sharing the pros and cons of two of the most popular non-invasive skin tightening treatments available today – Thermage and Ultherapy- and see which treatment is right for you.


Usually when people mention Thermage, the first thing that comes to mind to those who have tried it is the painful sensation. It is quite sad though that a good treatment is overlooked because of the discomfort it creates. This is why manufacturers decided to correct this problem to ensure patient comfort and to further improve outcome.

How Thermage works?

Thermage is an FDA approved skin tightening treatment that utilizes radio-frequency energy to tighten, smoothen, and contour the skin to create an overall younger appearance. With thermage, the tip of the handpiece is directed on the skin above the area that is to be treated. A brief cooling sensation will be felt first followed by a heating sensation. It then heats the layer that is underneath it stimulating the production and regeneration of collagen. When this happens, the skin and its layers are stimulated to become firmer, smoother and tighter.

However, advancements in the technology gave rise to an improved machine that delivers better comfort to the patient. It provides uniformed heating and cooling at the same time. Aside from that, it also has different vibration levels that will distract the patient from the heat at the tip of the hand piece. But these vibrations can also be turned off when treating the area near the eyes.

The newly designed tips with Thermage CPT creates an even delivery of RF energy. It is also able to deliver more energy pulses, from 300 with the old machine to 900 with the new one.

Areas treated

Thermage can actually treat most body parts. It includes the eyes, lips, face, abdomen, arms, buttocks, hands and thighs. It can also be used as a temporary relief from cellulite.

Length of treatment

The average length of treatment with Thermage is around 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It varies depending on the size of the area being treated, its location, and the condition of the skin.

Number of treatments needed

Most patients would only need one treatment, while others may need more depending on the condition of their skin. The same goes for the result of the treatment as it varies based on the patient’s skin. The number of sessions will be determined by the surgeon during initial consultation and during his assessment as you go along.

Length of effectivity of results

The results of Thermage or Thermage CPT can take up to 6 months, sometimes longer. If you want to maintain the results, you can always go back to get it touched up. With touch up treatments, one can notice an improvement in the texture and firmness of the skin over time.


If you are looking for significant dramatic results you might find yourself disappointed. Thermage CPT non-surgical facelift means that the outcome may not look like the one you can get with surgical treatment. This is a more conservative approach as it does not involve manual manipulation of the structures. Therefore, this is only appropriate for those who are not showing severe signs of skin aging.


Ultherapy is the first treatment that uses a ultrasound technology to stimulate the collagen response. This technology is by the company Ulthera, and it is the only treatment that is FDA approved for both tightening and lifting, particularly on the muscles of the face and neck.
It is often compared to Thermage, being at the same ballpark when it comes to their approach to the anti-aging treatment of the skin with Ultherapy being a new treatment in the market dominated by the former. To see if it is indeed better than Thermage, let’s look at how it fares based on its specifics.

How Ultherapy works?

This technology targets the deep foundation of the skin that is also the area addressed by surgery. But in this case, it creates an improvement without any surgical intervention. It only employs ultrasound imaging, which allows the doctor to properly visualize the tissue that is targeted. An ultrasound gel will be applied on the skin surface before the device is placed over it. The doctor searches for the appropriate area before he delivers the ultrasound energy. This ensures that the treatment being released hits the exact spot where it will be most effective.

The ultrasound energy that is deposited below the skin suface stimulates the formation of new collagen. It is basically a reparation process which promotes a firmer and tighter skin from the inside out.

Areas treated

The areas that are targeted with Ultherapy include the brow line, face, the neck and the area underneath the chin. It treats mild to moderate sagging particularly the loose skin of the chin and neck, also called the “double chin” or “turkey gobbler”. In the face, it particularly improves the muscle fascia. This is the same structure that surgeons tighten when doing a surgical facelift.

Length of treatment

A full treatment of the face and neck can last around 60-90 minutes. A partial or brow lift treatment would take approximately 30 minutes.

Number of treatments needed

Most patients would need only one treatment. However, some would reap more benefits with more than one session, and this will be largely dependent on the extent of skin laxity. A patient’s biological response to the treatment will also be considered in determining the number of sessions.

Length of effectivity of results

The results will be more apparent in two to three months time after treatment. It can last up to 6 months and even more before some see the need for a touch up.


Just like Thermage, Ultherapy does not promise permanent results. It may create a deep action to tighten the skin, but it cannot give the same results as surgery. Patients may need to have repeated treatments to maintain its results, especially when their skin is severely damage by environmental factors, aggravating the natural course of aging. Manufacturers are still looking for ways to improve patient’s comfort and overall experience.

Ultherapy Vs Thermage – My Review

After the comparison presented, it can be said that the two treatment have a rather similar action. But, both vary, of course, on the method or energy used, its effectiveness, and also the level of comfort experienced by the patient.

The old Thermage may not have settled well with previous patients, but with the new Thermage CPT facelift action is improved along with the added comfort through its new technology. Ultherapy, on the other hand, also has its perks. As a “newbie” in the market, it’s actually doing quite well. It may still need improvements, but the results it provides so far has also impressed doctors and patients alike.

When compared to other skin tightening treatments, these two creates a convenient solution. They are both non-invasive and they don’t require significant downtime. There may be some minor redness immediately after treatment, but it doesn’t mean that you have to take time off from work to recuperate.

If your purpose is to create a dramatic change, both these treatment may not be advisable. Surgery involves the restructuring and stretching of both muscle and skin. Meanwhile non-invasive approaches only provides a more conservative action, but they are highly likely to come up with natural-looking outcome.

It is unfortunate though that these treatments may not be for everyone. Yes, as much as they are effective, these procedures are limited only to those who do not show severe signs of aging on their skin. The doctor will assess your condition and will determine if you will be an appropriate candidate. Surgery is advised to those with significant signs of aging.

If you compare the price of surgery to these non-invasive treatments, you might find that the cost for the latter may accumulate with repeated touch up treatments totally exceeding that of surgery. This is something that patients also have to consider. However it might be well worth it, especially if you want to avoid the risks and side effects of surgery.

Thermage CPT and Ultherapy have their own perks and limitations, and your choice depends on your anti-aging goals. There are other skin tightening treatments, but based on patient and doctor reviews, these two are cetainly strong contenders.

written by Kathy Lim

If you are interested in getting skin tightening treatment in Singapore, feel free to book a no-risk consultation with Dr. Tyng Tan to discuss treatments that are available for you. Call +65 6235 0010 or fill up the form here.

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Photo credit: tommerton2010 via Foter.com / CC BY

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