Radiofrequency (Thermage, Pellevé, Reaction) and Ultrasound (Ulthera)

This type of treatment, applied to the surface of the skin, aims to give a “lifting effect”. It causes the skin to contract (frequently used for the chin and neck) and gives the skin back its tonicity by stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis in the treated tissue. These two procedures do not leave any marks on the face, and the person being treated leaves the surgery looking more beautiful than when they entered. The results continue to improve over a period of 3 months, and the effect lasts for 1-2 years.

Mode of operation of Radiofrequency and Ultrasound

It is based on the use of heat. Our skin contains collagen and elastin fibres. These fibres develop extensively to form a network of fibres, ensuring the preservation of the different structures that make up our face: muscles, fat and tissue are therefore linked and supported.

This network is called the “supporting tissue”. When we are young, its strength gives our face a dynamic and solid appearance. Over time, these fibres relax and give our face a relaxed look.
Studies and research have shown that collagen and elastin fibres contract under the effect of heat between 42° and 55° Celsius (above this temperature the tissue will be burned). The effect obtained is skin which is less relaxed, firmer and therefore “lifted”.

To visualise this procedure, it can be compared to the wool fibres of a jumper: when you wash a jumper in hot water the effect of the heat causes the wool fibres to contract. When you put the jumper on after having washed it, it is tighter and fits the shape of the body better. Of course, through wearing the jumper the fibres become relaxed again…

This is comparable to what happens when precise heat is applied to the collagen and elastin fibres contained in our skin and in the supporting tissue of the facial muscles and fat. Of course, here too, with time and facial movements, these fibres will relax.

How is this lifting effect obtained?

The heat of radiofrequency and ultrasound cause two reactions in the treated area:

– An immediate effect

When the collagen and elastin fibres are subject to this temperature they contract instantly. This contraction is visible to the naked eye. It is also easy to see it over the course of the treatment by simply comparing the treated half of the face with the non-treated half.

At the end of the session, the skin is immediately firmer and looks “tight again”. In fact, the treated skin is retracted, and therefore less relaxed, giving this tightening effect.

– A long-term effect

This immediate reaction is followed by a second reaction which happens after a few weeks. When the body receives the information that the collagen and elastin fibres of the treated skin have contracted, it interprets this as a local stress. Our body’s response to this local “stress” is to trigger a “repair”, that is, to renew all the collagen and elastin fibres of the treated skin.

This renewal takes around 2-3 months, and the aesthetic result is an improvement in the quality of the skin which looks stronger, smoother and more elastic.

In summary, we can say that:
The immediate contraction gives a “quantitative” result which can be measured in millimetres. This may seem small, however it is significant because it leads to better facial tone (and therefore less relaxation).

Renewal of skin fibres in 2-3 months gives a “qualitative” improvement of the treated skin, which results in fresher-looking skin and therefore a fresher-looking face as a whole.

What are the differences between radiofrequency and ultrasound

Radiofrequency

Radiofrequency “heats” the collagen and elastin fibres of the skin and its supporting tissue to 42°C. The radiofrequency equipment used by Dr Gauthier makes it possible to choose different levels of depth depending on the problem to be treated.
At this temperature, the fibres are not damaged, they contract. This is a gentle action. As it is a gentle treatment, it is often necessary to have 2-3 sessions to obtain an optimum result. The sessions can take place once every 2-6 weeks.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound heats much more, to 55°C, and targets micro-impact points. The doctor targets these impact points depending on the problem to be treated and the tissues affected by sagging (number of points, direction and depth).
At this temperature, the fibres are damaged at the impact points. This damage sends a very strong message for the repair of fibres in the treated area. As this message is much stronger than the one sent during radiofrequency, treatment using ultrasound is only carried out once (it is not necessary to repeat the treatment three times, as with radiofrequency).

Which treatment to choose between radiofrequency and ultrasound

This all depends on the skin, the area to be treated and the desired effect. An experienced doctor will be able to choose the correct procedure in accordance with the patient’s request and the nature of the problem.
It is important to know that these two treatments can be combined in order to obtain the greatest possible tightening effect.

The risks of ultrasound and radiofrequency

There is always a risk of burning from the heat. This is a small burn beneath the skin which takes 1-2 days to come to the surface and which takes several weeks to disappear completely in most cases.
At the moment, the best machines on the market reduce this risk to a minimum by cooling the treated area at the same time.
The only real risk is disappointment in the case of skin which has sagged too much. In fact, the skin always contracts, but sometimes this is not enough to give a satisfactory effect. This is why it is important for the doctor to advise suitable treatment and tell you whether he/she thinks you are an appropriate case or not.

Cost of the radiofrequency and ultrasound session

The cost will be calculated according to the material used, the size of the area to be treated in order to obtain the desired result and the time needed (one session lasts from 1 to 2.5 hours).

Questions to consider before undergoing a cosmetic procedure: click here

Frequently asked questions

01 - Are radiofrequency and ultrasound painful?

Radiofrequency is not painful, but there are some uncomfortable elements, such as a very hot tingling sensation in the area where doctor directs the impulse. This slight tingling sensation lasts a quarter of a second, or rather, the impulse time.

Ultrasound, which sends a more intense heat, can be painful in places where the skin is fine, and the doctor often suggests a small amount of anaesthetic in these areas so that the patient doesn’t feel anything.

02 - Will there be a mark left at the end of the session?

There are no marks. The skin will seem firmer straightaway and the contours of the face will look clearer. The “lifting” effect will already be visible, but you will quickly become accustomed to it.
It is important to take photographs before the session in order to see the results, particularly after 3 months, because the skin will continue to work and improve after the session.

03 - How long will the effect last?

The improvement in the skin’s appearance and the firming effect will last for 1-2 years (because nothing stops the skin from ageing…).
Of course, if there are considerable changes in weight, the tissue will sag quicker.
It is advantageous to maintain the results and to repeat these treatments approximately every year and a half.

04 - What is the difference between radiofrequency, ultrasound and a facelift?

Facelifts “remove and pull” the skin. The surgeon cuts a significant amount of the skin, around 4-5 centimetres each side (depending on the need). Then the remaining skins is pulled one way, hence why it is called a facelift, which is most often towards the ear. 

However, lifting does not have any effect on the quality of the remaining skin. Of course, surgery permanently removes a considerable amount of skin, but it does nothing to change the texture of the remaining skin. The skin is relaxed and tired after having a facelift! For that matter, if the traction on this tired skin is too great, strange and ugly traction folds form on the face, revealing that the person has had a facelift…
Radiofrequency and ultrasound “contract and improve” the skin. These heat treatments contract the skin fibres and supporting tissue, everywhere the treatment is applied, without ever moving or pulling the skin like in a facelift. The contraction obtained is measured in millimetres, reducing the sagging appearance of the skin, but is not comparable to the centimetres removed during a facelift. On the other hand, the benefit of these heat treatments is that they improve the skin quality, making it firmer and more toned in all the treated areas. People talk about the “lifting effect” caused by this reduction in skin sagging but, in reality, the skin is contracting, and not being pulled, as it would be in a facelift.