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Face-lift Without Surgery

A facelift without surgery? Thermage is the latest beauty weapon in the fight against time, promising to tighten your skin, contour your features and more.

Singapore December 2, 2004 -- Thermage is the latest buzz word among the rich and famous today. Basically, it is a non-invasive treatment touted to deliver tighter skin, renewed the facial contours and healthier collagen. (Collagen is the building block that provides structure to your skin) In short, this is what many women have been praying for all their lives - face-lifting benefits without going under the knife.

Approved by the FDA late last year, Thermage uses heat from a radio frequency device to tighten or lift the skin. Its probably the most talked about procedure on the market. It's been written about in fashion magazines like Vogue and Allure. Women are learning about tighter skin without the surgery. That's how 40 year old Lisa Lok heard about it. "Every time I looked at a photograph, I didn't like what I saw." Lisa didn't like her sagging jawline. "I'm vain, but I won't go under general anesthesia just for the sake of vanity. But Thermage, this is definitely something I would consider"

Doctors use a device that uniformly heats a large volume of collagen in the deeper layers of the skin while simultaneously protecting the outer layer of the skin with a cooling spray. This deep uniform heating action causes deep structures in your skin to immediately tighten. In time, the skin's natural collagen contracts. But results are not immediate and it may take weeks or months before patients notice a change.

"It would probably be used best in people who are in their 30s, or 40s and 50s who have photoaging, wrinkled, or saggy skin." Says Dr Low Chai Ling of The Sloane Clinic in Singapore. It is excellent for skin tightening and reducing the lines of the face but it will never be the same as a surgical face-lift. However, patients with realistic expectations are usually happy with what Thermage can deliver.

Many patients are undaunted by the limited potential of such a treatment and has readily hopped onto the Thermage bandwagon for its promise of regaining some youth. Malaysian businesswoman Mdm Lee Siew Choo, recently decided to undergo Thermage at The Sloane Clinic, which only takes a couple of hours, to get rid of some of the lines in her forehead and around her eyes.

Siew Choo is 45 and, like a lot of us, she wasn't totally happy with her look. "Basically, I just wanted to look better, I think I started to look old and tired and more my-age, if you know what I mean. And I wasnt happy with looking my age."

No anesthesia is used. Instead, a numbing cream is applied to the areas worked on. But Siew Choo still found that it wasn't a totally pain-free experience.

Apart for the initial discomfort, I settled quite comfortably into the treatment after a while. It's like a burning and pinching sensation. It is definitely not painless but I wouldnt say it is unbearable.

Even then, she is optimistic and pleased with her results.
I wasnt looking for the kind of effect plastic surgery would give me anyway. That would have been too artificial for my liking! The effect of Thermage is just what I was hoping for - skin tightening, facial firming and reduction of lines on my face. I would say it probably took 5 years off my face.

When asked to list the differences one session of Thermage did to her face, Siew Choo commented my eyes are less droopy looking, the skin on my neck is definitely tighter, my entire face looks less saggy.

Siew Choo probably won't see the full benefits for at least six months. But judging from her enthusiastic feedback, she has been completely sold onto the idea of hanging on to her youth without going under the knife for now.

Thermage costs around US$2,000-4,000 and lasts from six months to two years. Traditional facelift surgery costs between US$7,000-15,000 and lasts five to ten years. Also, with a facelift, the recuperation time is at least two weeks while Siew Choo, for instance, returned to work the same day she had her procedure.

Experts say the best way to retain a youthful appearance is simply to avoid the sun, quit smoking and adopt a moderate and healthy lifestyle. But for those of us with the cash to spare, Thermage is the next big thing for regaining a bit of our lost youth. The skeptics among us may say that natural beauty is true beauty, but this is as close to a natural face-lift as it gets.

Dr. Low Chai Ling is an aesthetic physician at The Sloane Clinic, 30 Raffles Place, #03-01 Caltex House Singapore. You can contact her at 65-65332522 or

The information in this article is made available for information purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Also, the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information is not guaranteed. The author does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional.

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A facelift is a surgical procedure to repair sagging, drooping, and wrinkled skin of the face and neck. It is performed to improve visible signs of aging, poor diet, or heredity; it is performed by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping facial and neck skin.


Sagging or wrinkled skin occurs naturally with increasing age. Folds and fat deposits appear around the neck, and deep flexion creases form between the nose and mouth. The jawline grows "jowly" and slack. Heredity, poor diet, smoking, or obesity may contribute to early or severe skin problems.

A facelift can help repair some of the visible damage to skin, fat, and muscles and can restore a "younger" look. A facelift can be done alone or with nose reshaping, a forehead lift, or eyelid surgery.

While the patient is sleepy (sedated) and pain-free (local anesthesia) or deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), the plastic surgeon makes incisions above the hairline at the temples, behind the earlobe, to the lower scalp.

The surgeon removes some of the fat tissue and loose skin, then stitches (sutures) the incisions closed. The fat tissue is called the SMAS layer and is the primary lifting portion of the facelift.