Wrinkles, sagging and pigmentation of one’s skin are signs of premature ageing. Due to this, skin tightening is a popular cosmetic procedure to improve one’s appearance. However, while surgery has long been able to restore a youthful appearance, many prefer non-surgical face lifting and skin tightening treatment because it provides immediate results with minimal or no downtime.
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Dr. Teo Wan Lin is an accredited dermatologist and an expert on cosmeceutical skincare research and development. She is the author of “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare” which was published July 2019 by leading bookstores Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor and Apple Books and available in bookstores islandwide from January 2020. She heads up Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, a specialist cosmeceutical skincare line with evidence-based active ingredients for anti-ageing and skin health. Its subsidiaries, the Pi- Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab and the Conscious Mask Bar are part of the Conscious Concept Pharmacy launched in December featuring environmentally sustainable makeup and skincare materials. In this series “Dermatologist Talks” she shares her top tips on common skincare topics. In this article, she talks about non-surgical skin tightening treatments.
What are the alternatives to surgical skin-tightening?
1. Non-invasive skin tightening procedures
Unlike surgical skin-tightening, patients will not incur puncture wounds, incisions or raw skin after the procedure. Temporary redness and swelling, would usually be the only side effects of the procedure. When performed by a board-certified dermatologist, little risk of other side effects is involved. This procedure can be performed on almost any part of your body and the results of the procedure tend to appear gradually. Regarding the details of the procedures, a session takes approximately 1 hour or less. Some patients may face some discomfort during the procedure.
Common procedures include:
Heat produced by ultrasound treatments can stimulate collagen production. After one session, most people see modest lifting and tightening within 2 to 6 months. You may get more benefit from having multiple treatments.
A device is used against your skin to heat the tissue beneath. Most patients feel an immediate effect after the first session. Collagen production in the body takes time, the best results show in about 6 months. Some people benefit from having more than 1 treatment. The results from radiofrequency treatments can last 2-3 years when accompanied with appropriate skin care.
Certain lasers allow heat to penetrate into the skin without damaging the top layer of the skin. These lasers are utilised for skin-tightening treatments all over the body and can be especially helpful for tightening loose skin on the belly and upper arms. 3 to 5 treatments may be needed to get results, which gradually appear between 2 and 6 months after the last treatment.
2. Minimally invasive skin tightening procedures.
Although they are unable to give you the results of a surgical procedure like a facelift, these procedures result in more evident changes than non-invasive procedures. They require less downtime than surgery while carrying less risk of side effects. Patients will be sedated during this type of procedure and will have a few days of downtime.
A thin tube (or needles) is inserted into the skin which provides heat to tighten loose skin at a precise location. This procedure is often used to tighten the skin at the neck or upper arms. Results are noticeable in a month. In some research studies, patients see gradual tightening and lifting for close to 1 year. After the procedure, you’ll need someone to drive you home and you may need to wear a compression garment for 4 or 5 days. You’ll also need to care for the wound.
This is the most effective procedure for tightening loose skin. Unlike the laser treatment, this procedure requires some downtime. You’ll need to stay home for 5 to 7 days. Laser resurfacing gives you the fastest results. After you heal, your skin will appear tighter with less wrinkles within 2 weeks. Laser resurfacing can effectively tighten skin, usually showing more prominent results than any other skin-tightening procedure. Laser resurfacing diminishes fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots on the skin, such as age spots. The tradeoff is that it requires downtime and has a greater risk of possible side effects, such as scarring.
Do skin-firming creams and lotions work?
Despite their promising claims, face-lift like results from a mere jar are highly unlikely. The result, if any, you see from a skin-firming cream will be subtle. These products tend to be good moisturisers at best resulting in plump skin and less noticeable fine lines and wrinkles. This result is temporary. To continue seeing any benefit, you need to apply the product every day. Dermatologists dispute the claim that a cream or lotion can lift sagging skin as these products are unable to penetrate the skin deeply enough to do this. Still, a small change may occur if the product contains a retinoid, such as retinol, which stimulates collagen production.
Who should avoid skin-tightening procedures?
Skin-tightening procedures should not be done on pregnant individuals, those with skin infections or patients with certain medications.