The Tech Behind Non-invasive Face Tightening


Patients often come in looking for ways to tighten the skin on their face. Most want it done through non surgical methods. Doctors can surgically create the tightening effect that patients want, but what can doctors do with new technologies? There are new ultra sound, light and RF procedures that have been growing in effectiveness and popularity. Dr Ross helps us take a look at some of these treatments and their benefits and drawbacks.

Reasons We Lose Tightness

Patients lose skin firmness through a variety of causes. Among the large list of reasons, a primary one is solar exposure. Sunlight breaks down the structure of our skin with long term exposure. Consequently we lose the elastic fibers that give our skin its youthful stiffness. Doctors can also note that as we age, we lose hyaluronic acid and fat that keep the skin looking firm.

What can doctors do to mitigate these processes? Dr Ross wants to “talk about devices that reestablish elastic tissue in the skin, and give us some of the stiffness that we lose from age twenty to sixty.”

The Technologies and Effect

Large Volume – Low Intensity

One of the earliest deep heating radio frequency techniques. Products like Thermage, Exilis, Forma and the like. Doctors used them to cool the epidermis and heat the upper dermis, the injury to lower layers created the skin tightening. Patient’s skin is heated from the inside out, with low fluence and multiple passes. Thermage and others are still an effective tool today, and doctors using it still see positive results. However Dr Ross cautions on these devices. “Some work well as far as making the patient feel better and temporarily looking better. Do they actually restore elastic tissue?

Superficial Band – High Intensity

These technologies range from traditional CO2 to plasma. Doctors use these procedures to ablate the skin to about 200 microns deep. Patients receiving these procedures can see testable and reproducible results. However, the devices don’t go very deep in the layers of the skin, so are limited. Skin can be tightened, helping against fine lines. Dr. Ross sees CO2 procedures created some real tightening via thermal coagulation of skin. These results appear to Dr. Ross to be demonstrably more effective than some earlier technologies, but again the results can be only temporary.

Cannula Based Lasers

For patients, these aren’t technically non invasive. When doctors have to put a cannula in the skin and heat from the inside out, it changes how patients perceive the procedure. Examples of this tech is ThermiRF. Doctors take a cannula under the skin, and monitor the external and internal temperatures in the skin. Patients skin is subjected to much higher heat levels, upwards to 60 degrees celsius. Dr. Ross believes that while the results are modest, the technology makes sense. In the future we can probably expect further strides in these technologies.


Doctors have many options when looking to tighten face skin for their patients. If traditional surgery isn’t optimal for the client, than the options above can provide modest results non-invasively. Learning all your options and knowing the products is the best guide to great patient outcomes.