Before and After Nonsurgical Face-Lift

For those who wish to get a younger-looking face without going under the knife, a new procedure called thermage is gaining momentum.

Good Morning America examined the relatively new cosmetic procedure as part of the Healthy Woman series "Fountain of Truth" in November 2003. As promised, GMA brought back 52-year-old Kathleen Kornblatt, the woman who received Thermage treatment live on the show from Dr. Michelle Copeland's New York office.

Today Kornblatt showed off the results of the procedure, which actually take three to six months to appear.

"I'm glad I did it," Kornblatt said. "I can't really pull anything anymore like I used to. If you do this and catch it early, maybe you'll never need a facelift," she said.

Thermage seemingly turns back time, according to some patients who have undergone the procedure. It involves no cutting, no anesthesia and no extra time for healing, but only a handful of doctors in New York currently perform the procedure, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May.

The device uses radio frequency energy to tighten and lift the skin. It is performed using an advanced radio frequency device called "ThermaCool TC." Although it was initially used only on the face, that is no longer the case.

Dr. Martin Safko, a Las Vegas dermatologist, has also been using Thermage on other areas. He uses the procedure to tighten loose skin on his patients' arms, abdomens and thighs.

"The procedure works particularly well in areas where traditional surgery leaves unsightly scars," Safko said. Patients in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who despite exercise, are predisposed to sagging skin on their upper arms, have been delighted with the results of the procedure.

One unexpected benefit has been seen in patients who have Thermage around their mouths, Safko said.

"It's been plumping up their lips and giving them a more youthful look" he said.

Kornblatt said she chose Thermage over a traditional surgical face-lift because of cost and recovery time concerns.

"It doesn't involve any downtime," Kornblatt said. "It's not like I'll be all black and blue and not able to go out for months until it heals. I also believe that this face-lift is cheaper than the ones that involve surgery."

The device uses the heat and energy of radio waves, which pass through the skin and build collagen. In the process, some sagging is lifted and some wrinkles are removed.

There is some pain involved during the actual procedure, so patients are treated with a numbing cream on the skin prior to Thermage.

Copeland, author of Change Your Looks, Change Your Life, says the procedure seems to produce the best results on candidates with fair skin and some wrinkles and sagging. Meanwhile, people with a lot of sagging won't see results as extreme.

"While they will see an improvement, they won't get as much of an improvement as with the more traditional kind of procedures," Copeland said. "Still, even for someone like that, if they don't want any downtime, this will give them a lift."

Copeland says the cost varies based on the where the procedure is performed.

If it's just the forehead, it will cost less than the entire face. Generally, the nonsurgical face-lift costs patients between $1,800 and several thousand dollars. The results last about 18 months.

Copeland said those who are interested in Thermage should understand that it's not a magical process.

"It is one option that is open to women who want to get rid of wrinkles and lines," Copeland said. "It's also fair to say that some who undergo the treatment see a big difference and others don't. Also, some people really do need a surgical face-lift because they have a lot more lifting to be done than just be achieved through Thermage."

To find out more about Thermage and Dr. Michelle Copeland, you can go to http://www.drcopeland.com/ or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' Web site: http://www.plasticsurgery.org. To learn more about Thermage and Dr. Martin Safko, go to www.southwestdermatology.com.

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