Non-surgical face-lifts have gained popularity over the last few years. Thermage, one of the latest procedures to be approved by the FDA, turns back time according to some patients who have undergone the procedure in an effort to achieve a more youthful look.
Good Morning America examined the relatively new procedure as part of the Healthy Woman series "Fountain of Truth."
The procedure 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 FDA 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."
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.
The full benefits take three to six months to appear. However, unlike surgery, it's not so obvious that you've had work done.
There is some pain involved during the actual procedure, so patients are treated with a numbing cream on the skin prior to treatment.
New York City cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle 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 performed the Thermage procedure on 52-year-old Kathleen Kornblatt during the Good Morning America broadcast today, from Copeland's New York office.
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," she said.
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 non-surgical 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."
When Copeland finished with the Thermage procedure on the right left side of Kornblatt's face, the mother from New Jersey said she did feel a difference when she touched that side of her face with her hand.
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