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by Dr.Ying-Chin Wu

How are wrinkles formed? What is "Thermage"? And how does it contribute to younger look, tightened contour, and reduced wrinkles?   

Wrinkles and loss of tightness in the cheeks are some of the common things we see when we grow past our 30s, and besides making more extensive use of anti-aging solutions and serums, many people also turn their attention to cosmetic treatment. Thermage, a cosmetic treatment widely discussed in the media and recommended by celebrities, thus gained popularity among consumers in recent years. In fact, "Thermage" has long been a popular cosmetic treatment for several decades, and the underlying technology and equipment are still undergoing improvements even to this day. Its non-surgical process achieves natural-looking results and requires virtually no time to recover, thereby allowing patients to go through their skincare routines and apply makeup right after the treatment. These are the reason that make Thermage one of the most highly requested treatments to date. So how does Thermage work its magic to restore youth and firmness to the skin?   

The science behind "Thermage"

Collagen is the substance that supports our skin tissues and gives it the plump texture; and as we age, we lose collagen at an increasing rate. Other factors such as stress, lifestyle, UV ray, air pollution etc. may all accelerate this process, giving us wrinkles beneath the eyes, more visible nasolabial folds, saggy cheeks, and saggy chin.

So how does Thermage make us look younger? The technology uses a patented precision probe that emits high-frequency radio waves, and when pressed against the skin, it generates heat to stimulate contraction, rebuild, and growth of aged collagen. Many people confuse "Ultherapy" with "Thermage." Although they are both non-invasive anti-aging treatments, Thermage uses a probe to heat up the area of the skin that comes into contact, from the epidermis to the dermis to achieve the "tightening" effect; Ultherapy, on the other hand, uses high power ultrasound wave that penetrates all the way through the dermis to "spot heat" the SMAS layer at a greater depth. Both processes stimulate contraction and growth of collagen to achieve the desired "lifting" effect, and simply put, Ultherapy works at the bottom layer of the skin, whereas Thermage works on a large patch of the skin at a time.  

 

Solution for wrinkles beneath the eyes and around the neck

People who finish their Thermage treatment will feel their faces tighten, their pores smoothen, and see facial contours sharpen with wrinkles lighten as collagen grows to support sagging skin tissues. Depending on individual body conditions, the effect lasts anytime from one to two years, but may differ due to personal skincare routine, lifestyle, and diet. Thermage equipment can be used with a variety of probes specially designed for the face, the eyes, and the body, which therefore makes the technology applicable for small wrinkles such as those around the eyes and neck as well as saggy thigh, bottom and stretch marks. Despite the many advantages, Thermage may not be suitable for all, because everyone has different tolerance to heat, and many people struggle to endure the pain on their first try. Furthermore, like all cosmetic treatments, the procedures may proceed only after professional evaluation by a medical specialist, and those who have heart disease or pacemaker should not undergo Thermage. The high price tag, too, is another reason that deters those with limited budget.  

Peptide-based formula for plumpness and tightening effects similar to Thermage 

Because Thermage works primarily by stimulating growth of collagen in the skin through heat, people who have little tolerance to pain or limited budget may opt for anti-aging serums with highly concentrated and high efficacy ingredients as a viable alternative. Amongst the many popular anti-aging ingredients, "peptide" is a budget-friendly way to stimulate collagen growth similarly to Thermage, and it improves wrinkles and aged skin without the discomfort or pain. 

 

A peptide is a short chain of amino acids; two amino acids make up a dipeptide, three amino acids make up a tripeptide, and so on and so forth. Because of their smaller molecular size, peptides have higher skin-affinity and are easy to absorb, which makes them useful for replenishing collagen loss in target areas. They are especially effective at smoothing wrinkles, lifting skin, tightening, and restoring plumpness when used in skincare solutions, and are commonly found in premium anti-aging products as well as clinical anti-aging solutions. 

Which peptide serums to choose and comparison of different peptides

So how should consumers choose peptide-based anti-aging serums? First of all, there are 20 types of amino acids, and combining them in varying proportions yields peptides that achieve different anti-aging effects. Some peptides promote formation of collagen and elastin similarly to Thermage; some peptides disrupt transmission of neural signals and in doing so lightens expression wrinkles from muscle contraction; and some peptides have a larger molecular size that allows them to fight free radicals at the epidermis. Peptides commonly used in skincare products can be briefly distinguished into the following categories: 

  • Dipeptide: helps relax facial contour and prevent formation of muscle-controlled wrinkles
  • Tripeptide and tetrapeptide: strengthens collagen structure and enhances the skin's resistance to wrinkles
  • Pentapeptide and hexapeptide: promotes collagen growth deep within the skin to increase firmness
  • Octapeptide and nonapeptide: effective at smoothing wrinkles and restoring firmness, plumpness and smoothness to the skin

 

Peptides with longer chain of amino acids do not necessarily achieve better effect; in fact, peptides with shorter amino acid profile can more easily penetrate skin to deliver the desired effect, which is why using a combination of different peptides ensures delivery of the desired effects across different depths. For example, dipeptide, tripeptide, tetrapeptide, pentapeptide and hexapeptide are capable of forming collagen fibers and are designed to work at the fibroblast level; meanwhile, larger peptides such as heptapeptide and nonapeptide are intended to fight free radicals and it is appropriate for them to work at the epidermis layer. Because one peptide only targets one aspect of aging, combining multiple peptides yields the optimal result.

Combining peptides with rare plant extracts for total anti-aging effect

Loss of moisture or reparative property may also cause the skin to look old, and this is when high potency plant extracts, such as gentiana venusta from the Himalayas, dwarf soapworts from Swiss glacial islands, and red algae from France, are useful at awakening the skin's innate regenerative properties, as these plants have all evolved to develop strong resilience under constant exposure to extreme environments. Persistent use of anti-aging serums that are rich in the peptides and rare plant extracts described above not only provides comprehensive anti-aging effects, but also delivers significant improvements on all aspects. Even for consumers who undergo Thermage treatment, it is highly recommended to apply anti-aging solutions that are rich in peptides and rare plant extracts as part of the daily skincare routine, as they have been shown to prolong the results of the treatment. 

For the reasons explained above, both peptide complex and rare plant extracts are needed to improve skin appearance and stimulate skin regeneration at the root. Together, they make up the essential elements of anti-aging, and one can’t work without the other.

台灣醫學美容教父 - 吳英俊 教授

Profile

  • 台大醫院皮膚科臨床教授
  • 英爵聯合診所院長
  • DR.WU品牌創始人
  • 法國國家醫學研究中心研究員
  • 台灣皮膚科醫學會理事長
  • 皮膚科學發展基金會董事長
  • 醫用雷射學會常務理事

 

 

 

 

 

Skills

  • 皮膚免疫學(異位性皮膚炎)
  • 雷射治療(色素斑、痘疤、回春)
  • 注射美容(肉毒桿菌素、玻尿酸注射)
  • 醫學美容(美白微雕導入)

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