Clinical Innovation Patient Care

Thermi offers youthful appearance without surgery

Facial plastic surgeon Emily Spataro, MD, conducts a ThermiSmooth procedure on a patient.

For patients seeking a more youthful appearance, non- or minimally-invasive rejuvenation procedures are becoming more and more popular. Thermi® is one sought-after option offered by Emily Spataro, MD, John Chi, MD, and Gregory Branham, MD, in the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery within the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University.

Thermi® is radiofrequency (RF) technology that delivers controlled thermal energy to the skin’s collagen which stimulates skin tightening over time.

How does it work?

Radiofrequency thermal energy causes collagen fibers to shrink, yet stay cross-linked together, resulting in tighter skin. There is also evidence that when performed in the subcutaneous layer, there can be some reduction of adipose tissue as well. There are two versions of this therapy:

The Thermi ARVATI is a multi-modality system offering several Thermi RF procedures.
  • ThermiTight® is a minimally-invasive method that utilizes an injectable electrode to deliver radiofrequency in the subcutaneous layer of the skin.
  • ThermiSmooth® is a non-invasive procedure that uses a wand to deliver radiofrequency along the surface of the skin.

Is this a new procedure?

Radiofrequency technology has been around for several years, and there are many different devices on the market. Thermi® represents a newer model that offers increased effectiveness while minimizing recovery time, procedure time, and pain for the patient. It is popular with patients who want to avoid a larger surgical procedure with extensive downtime and general anesthesia.

Who can benefit?

Any patient who would like to pursue non- or minimally-invasive skin tightening is a candidate for this procedure. There are limitations to the amount of skin tightening that can be achieved with this method compared to a surgical procedure.

For example, ThermiSmooth® can be used over the course of several sessions around the eyelids to tighten skin in this region. This will help with fine lines and moderate levels of excess skin, but will not provide as dramatic a result as a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).

ThermiTight® can be used in the jaw/neck area to achieve a ‘non-surgical facelift’. We conservatively estimate a 30% skin tightening compared to facelift surgery, so this would be best for patients who only need a moderate amount of skin tightening. This is particularly helpful for younger patients or those who have had a previous facelift procedure and want a “touch up”.

How quickly can a patient expect results?

The results of this method are not immediate, compared to most surgical procedures. Skin tightening progresses gradually over time, with effects first seen about one month following ThermiTight® procedures.

ThermiSmooth® can provide some immediate skin tightening benefits, especially for fine lines around the mouth and eyes. It can be used to improve these areas prior to special social events. We usually recommend treatment about three days prior to the event.

What are the advantages?

The primary benefit of this approach is that skin tightening can be performed in the office, without general anesthesia or incisions, and with minimal downtime for the patient.  ThermiSmooth® requires no anesthesia. ThermiTight® requires numbing with local anesthesia at the site of treatment.  For this reason, there is a lower risk of complications with these procedures compared to surgery.

Thermi® works well in conjunction with other in-office procedures such as botox, fillers and skin resurfacing with peels or laser. It may not be effective for all patients, and results can vary.

To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call (314) 996-3880.