Skin Tightening

Non-ablative Skin Tightening- The New Non-surgical Facelift

Everyone over 40, and many in their 20’s and 30’s, see facial and eyelid aging changes in their skin that they would like to reverse. But very few people are willing to consider plastic surgery such as a facelift or blepharoplasty. Almost everyone who comes into my plastic surgery office tells me they want to look younger but they do not want a face lift.

The Skin Tightening Technology

The recent development of non-surgical skin tightening technology is truly a remarkable technological achievement. These machines can actually tighten skin. There are several machines on the market including the LuxIR® which I use, and the Titan®, Refirme®, and Thermage®.

The new skin tightening technique is called non-ablative skin tightening to distinguish the new skin tightening technology from CO2 laser resurfacing, which is the gold standard for facial rejuvenation and skin tightening.

The CO2 laser resurfacing is an ablative skin tightening procedure. To ablate means to surgically remove, and the CO2 laser resurfacing ablates or removes old damaged skin in the skin tightening process, thus after CO2 laser resurfacing the face is red and must heal with a 2-3 week recovery period.

The new non-ablative skin tightening machines do not ablate the skin, thus they are a no down time skin tightening treatment.

The newer skin tightening technology uses radiofrequency energy or infrared energy to heat the deep layers of the skin to cause remodeling of the deep collagen which causes contraction and tightening of the skin. Sophisticated skin cooling prevents skin injury and ablation.

Your Skin Tightening Treatment

Skin tightening treatments take about 25 minutes. A soothing gel is applied to your skin and protective glasses are placed over your eyes by my aesthetician who does the actual treatment.

I use a numbing cream to make you more comfortable during the procedure. The machine head is placed firmly against your skin and a 6 second pulse is applied to each area of the face and neck. Towards the end of the 6 seconds you will feel a hot sensation in the area.

After skin tightening you face may be pink but this goes away quickly and you may return to work.


All of the skin tightening machines on the market achieve similar results when used properly. Generally there is less discomfort with the Infrared skin tightening machines like the Lux IR®. Complications have been minimal although some serious skin tightening complications occurred with Thermage® skin tightening early on.

In my practice I find that non-ablative skin tightening is most helpful for younger patients who do not have severe aging changes and significant sun damage, people in their 30’s and 40’s who want to correct or tighten early skin sagging along the jaw line or jowl area, neck and cheeks. I use the LuxIR on these larger areas. For skin tightening around the eyelids I use the Aluma which has a smaller treatment head and a suction device that will pull the delicate peri-ocular skin into the treatment chamber for skin tightening. My aestheticians do the procedure.

The field of non-ablative skin tightening is in its infancy and will definitely become more effective in the years ahead. The companies are improving their products frequently.

The use of the term non-surgical facelift to describe non-ablative skin tightening is an overstatement with technology available for skin tightening today. At best a 30% result is possible when compared to a traditional face lift.

However non-ablative skin tightening does work, does improve wrinkles as well as tighten skin, and is an excellent alternative for people who have early facial laxity, want to prevent further aging changes and do not want surgery.

To learn more read about non-ablative skin tightening and non-surgical facial rejuvenation read about this technology in detail in my book Save Your Face.

I look forward to meeting you.

Dr Seckel

Boston, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts

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