Laser and Non Surgical Skin Tightening for Sagging Skin-How Well Does It Work


Many people are concerned about sagging skin. Whether sagging skin has been caused by aging, weight-loss, pregnancy, or following gastric by-pass surgery, loose sagging skin is annoying to those who have it. On the face, after aging or weight-loss, the cheeks, jaw line, and neck can sag creating nasal labial fold lines, jowls, and the “turkey neck”. After pregnancy the skin of the tummy sags and occasionally the breasts sag, conditions which are very distressing to young, fit women who are usually in their late 20’s or early 30’s. After significant weight loss sagging skin also occurs in the arms, buttocks, hips and waist, and even the back.

Plastic surgical operations including the Facelift, Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift are still the most effective ways to tighten the sagging face, the sagging breasts, and sagging tummy skin. 

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Above: Face lift; Below: Breast lift and implant

Breast Lift Before and After

Below: Tummy Tuck-Bikini Tuck and Removal C-section scar

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However recently new non-surgical skin tightening machines have been introduced to tighten sagging skin. Laser skin tightening was first introduced in 1995 and is very effective only on the face (See Photo Below). The CO2 laser resurfacing technique is excellent for tightening facial skin and removing wrinkles, but the procedure leaves the face raw for 10-12 days and pink for one to three months. In addition, complications such as hypo pigmentation, loss of skin color have limited the acceptance of the CO2 laser resurfacing technique.

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Above: Before and After CO2 Laser Resurfacing

During the past 3-4 years new Non ablative skin tightening technologies have been developed that do not leave the skin raw and thus require no down time or recovery. These machines use infrared or radiofrequency energy to heat the deep layers of the skin and tighten the collagen and thus tighten the skin. These methods, LuxIR® Deep, Thermage®, Titan®, and Refirme® do work, but are not nearly as effective as CO2 laser resurfacing or the face lift. Usually 20-30% tightening of the skin is seen and, while visible in before-and-after photos, is not nearly as striking as seen after a face lift or tummy tuck. I use the LuxIR Deep® in my practice because it is equally effective as the other machines, but is much less painful. These skin tightening machines are used on the face, abdomen, arms, and buttocks and thighs, but have not been used successfully on the breasts. (See Photo Below-Courtesy Palomar and Dr. Kenneth Rothaus)

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Above: Before and After LuxIR Deep Skin Tightening Jawline and Neck

Below: Before and After LuxIR Deep Skin Tightening Abdomen

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Most recently new fractional laser resurfacing machines have been developed to produce the benefits of laser resurfacing without the difficult and prolonged recovery seen with CO2 laser resurfacing. The laser beam is fractionated, or broken up into many tiny beams, so that when it hits the skin skip areas are left with intact skin so healing is much faster: 4-6 days as opposed to 2-3 weeks with the older CO2 techniques. Skin tightening does occur, but at present much less tightening is seen than with the older CO2 lasers. I use the new 2940 fractional ablative laser to remove wrinkles and tighten skin, but the tightening is not as dramatic as that seen with the older CO2 laser resurfacing. At present this technique is limited to the face and neck.eyes-and-mouth.JPG

Above: Before and After Lux2940 Treatment Around Eyes and Upper Lip

While the new skin tightening technology is exciting, the results are not as dramatic as those achieved with plastic surgery. If you need a face lift, breast lift, or tummy tuck, have it done by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon. If you just do not want surgery, have fairly healthy skin and are younger with thicker skin, and will be happy with 20-30% tightening, then you may be happy with non-ablative skin tightening.

Undoubtedly the new non-ablative skin tightening machines will be improved in the years to come and results will be more dramatic. I am working with combinations of different technologies to improve results.

For more information on skin tightening, non-surgical facial rejuvenation and plastic surgery, read Save Your Face or call 978-369-4499. Be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter which is published monthly.

DR. Seckel

978-369-4499

Concord, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts


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