Feeling down in the mouth and in need of a lift? We chat with DR SHIRLEY KWEE, aesthetic doctor and medical director at Cambridge Medical Group, about three non-surgical facelifts to tighten sagging skin, help create a V-shaped face if desired, and take years off your face: Ultherapy, Thermage and Profhilo.
I’m lucky enough to have had many opportunities to review beauty products and treatments as a beauty editor. For going on 18 years, I’ve been trying the latest and greatest skin procedures. Why would I say no? – especially if they’re noninvasive, or at least only minimally invasive.
Is there a risk with these non-surgical facelifts? Well, there’s generally some risk involved in almost any worthwhile endeavour. After all, these people are wielding lasers and needles! But when you choose a highly experienced and skilled doctor, the risk is minuscule. In nearly two decades, I’ve never regretted undergoing a procedure.
Unless you’re extraordinarily genetically blessed, sagging skin and incipient jowls may start to set in from your forties or earlier. The cause? – decreasing skin elasticity and the inevitable loss of facial volume. That’s true no matter how carefully you’ve protected your complexion from solar damage and eaten your veggies. (I’ve done both, pretty religiously – though I draw the line at kale.)
“Ageing is often associated with sagging skin,” says Dr Shirley Kwee, “but that doesn’t have to be the case.” She offers various treatments that can effectively tighten lax skin by encouraging the natural formation of both collagen and elastin. Three of the most popular are Ultherapy, Thermage and Profhilo.
In your experience, which of these three – Ultherapy, Thermage and Profhilo – is most effective?
I don’t believe there is any such thing as the “most effective” treatment, but rather one that would best treat your skin condition and deliver the results you desire. In fact, because everyone’s skin condition is so different, I’m a firm believer in ultra-personalised treatment plans and finding the right combination of treatments for optimal results.
All three procedures are recommended for those looking for minimally invasive alternatives with little to no downtime. You can return to your daily activities right after.
The best way to determine which treatment is best for you is to start with a very thorough consultation and assessment. This way, we can understand your current skin condition, your concerns, and what would help you achieve your intended results.
Who tends to choose Ultherapy?
Ultherapy is a non-invasive face-lift and medical-grade treatment that helps tighten the skin too, promoting a V-shaped face and a younger appearance. It uses micro-focused ultrasound energy that targets different depths of the skin to stimulate collagen production.
Though there is no age limit, Ultherapy is most recommended for 30-to-50-year-olds with mild to moderate skin laxity. Since it uses ultrasound energy, it does not target melanin and is safe for all skin types.
You may see immediate improvements, which peak at three months due to the stimulation of natural collagen production. The effects continue for six to 12 months as new collagen fibres continue to form and mature. Ultherapy has been proven to effectively lift the mid-face and create a more defined jawline.
With these non-surgical facelifts have the option to do the full face, or just the upper or lower face. It can be targeted around the eyes, cheeks, jawline, neck, mouth and forehead; also the décolletage, the abdomen and the buttocks. Costs for Ultherapy start from around $1,800.
How does Thermage compare?
Similarly, Thermage is a non-invasive treatment that helps tighten and lift the skin for a more contoured and rejuvenated face, as well as treating visible lines. It has been around for about 20 years, and is still the go-to treatment for many.
It utilises radiofrequency energy to heat deeper layers of the dermis, contracting collagen proteins and stimulating further collagen production. At the same time, the tip of the Thermage handpiece vibrates and cools the skin’s surface to make it more comfortable. It’s for people with mild to moderate skin laxity, usually 30 to 60 years old. People with loose facial skin and fine lines will benefit the most. Some younger patients use it to maximise collagen production as a preventative measure.
You can opt to do only the face, or both face and neck. Or you could choose to target only the eyelid area, to improve eyelid droopiness. It’s also useful for treating abdominal skin laxity, for example after childbirth. Costs start from $2,000.
What about Profhilo?
Profhilo is a non-invasive skin-remodelling injectable treatment that can deeply hydrate and renew the skin, while reducing skin laxity. It’s often called an “injectable moisturiser”, and is made of ultrapure hyaluronic acid.
Injected in the right bio-aesthetic points, it can increase skin hydration for plumper skin with improved tone and texture. Commonly used to rejuvenate the face, it can also be used to treat the body and the neck.
As Profhilo is a bio-stimulator, results are best seen from two to six months, and include skin-tightening and lifting, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and increased luminosity. It’s also a good option for those who prefer an injectable to a machine-based treatment. We recommend two treatment sessions 30 days apart, followed by maintenance treatments if necessary. Costs start from $1,000.
Can they be combined with one another, or with fillers, wrinkle relaxers, laser or IPL?
Yes, I believe in setting up and following a comprehensive treatment plan to achieve the desired results. For example, a holistic anti-ageing treatment might combine Thermage with Profhilo; or Thermage and Ultherapy for an overall lifted and V-shaped face. For most patients, I will wait about six weeks for the result of Ultherapy or Thermage to take effect before injecting any filler, as the amount of filler required may be different at that point.
How much satisfaction do you get from your patients’ rejuvenation results?
As I always start with a thorough consultation and assessment, satisfaction levels are high on both sides. Most of my patients achieve their goals, are very happy with their results and return every year for maintenance. Many have become friends. I am most grateful for their trust in me, and for sending their own friends and family to me for treatment.
Cambridge Medical Group
08-05A1 Tower B, Ngee Ann City, 391B Orchard Road
6733 0777 | 9155 8869 (WhatsApp)
This article on non-surgical facelifts first appeared in the May 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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