Reaching your weight-loss goal or the birth of a new baby are causes to celebrate. Unfortunately, these joyous events are often accompanied by loose abdominal skin. This sagging, or laxity, is caused by the breakdown of collagen, a fibrous, elastic protein present beneath the skin and in connective tissues. Thermage comfort pulse technology (CPT) is a relatively new technique that your doctor can use to nonsurgically stimulate collagen using radio frequency heated energy waves. Unlike original Thermage, Thermage CPT is recommended for mild to moderate laxity of the abdomen or thighs. The procedure is essentially painless, and can be performed in a doctor's office in about 60 minutes.
Consult with a board-certified physician who specializes in Thermage to determine if you're a viable candidate, and what results you can realistically expect. She may ask if you've had any similar procedures before, and what degree of change you desire to achieve. This will gauge if your expectations can be met. Be prepared for a brief physical exam, as with any other medically cosmetic consultation. Because Thermage stimulates the creation of new collagen, age is not as much of a factor as weight. Ideally, you will need to be within 10 to 15 pounds of your ideal weight for best results.
Eat and drink lightly one to two hours in advance of your arrival to your doctor's office the day of your scheduled appointment. Expect for a Thermage CPT treatment to take at least one hour. Your abdomen should be clean and dry, and free of moisturizers, lotions and perfumes. A pen-like laser with a 16-centimeter tip will be passed over the abdomen several hundred times. You'll feel warmth quickly followed by a cooling spray mist. Local anesthesia is generally not required, but if you feel discomfort at any time, tell your doctor. The wave intensity can be adjusted, if necessary.
Examine your body after treatment. You may resume normal activities immediately following the procedure. A visible change should already be apparent, as Thermage CPT immediately creates new collagen fibers, but full results won't be seen for 12 to 16 weeks. After about four months, all new collagen created from the procedure will be in place. If another treatment is desired on the same area of the body, it should not be attempted before this time. After two or three treatments to the same area (each spaced four months apart), if you are not fully satisfied, surgical cosmetic surgery can be considered.
- Your doctor is your best resource of information when it comes to your body's unique needs, but learn as much as you can about the procedure before your office consultation. Have a list of questions ready and feel free to take notes. The best patient is an informed one.
- Check with your health insurance prior to your consultation. Many health insurers will not cover cosmetic treatments unless deemed medically necessary.
- Following treatment, boost your intake of vitamin C-rich foods. It has been shown to increase the development of natural skin collagen.
- As with any medical procedure, trust only a qualified doctor who is specially trained and experienced in Thermage to treat you. She should not object to a request for references from past patients.
- If your doctor is reluctant to fully explain any part of the procedure to your satisfaction, or you don't feel completely comfortable for any reason, take your business elsewhere.
Genae Valecia Hinesman, former banking executive, entrepreneur and fashion model, began writing professionally in 2002. She is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied business, finance and exercise physiology. Her articles featured in Living Healthy: 360, Life 123, the American Chronicle and Yahoo Voices.