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Everything you need to know about Skin Tightening

Skin tightening involves tightening the skin on the face, neck or body. According to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, it is one of the most effective methods for tightening loose and sagging skin.

"After the age of 30, we slow down the production of collagen and elastin - the two proteins that help our skin stay firm, full and toned," she explains. "What non-surgical skin tightening with lasers does is direct energy into the skin layers to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which will gradually improve structure and tone."

Laser, HIFU, RF, ultrasound, etc. can tighten the skin almost anywhere on the body.

According to Nussbaum, laser, HIFU and ultrasound can treat loose skin on the face, neck (and chin), abdomen, thighs and basically all other places on the body you want to improve. Not all devices sold out there are the same - what may work magically on your butt will not be the best option for tightening your lower eye area.

Laser skin tightening is non-invasive, non-surgical and not very painful.

In addition to slight discomfort from the heat produced by the laser during the treatment, it is practically painless to tighten the skin. You can even enjoy the feeling of warmth, as Dr. Nussbaum compares to "a hot stone massage."

There are four main methods for skin tightening.

Although there are literally hundreds of different names for skin tightening treatments, they all fall under the umbrella of three main categories: Laser, Ultrasound, Radio Frequency (RF) and HIFU.

Skin tightening by laser treatment

Lasers can send heat deep into the skin without damaging the top layer of your skin. These lasers are used to tighten the skin all over the body and can be especially useful for tightening loose skin on the abdomen and upper arms. You may need 3 to 5 treatments to get results, which gradually appear between 2 and 6 months after the last treatment.

HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound)

Ultrasound is obviously not just for expectant mothers. According to Nussbaum, ultrasound treatments are extremely effective for those patients who are looking for a heavy lift. A HIFU treatment uses ultrasound to create heat at a deep level in the skin. This heat damages targeted skin cells and causes the body to try to repair them. To do this, the body produces collagen to help with cell regrowth. Collagen is a substance in the skin that gives it structure and elasticity.

The type of ultrasound that this procedure uses is different from the ultrasound that doctors use for medical imaging. HIFU uses high energy waves to target specific parts of the body. A fair warning, however, you must be patient: "You really start to see the best result after 3 months", adds Nussbaum. "You get an immediate lift, but it takes three months to see the best result."

Radio frequency

Radiofrequency also uses a hand-held device for skin tightening by heating the skin for an astringent effect. “With radio frequency, we heat the skin to a more superficial level to trigger collagen production.

There is really little or no downtime. As with ultrasound treatments, it can feel really hot - it's like a hot stone massage. It is also a gradual process, so while you may be away from the office for an hour of treatment, you usually need two to six treatments (depending on the size of the area you are treating) Nussbaum explains.

A high-intensity focused ultrasound skin tightening, or in short HIFU treatment, is a non-invasive treatment for skin tightening. This procedure is part of a growing trend for anti-aging treatments that provide some of the benefits of a facelift without the need for surgery.