Is Thermage vs Ultherapy Better?

Thermage vs. Ultherapy – Is There a Better Choice?

As people continue to age, their skin can start to show signs of the aging process. Many people are turning to non-surgical treatments like Thermage and Ultherapy to minimize wrinkles, tighten the skin and gain a more youthful look.  Both procedures address similar issues but there are many differences you should consider when deciding which method is the best choice for you.

What is Thermage?

Thermage is a nonsurgical procedure that uses radiofrequency (RF) to help tighten and smooth skin by promoting new collagen growth. During the treatment, the RF waves induce heat into the skin. This heat not only treats the outer layers of the skin, but it also extends inward.

Thermage is generally recommended for the face, the eye area, the abdominal area, and the thighs. A single Thermage treatment takes about 30 to 90 minutes depending on the treatment area and there is little to no downtime after the procedure.

What is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy is similar to Thermage but it uses ultrasound imaging. The ultrasound waves bypass the surface of the skin and stimulate collagen production more deeply in the desired areas.

Ultrasound is best known for targeting smaller, deeper skin layers. Because of this, Ultherapy is touted as treating the skin from the inside out. Ultherapy is the only FDA-cleared, non-invasive procedure for lifting and tightening areas including the brow line, chin, neck, and chest. Ultherapy has been specially designed so it can be used on the face.

Your skin will likely be red and irritated right after the treatment but will improve within a few hours. There is no downtime needed and regular activities can be resumed immediately.

Skin wrinkles treated with thermagePrimary differences between Thermage and Ultherapy

Thermage and Ultherapy are similar but you should be aware of the differences before deciding on the right treatment for you:

Thermage and Ultherapy – Treatment Areas

If you are looking to target the neck and chest area, Ultherapy would be the method of choice. These specific areas are not treatable with Thermage. You may consider Thermage if you are looking to target areas other than the face and neck. In addition to the face, Thermage is also an option for sagging skin on the abdomen, thighs, arms, and buttocks. These areas are not approved for Ultherapy treatment.

Thermage and Ultherapy – Timing of the Results

Both of these procedures take about the same amount of time to perform. But the results are generally slower with Thermage.  You can expect to see the full results from Ultherapy in two to three months. Results with Thermage can take up to six months to appear.

Am I a Candidate for Thermage or Ultherapy?

Nonsurgical and noninvasive procedures are a great option for people who are not ready to consider surgery or cannot have surgery due to other medical issues. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, these treatments are best suited for people who have mild to moderate skin laxity but do not require the dramatic lifting that is only possible with surgery.

In general, candidates for Ultherapy need to have good skin laxity especially if they want to treat the skin around the neck and chest.

Thermage is recommended for middle-aged patients who do not need or want a surgical facelift. To be a good candidate, you should have sagging skin in certain areas of the body including the neck, jowls, cheeks, brows, and eyelids. Thermage can also be an excellent choice to target larger areas of the body like the abdomen or thighs.

What Happens during Each Procedure?

Both Thermage and Ultherapy are done in the office of a doctor and have little to no downtime. There are some differences in how each procedure is performed:


  • Your provider will use a hand-held device to deliver radiofrequency energy into the dermal tissue of the targeted area. You will feel a brief sensation of heat each time it is used.
  • In general, a Thermage treatment can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.


  • Your provider will apply the ultrasound gel.
  • Your provider will place the Ultherapy device on the targeted site while using an ultrasound viewer to determine the appropriate settings to deliver ultrasound energy to the area being treated.
  • The treatment may take up to 90 minutes depending on the area.

Thermage and Ultherapy Safety

In general, Thermage and Ultherapy are safe. If you have preexisting medical conditions, you should consult with your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist for a consultation and approval before either of these procedures. You cannot receive Thermage or Ultherapy if you are pregnant or nursing or if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator.

Thermage and Ultherapy Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, there are potential side effects and complications with Thermage and Ultherapy. The most common Thermage side effects are temporary redness, minor swelling, and tingling. The most common temporary side effects from Ultherapy include heat sensation, skin tingling, redness, swelling, and tenderness.

Thermage vs. Ultherapy – Which One is Better?

Both Thermage and Ultherapy are procedures that are considered to be safe, require little recovery time and have minimal side effects. The decision about which one is the best choice depends on the area of the body you want to treat and your overall health.

If you have any medical conditions, you should get clearance from your doctor before continuing with one of these procedures.  Of course, it is always a good idea to discuss your options with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine which procedure is right for you.

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