Ask a Dermatologist: What is Thermage?

By Kat Hirsch on November 16 2023

Whether you’re looking to improve fine lines, wrinkles or volume loss, there really is a solution to address every skincare concern.

In this discussion with BC Living (BL), we explored Thermage, a non-invasive radiofrequency therapy, with our very own Dr. Marcie Ulmer. She also discussed its results timeline, cost implications and her personal experience with Thermage to enhance her self-care and well-being.

Let’s dive in.


Starting off with this — what is Thermage, and what are the benefits?

Dr. Ulmer: Thermage is a non-invasive radiofrequency therapy that applies heat to the deeper layers of your skin to stimulate collagen growth, which in turn helps smooth and tighten your skin for a more youthful and refreshed look.


When do you see results from Thermage?

Dr. Ulmer: Patients will see a difference immediately after their procedure, but the best part? Results continue to improve over the next six months as healthy new collagen grows.


How dramatic are the results from what you’ve observed, and does everyone respond the same?

Dr. Ulmer: Thermage treatment results are truly individual and dependent upon each patient’s ability to produce new collagen.

While many patients strengthen their existing collagen and dramatically produce new collagen in response to this radiofrequency therapy, we know that some patients may not make the same collagen in response to the same treatment. Everyone’s skin is as unique as they are. The benefit of skin tightening with Thermage results from collagen contraction and new collagen production.


thermage before and after - face

Thermage: Before, After (Face)


thermage before and after - eyes

Thermage: Before, After (Eyes)


(Photos have not been retouched. Individual results may vary).


What does the procedure involve?

Dr. Ulmer: Plan to be at the clinic for approximately two to three hours. A clinician is with you for your entire appointment and starts by placing a grounding pad on your back. They then transfer a temporary grid onto your skin (don’t worry—it comes off!), which is used as a guide throughout the procedure. Then it’s time for the Thermage machine to work its magic.

The technician uses a hand-held device, which not only provides heat for collagen stimulation but also a cooling sensation to help keep you as comfortable as possible. In some areas, the treatment feels like a warm vibration, while towards the chin and neck, you will experience more of a pinching sensation. If you’re treating the face and neck area, the machine passes over your skin multiple times on one side and then the other.


What is the cost?

Dr. Ulmer: The cost is dependent upon the area that is being treated. If you are interested in skin tightening, a consultation with your cosmetic specialist will help to determine if this is the right treatment for you. A detailed quote will be provided after your physician assesses the area you are hoping to improve.


Have you ever done this procedure yourself?

Dr. Ulmer: Thermage is part of my personalized self-care program and has been for several years. I am a proponent of conservative and natural results and Thermage is a treatment that reflects this approach. It incorporates so easily into my routine, and I love that there is no downtime.

On aging, we know that the COVID era changed our perspective on life. Now, more than ever, I feel truly grateful to be here, reflecting on a renewed appreciation for the gift of life. If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s that aging is truly a privilege.

Each day I strive to give my patients new opportunities to feel positive and confident about themselves, and their aging process, by supporting their personal commitments to self-care and enhanced well-being. Being a part of their journey is a sincere pleasure.


Read the full post on “What is Thermage?” from BC Living for more details on what exact treatment areas to target, post-procedure care, and whom this treatment is specifically recommended for.