Women are zapping their faces with radio waves instead of plastic surgery

Remodeling: It isn’t just for ’90s-era kitchens anymore. By harnessing the power of radio frequency and ultrasound technology, skin experts are zapping below the epidermal surface, “remodeling” tissue to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. The process results, they claim, in tighter, more youthful looking jawlines and necks. The best part (at least according to fans)? Because the procedures are noninvasive, there’s little to no downtime.

Both techniques use energy — a k a heat — to smooth fine lines and firm contours. They’re also deployed to de-jiggle pudgy bellies and wobbly thighs, and soften creasing in the décolletage area.

There are three main types of radio-frequency (RF) treatments: monopolar, bipolar and multipolar. They differ by the degree of skin penetration, and practitioners choose a system based on the body part and intensity of repair. Mono dives deepest — up to 20 millimeters below the epidermis. (Back in 2010, Demi Moore was rumored to be spending a whopping $150,000 per year on Thermage, the best-known monopolar treatment.) Bipolar options, like VelaShape, perform their magic in the 2-to-4 millimeter range. And new multipolar treatments, such as TriPollar, claim to work so superficially they can trigger a flattening of even the lightest lines and wrinkles.

Ultrasound, meanwhile, uses a different type of direct energy, allowing practitioners to deliver a precise mini-bolt and see exactly where it’s landing. New York dermatologist Melanie Grossman has been using Ultherapy, the biggie in this category, for six years. “It’s pretty revolutionary,” she says. “I think it’s the only noninvasive way to really lift and tighten the skin.”

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