Health & Diet

The Skinny On Lasers: Reviewing Two Popular Options

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Real Style magazine. Become a Real Style subscriber and get the hottest fashion, beauty and celebrity news, enter exclusive subscriber giveaways and be the first to receive the full digital version of Real Style magazine every month. Click here to subscribe for free! 


The latest laser treatments promise fat reduction and tighter looking skin with simple, non-invasive procedures, but are they too good to be true? Find out about our experience.

We admit it. We were totally seduced by advertisements for Thermage and Tripolar technologies, two of the most hyped laser treatments, for their apparent magical transformation of the skin and inch loss. We spent over six months testing out Thermage procedures for the face and Tripolar Maximus for the body in the hope of tighter skin and thinner limbs. What we found was that the treatments were expensive and, in our case, they did not fully deliver on the promises. But are they still worth it? You decide.



The brochure claims that Thermage will tighten the skin and prevent facial sagging.

As we age, our body’s ability to produce collagen declines, and collagen fibers beneath the outer layer of our skin start to loosen and sag. Thermage is based on the idea that, if collagen growth is stimulated, skin will appear younger and firmer. Thermage uses radiofrequency energy to heat collagen in the dermis, the skin’s lower layers, which makes the collagen fibers contract. The contraction allegedly tightens the epidermis, making the skin look younger.

The technician applies gel and then a grid to the patient’s skin to mark precisely what areas she will apply heat to. The skin is then treated with a number of pulses of radiofrequency energy from a wand, which the technician applies to the skin following the grid. It’s painful, but tolerable. People with sensitive teeth will feel it the most.

We were so disappointed by at the lack of any change in our skin after the first time that we tried the treatment again. We noticed very minimal visible tightening after the second visit, and we’re still waiting for the full result. We later found out that the treatment doesn’t actually work for everyone. Dr. Fred Weksberg of The Weksberg Centre for Cosmetic Dermatology, who performs this procedure, said: “We find that approximately 20% of all patients are non-responsive to Thermage treatments. It seems to work best on people with thinner skin, and we see good results around the eye area. If you have thicker skin or a rounder face, the results are less visible.” We have yet to notice any serious tightening of the skin, but we’re still hopeful that we’ll eventually see results.

We recommend that you get at least three consultations with cosmetic dermatologists to determine whether you have the type of skin that will respond to this treatment before investing in this procedure.

$2,500 to $3,500 per procedure, but usually only one visit is required. Results are said to become visible 6 months after treatment.



This Radio-Frequency (RF) procedure claims to help remove fat from the body and tighten skin without going under the knife.

The RF technology allegedly creates heat that liquifies fat on the body, and the Dynamic Muscle Activator (DMA) produces muscular contractions, which help expel the fat from the cells. The RF also allegedly stimulates collagen production, which also helps tighten the skin and decreases the appearance of cellulite.

A technician applies oil or gel for easier gliding. She or he then starts moving the apparatus across the treatment area in circular motion until the skin is ‘heated’ to a desired temperature of 45 degrees Celcius. Usually the treatment is 15 minutes per area. In the case of the muscle stimulator, a low frequency electric current is applied, which feels like tiny rubber bands being snapped back and forth. Not the nicest of feelings, but tolerable.

While we did see some skin texture improvement on the thighs and the arms, there was virtually no difference in their circumference. Dr. Wong, the owner of GlowMedi Spa, warned us prior to the treatment that the procedure doesn’t work as well on these parts of the body: “We have had minimal results on the arms and legs with this treatment,” she told us. “Tripolar maximus works really well on belly fat.”Well, all we can say is that she was right!

We would recommend the use of this treatment on the belly and the back areas, but avoid spending money on any other area of the body.

$1,500 to $3,000 per area. The price includes six visits that take place once a week for six weeks. Treatment performed: Thermage at DLK on Avenue; Tripolar at GlowMedi Spa


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