If you’ve got a turkey neck, a double chin, or horizontal or vertical banding on your neck, you’re probably wondering if a non-surgical neck lift could give you the results you want. Frankly, nothing beats the results of a surgical neck lift. But many people today want a less invasive option. Two of the more effective treatments employ Renuvion or bipolar radiofrequency (RF) devices like NeckTite. Which is a better choice for you? Please consider some facts. Then I’ll give you my opinion.
How to Tighten Loose Skin
Loose neck skin – the underlying causes
Your skin is composed of several layers. These are held together by a network of collagen fibers. In addition, elastin fibers keep your skin firm and elastic. If you’ve had extra fullness in your neck, you can develop horizontal banding, a double chin, or both. To look your best you’ll need to remove the excess fat and tighten the loose skin that’s left behind.
On the other hand, you may have what many call a turkey neck due to aging. Once you’re out of your twenties, your natural production of collagen and elastin start to decrease every year. You have fewer collagen fibers to anchor your skin in place. That can make the platysma muscles in your neck become more visible. They often appear as a V.
What you need to accomplish to tighten up your neck
If you want to improve your neck there are two main things you’ll need to accomplish. First, you’ll need to have any excess fullness removed. The most practical way to do this is with some form of liposuction. Your doctor will often use a laser or RF device to generate heat and liquefy excess fat cells. Then, using a small cannula (sterile hollow tube), he or she will suction out the liquid fat.
Next, you’ll need to tighten your neck skin. This is always necessary, whether or not your doctor removed excess fullness. In non-surgical neck lifts, skin is tightened by heating it. The microscopic collagen fibers that hold your skin in place will contract if we can apply the right amount of heat for the right amount of time. Studies show you can get maximum collagen contraction by heating to 65°C (149° F) for 120 seconds – a full 2 minutes, or to 85°C (185°F) for a fraction of a second.
Heating collagen properly will immediately tighten your skin. In addition, heating the skin substantially above normal temperature causes your body to produce more collagen. The more collagen fibers you have to anchor your skin, the tighter and firmer it will be.
How RF Devices like NeckTite tighten loose neck skin
NeckTite and other medical devices like Thermage and Alma Accent use radiofrequency (RF) waves to generate heat. They tighten skin using a process called bulk heating. This involves heating all layers of the skin to 65°C for at least two minutes.
Bipolar RF devices enjoy an advantage over older RF technologies. They use a small probe that goes under the skin (subdermal) and a larger probe that goes on the skin, parallel to the subdermal probe. This is why they’re called bipolar (two-pole) devices. Radiofrequency waves pass between the two probes, heating everything in-between. Keeping it in place until it reaches 65°C for 2 minutes liquefies fat cells, which can be drawn off in a thin liposuction cannula. The heat also cauterizes blood vessels, which lessens the chance of bruising. Finally, skin collagen contracts. This allows for immediate skin tightening. The heat generated steps up collagen production, so skin will continue to tighten for months.
How Renuvion (J-Plasma) tightens loose skin
The Renuvion system, once known as J-Plasma, is a revolutionary new approach to tightening skin. It uses cold helium gas to achieve outstanding results. Inserted through a small incision, the Renuvion wand fills the areas under the skin with helium. This will spread all around the tip. Then a patented process electrifies the gas, turning it into a plasma like what you see in neon lights and plasma TVs.
The electrically charged helium plasma instantly heats the lower levels of your skin to 85°C or more for a fraction of a second. Then the cold helium gas immediately cools it. This produces instant results greater than those seen in even the best RF devices on the market today. Those results will continue to improve as your skin’s collagen production increases.
Renuvion’s advantages over RF devices
Bipolar RF treatment can produce outstanding results. However, Renuvion enjoys a number of advantages. Here are some of them:
Plastic surgeon Dr. Diane Duncan conducted research on both bipolar RF devices and Renuvion. Afterwards, she commented on a bipolar RF device safety issue:
While the internal cannula tip can get to the preset temperature quickly, the surrounding tissue takes time to get warm. Thus, there are “hot spots,” which may develop seromas, and areas where heating is not optimized. If the operator continues to heat a region that has already been optimally treated, cauterization of the microvasculature can cause ischemia [insufficient blood supply], resulting in fibrosis or a burn.
As shown by this research, procedures using RF devices must be done carefully to avoid problems. Bulk heating can result in seromas (pockets of blood plasma that seeped out of ruptured small blood vessels and inflammatory fluid produced by injured and dying cells) or blisters. In addition, if temperatures get too high, the result can be fibrosis (the thickening and scarring of connective tissue) or a burn.
To prevent these problems from occurring, doctors continually monitor skin temperatures. Unfortunately, once tissue is heated it can remain hot for several minutes. And because the heated area is primarily confined to the skin directly between the probes, the doctor may have to cover a smaller area in a session to avoid excess pain or injury. Dr. Duncan’s review article continues:
The Renuvion® device heats the tissue to temperatures greater than 85°C for between 0.040 and 0.080 [of a second]. Heating the tissue to these temperatures for this period of time is adequate for achieving maximal soft tissue coagulation and contraction. However, unlike with bulk tissue heating, the tissue surrounding the treatment site remains at much cooler temperatures resulting in rapid cooling after the application of the energy through conductive heat transfer.
A much larger difference between internal and external tissue temperatures for the Renuvion device achieves maximal tissue contraction while maintaining safe skin temperatures without the need for temperature monitoring.
This graph of temperature readings taken during a Renuvion procedure shows the quick heating and cooling effect on lower skin layers. Clearly, a Renuvion non-surgical neck lift can achieve a high degree of tightening without the need to monitor skin temperature to avoid a scar, blister or burn. Now, I’m sure that most plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists who perform non-surgical neck lifts with bipolar RF devices carefully monitor their patients’ skin temperature to avoid blisters or burns. But I would personally feel better having a procedure that is inherently safer and doesn’t require perfectly functioning monitoring equipment and constant attention to prevent a problem.
As mentioned above, bipolar RF devices primarily heat tissues between the internal and external probes. Any skin tightening will be in these areas. However, there is a limit to how much local anesthetic can be injected. This could reduce the amount of skin tightening that can be done in any one session.
In contrast, the Renuvion device spreads helium gas 360⁰ from the tip of its wand. Once energized, that gas will contract tissue in the entire area surrounding the wand tip. This allows for greater coverage than may be practical with bipolar RF devices. That can mean more pleasing results.
A better, safer non surgical neck lift in your area
To sum things up, both Renuvion and bipolar RF devices like NeckTite can do a great job in tightening loose neck skin. However, Renuvion has a built-in safety advantage over bipolar RF devices. Its electrically charged helium gas can achieve faster results over a greater area.
You can find a physician that offers Renuvion by clicking on the Renuvion ad at the top of this page. If you’re in Inland Empire, California east of Los Angeles, you can find me at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario.