Unlocking Youthful Radiance: The Wonders of Skin Tightening Procedures for Korean Dermatology

Nk Park, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon,
Founder/Director of Noonopi Plastic Surgery, Seoul

Achieving a youthful appearance without surgery is possible with noninvasive skin tightening procedures such as SkinTyte, Ultherapy, Thermage, and Soprano Titanium. These methods offer a natural, youthful look with minimal downtime. Unsure which treatment to choose? Dive into this article to explore the commonalities, differences, and pricing in Korean dermatology and plastic surgery clinics.

The global cosmetic surgery trend is shifting towards procedures over surgeries, and Korea is no exception. Skin-tightening procedures are particularly trendy, with intense competition in the field. Although often referred to as “laser skin tightening,” these non-invasive facial rejuvenation procedures utilize Energy-based devices (EBD) like Ultherapy® and Thermage®, which aren’t lasers. This article delves into SkinTyte®, Ultherapy®, Thermage®, and Soprano Titanium®, comparing their features and effects.

1. BBL SkinTyte

1) Technical aspect

Skin tightening treatments often employ ultrasound or radiofrequency in popular Energy-based devices (EBDs). As a result, the idea of using light (laser) for facial rejuvenation isn’t as prevalent.

SkinTyte® treatment, developed by Sciton, USA, offers a facial tightening solution using the near-infrared light. It elevates skin temperature, triggering the breakdown of old collagen and subsequent generation of new collagen. In contrast to injections like Rejuran, SkinTyte enhances skin elasticity by stimulating the body’s natural healing process.

The depth of skin penetration varies depending on the wavelength of light energy used.

2) Main application and effect 

The primary application and effectiveness of SkinTyte extend across multiple areas, including the face, neck, and décolleté. It particularly excels in addressing concerns such as fine wrinkles and loss of elasticity. By activating collagen, SkinTyte tackles the underlying causes of skin aging, yielding noticeable improvements in both fine and deep wrinkles.

SkinTyte wrinkle reduction : Two times treatment case

What sets SkinTyte apart from other skin-tightening lasers is its versatility. In addition to collagen regeneration, SkinTyte exhibits efficacy in treating pigmented lesions, sun-damaged skin, acne, and facial redness. This unique attribute broadens its scope of application, making it a comprehensive solution for various skin concerns.

Pigment lesion has been largely improved with SkinTyte treatment

3) The standout features of SkinTyte include:

  • Universality across racial skin types
    SkinTyte treatment offers three filter options, enabling effective treatment for individuals with both fair and darker skin tones.
  • Safety measures
    SkinTyte ensures skin elasticity enhancement without causing scalding. Equipped with cooling technology, it can adjust skin surface temperature precisely between 1 and 30°C. This feature allows for the safe delivery of desired energy beneath the epidermal layer while safeguarding the skin surface.
  • Anesthesia-free procedure
    Unlike Ultherapy or Thermage, SkinTyte doesn’t necessitate the use of anesthesia or numbing creams. Patients typically experience a comfortable warmth similar to that of a sauna during the procedure.
  • Swift recovery
    Minimal redness typically fades within half a day post-treatment, with no noticeable swelling. Patients can resume their usual activities, including swimming or going to the gym, on the same day as the procedure.
  • Quick treatment time
    SkinTyte sessions typically last between 15 to 20 minutes. With minimal post-procedure care required, the entire process from arrival to departure takes less than an hour. This convenience makes SkinTyte an attractive option, especially for foreign tourists visiting Seoul, who can easily incorporate it into their schedules.

2. Ultherapy

1) Technical aspect

Ultherapy employs ultrasound technology, specifically High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), to administer heat directly to the SMAS layer (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) of the skin. This targeted delivery of heat promotes collagen reorganization within the skin. As a result, the procedure stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, leading to improved elasticity and reduced wrinkles. Ultherapy utilizes three types of transducers (tips) that vary in depth, enabling the formation of a thermal column extending up to 5mm from the skin surface. By affecting the SMAS layer, Ultherapy promotes both collagen creation and remodeling.

Ultherapy stimulates collagen production by precisely elevating the temperature at the appropriate depth using ultrasound technology.
Ultherapy procedures

2) Main application and effect 

Ultherapy, endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is primarily employed for skin lifting and wrinkle improvement in areas such as the forehead, chin, neck, and collarbone. Alongside Thermage, Ultherapy stands as a frontrunner in non-invasive treatments for skin lifting and elasticity enhancement.

Ultherapy face
Ultherapy indication

3) Features of Ultherapy

The procedure typically lasts between 60 to 90 minutes and may vary depending on the treatment area and individual skin condition. It doesn’t require any special preparation beforehand. However, due to significant discomfort, especially along the jawline, sedation anesthesia is often recommended. For those who struggle with sedation anesthesia, alternative methods such as applying anesthetic ointment after nerve anesthesia can be considered.

  • Recovery Period and Swelling:
    As a surgery-replacing procedure, Ultherapy boasts a remarkably short recovery period of just 1 to 2 days. However, swelling is a common occurrence in approximately half of the cases post-procedure.
  • Applicability to All Skin Types:
    Ultherapy is safe for use on various skin types and colors, irrespective of race, making it inclusive and accessible to a broad range of individuals.
  • Pain Minimization:
    Many patients experience tingling discomfort during the procedure, necessitating the use of anesthesia to alleviate discomfort.

The most frequently reported side effects post-procedure include redness, swelling, pain, and temporary paresthesia. While these side effects are typically temporary and subside within 1-2 days, they may vary from person to person, emphasizing the importance of exercising caution.

3. Thermage FLX

1) Technical aspect

Thermage boasts a rich history and remains at the forefront of non-invasive skin lifting procedures. It utilizes radiofrequency (RF) technology to deliver heat deep into the skin layers, stimulating collagen production. Unlike SkinTyte, which relies on light energy (laser), and Ultherapy, which utilizes ultrasound, Thermage generates heat through high-frequency waves. With four types of tips available, Thermage targets the lower dermis with precision.

As radiofrequency waves penetrate human tissue, they generate heat within the treatment area. This process effectively enhances skin elasticity, diminishes wrinkles, and rejuvenates the skin, resulting in a more youthful and smoother appearance.

As we age, the collagen responsible for maintaining skin firmness diminishes, leading to sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Thermage employs radiofrequency technology to heat the deeper, collagen-rich layers of the skin. Additionally, the tip has the capability to vibrate at the surface, providing relief from discomfort.
The applied heat from Thermage treatment separates water molecules from the fibrous collagen, resulting in immediate contraction and tightening of the skin.
Over the subsequent months, a secondary healing response ensues as collagen deposition and remodeling take place, further enhancing the skin’s texture and appearance.

2) Main application and effect 

Thermage improves the elasticity of wrinkles and sagging skin on various areas such as the face, around the eyes, and on the body. It effectively reduces both fine and deep wrinkles, lifts and tightens the skin, and improves sagging eyelids. The treatment is also applied to the neck and jawline, stimulating collagen production to promote natural improvement of the skin. Consequently, the effects of Thermage appear gradually over several months following the procedure. Most patients typically notice visible results within 2 to 6 months after undergoing the treatment.

Thermage before/after

3) Features of Thermage 

  • Duration of Treatment Effect:
    For most patients, the effects of Thermage gradually manifest within 2 to 6 months after a single treatment session. These effects can last for 1 to 2 years, contingent upon individual skin condition and the aging process. As a result, treatment frequency is typically recommended every 6 months to 1 year, depending on the skin’s needs.
  • Effective with One Treatment:
    Thermage stands out among non-invasive lifting treatments for delivering excellent results with just one session.
  • Short Recovery Period:
    Compared to surgical procedures, Thermage entails minimal swelling, allowing patients to resume their daily activities within 1-2 days post-treatment.

Thermage is an FDA-approved treatment recognized for its safety and efficacy, backed by extensive clinical studies and positive patient experiences. Suitable for individuals of all skin types and colors, it particularly benefits those concerned about fine wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. While non-invasive radiofrequency treatment is generally safe, minor side effects such as temporary redness, swelling, burning, bruising, and numbness or pain at the treatment site may occur in some patients. Fortunately, these symptoms typically resolve within a few hours to a few days on their own.

4. Soprano Titanium

1) Technical aspect

When discussing titanium lifting, the term often associated is ‘Alma’s Soprano Titanium’. This procedure gained significant popularity among customers visiting dermatology clinics in Gangnam in 2023.

Similar to BBL SkinTyte, the principle behind titanium lifting involves transmitting light energy to the skin to stimulate heat generation and collagen synthesis. Consequently, like all non-invasive skin treatments discussed in this article, the effects of titanium lifting are not immediately apparent after the procedure. Instead, they gradually emerge over time as collagen undergoes resynthesis.

Soprano Titanium

2) Main application and effect 

  • Collagen Stimulation:
    The procedure stimulates increased collagen production, resulting in a gradual enhancement of skin texture and tightness. This contributes to overall skin regeneration, promoting a more youthful appearance.
  • Reduction of Signs of Aging:
    Visible signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin are effectively reduced. This leads to a rejuvenated appearance, restoring a youthful look.
  • Versatility:
    The treatment’s versatility allows for its application on various body parts where sagging skin is a concern. Whether it’s the face, neck, or chest, the procedure can target specific areas of concern, providing comprehensive rejuvenation and tightening effects.
Titanium laser

3) Features of Soprano Titanium

  • Safety:
    Alma Soprano Titanium is considered generally safe for all skin types, including individuals with darker skin tones. However, it is crucial to consult with a qualified professional before undergoing the procedure to ensure suitability and address any potential concerns.
  • Minimal Discomfort:
    The treatment is known for its relatively painless nature, with most individuals experiencing only a slight warmth or tingling sensation during the procedure. This enhances patient comfort and satisfaction throughout the treatment session.
  • Immediate Return to Daily Activities:
    As a non-invasive procedure, Alma Soprano Titanium requires minimal downtime. Patients can typically resume their daily activities immediately following the treatment, making it a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles.

5. Comparision of skin tightening laser

1) Common

Upon reading this article, you might have noticed the recurrence of similar themes, leading to potential confusion. This repetition is intentional, as it underscores a fundamental similarity among all the discussed procedures. Essentially, the principles underlying each procedure remain consistent, differing primarily in the tools utilized. These principles include the application of heat to stimulate collagen regeneration. Consequently, the effects of these procedures typically manifest gradually over a period of 2 to 6 months. Moreover, due to their non-surgical nature, these treatments entail a relatively short recovery period. However, it’s important to note that multiple sessions may be necessary to achieve optimal results.

In essence, these concepts can be succinctly summarized in just three sentences, as follows:

  • Application of heat to regenerate collagen.
  • Gradual manifestation of effects over 2 to 6 months.
  • Short recovery period due to non-surgical nature, though multiple sessions may be required for desired outcomes.

2) Differences

Comparison of skin-tightening laser

The advantages, disadvantages, and distinctions among the procedures are elucidated in the image provided above. The pricing for lifting laser treatments is derived from my experience at Gangnam Dermatology Plastic Surgery Clinic, though it’s important to acknowledge that costs may fluctuate based on factors such as hospital amenities, treatment specifications, and the patient’s anesthesia requirements.

6. Conclusion

As skin conditions and aging processes vary from one individual to another, it is imperative to tailor an optimized lifting plan for each patient based on a thorough analysis of their specific skin condition. It’s crucial to bear in mind that the effects of treatment typically become apparent over a span of 2 to 6 months. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that patients have a clear understanding of these timelines while also prioritizing visible improvements.

Dr. Nk Park

Unlike surgical procedures, treatments utilizing Energy-Based Device (EBD) equipment are influenced by various factors, including customer trends, technological advancements, and marketing strategies. Consequently, certain procedures may gain undue popularity among the public despite their efficacy. As both a physician and a business owner, I must consider the level of awareness among customers and the impact of advertising when selecting equipment.

Following extensive evaluation and comparison of various equipment options, Noonopi Plastic Surgery has opted to utilize Sciton BBL as our device. Despite its relatively low public awareness in Korea, Sciton BBL employs the most scientifically up-to-date principles. Notably, it demonstrates superior efficacy in addressing pigmentation concerns compared to other devices. Moreover, it has garnered the most favorable response from our clientele. Additionally, as I delved deeper into the subject, I began to contemplate the potential of near-infrared lifting as the future of laser skin rejuvenation. Moving forward, our clinic remains committed to delivering the highest standard of care to our patients while continuing to prioritize ongoing research and innovation.

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