Skin tightening 101: Everything you need to know

skin tightening, thermage, Fraxel, clear + brilliant, ultherapy, forma, Venus legacy. Victoria BC


So you're seeing a bit of sag in your jawline? Or perhaps you'd like a little lift to your brow? And of course, there's always the neck and a variety of other body parts to consider. Sounds like you're in the right place for the 101 on skin tightening!

Skin tightening can be confusing, with so many companies marketing their own devices. While there are many different skin tightening devices on the market, they all tend to utilize one of 4 primary technologies to create heat in the body tissue. Read on to find out more.


When heat is generated in the skin through technologies like radiofrequency (RF), laser, ultrasound, or infrared energy, it causes a process called collagen remodeling. Collagen is a protein that provides structure and support to the skin, and it is responsible for maintaining the skin's firmness and elasticity. As we age, collagen production decreases, which can lead to sagging skin and wrinkles.

When heat is applied under the surface of the skin, it stimulates the existing collagen fibers to contract and causes new collagen to be produced. This collagen production and remodeling process leads to the tightening and firming of the skin. In addition, the heat can also improve circulation and increase the production of elastin, another protein that helps keep the skin firm and elastic.

The specific mechanisms of collagen remodeling can vary depending on the technology used. For example, RF energy creates an electrical current that heats up the skin's tissues, while laser energy uses light to generate heat. Ultrasound energy uses sound waves to create heat, and infrared energy uses invisible light to generate heat.

Temperature may range from around 38º-45º depending on the device and technology being utilized. Exceeding these temperature ranges can actually cause damage to the skin, such as burning or damage to the fat layers. It's important to have an experienced, properly trained treatment provider, regardless of the technology

Overall, the application of heat to the skin through various technologies can stimulate collagen production and remodeling, leading to tighter, smoother, and more youthful-looking skin.


Heat can be created in the skin for skin tightening through several methods. Some of the main ways heat is generated include:

  1. Radiofrequency (RF) energy: (38º-42º) RF technology uses electrical energy to generate heat deep within the skin. This heat causes collagen fibers to contract, which results in tighter and firmer skin. RF energy is commonly used in non-invasive skin tightening treatments such as Thermage and Venus Legacy. 
  2. Laser energy: (40º-45º) Laser technology uses intense beams of light to create heat within the skin. This heat stimulates collagen production and remodels existing collagen fibers, resulting in tighter and smoother skin. Laser skin tightening treatments are offered by various laser devices such as Fraxel and Clear + Brilliant.
  3. Ultrasound energy: Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to create heat within the skin's deeper layers. This heat triggers collagen production, which leads to skin tightening and improved skin texture. Ultherapy is an example of a non-invasive skin tightening treatment that uses ultrasound energy.
  4. Infrared energy: Infrared technology uses invisible light to create heat within the skin's deeper layers. This heat stimulates collagen production and causes tissue contraction, resulting in tighter and smoother skin. Infrared energy is commonly used in non-invasive skin tightening treatments such as Forma and Exilis.


Generally if you have mild to moderate skin laxity you will experience a good result with skin tightening, as long as your expectations are reasonable. It is not for everyone though, and there are a few exclusions such as:

  • Pregnant or nursing women: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid skin tightening treatments, as there is not enough research to determine the safety of these treatments for the fetus or the nursing baby.
  • People with certain medical conditions: Skin tightening treatments may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions, such as active skin infections, autoimmune diseases, or bleeding disorders.
  • People with certain skin types: (applies to Laser) Some skin types, such as very dark or tanned skin, may be more prone to complications from skin tightening treatments. This is because the melanin in the skin can absorb the heat from the treatment and cause hyperpigmentation or other skin damage.

Because we want a result, but we don't want you to suffer.

Radiofrequency (RF) and ultrasound skin tightening are generally considered to be less painful than laser skin tightening, as they produce a more gradual heating sensation that is less likely to cause discomfort. We use an "octopolar" version of radiofrequency combined with electromagnetic pulsing, that provides excellent control over energy delivery and is super comfortable for the client.

Laser skin tightening uses concentrated beams of light to heat the skin and stimulate collagen production, which can be uncomfortable for some patients. The sensation during the treatment is often described as a feeling of intense heat or a mild burning sensation, and some patients may experience discomfort or pain during the treatment.

We've also worked with Infrared energy and found it to be very uncomfortable for the client, at higher temperatures.


We offer a complimentary consultation so you can have all your questions answered before you begin any skin tightening program. Give us a call today at 250.590.5459

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