Ultherapy vs. Thermage

Thermage Vs.Ultherapy: Which Procedure Is Better?

In 2019, one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures was a facelift. In 2020, the number of people getting facelifts decreased partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the decrease can also be connected to the rise in non-surgical procedures.

Many are opting for Ultherapy and Thermage treatments because they are non-invasive options. We’ll explore Thermage vs. Ultherapy, their benefits, and how these treatments differ. Read on to decide if either option is right for you.

What Is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy machine

Ultherapy treatments are one of many skin-tightening procedures that are used as a non-invasive alternative to a facelift. Those experiencing signs of aging may opt for this procedure. Let’s dive a little deeper to learn how does Ultherapy works. This process delivers ultrasound energy deep beneath the tissue to revitalize the skin.

This treatment can target specific areas such as the face, neck, brow areas, and chest. Ultherapy stimulates collagen production in the desired wrinkled areas giving off a more youthful and lifted look.

This technology is FDA-approved and uses heat energy to promote collagen regeneration. The goal is to receive better-looking skin with fewer wrinkles and less sag.

The three major treatment areas of Ultherapy are the brow areas, chin and neck, and the chest. 

What Is Thermage?

Thermage Vs.Ultherapy: Which Procedure Is Better? thermage machine

Thermage, another non-invasive procedure used for skin tightening, also works by targeting collagen. But how does Thermage work exactly? This treatment works with radiofrequency technology for collagen growth promotion. It also works to tighten the skin by reaching every skin layer.

This treatment can be done on multiple areas of the body. Thermage is FDA-approved specifically for wrinkle treatment. Unlike Ultherapy, they do not have FDA approval for skin tightening even though this treatment can provide some skin tightening.

Thermage can treat more areas of the body than Ultherapy. These areas include the eye area, face, abdominal area, and other parts of the body. Many choose to get this treatment done on their thighs.

Ultherapy is not approved to treat the areas around the eyes like Thermage is. Thermage helps the reduction of droopiness, minimizing bags, and reducing dark circles.

Thermage vs. Ultherapy: The Differences Explained

Both Ultherapy and Thermage are non-surgical procedures used as skin tightening solutions. The differences between the two involve how Thermage works and vice versa.

Although they have similarities, determining the difference between Thermage vs. Ultherapy can help you decide which option is right for you.

The Energy

Even though both treatments aim to make people look younger, the procedures are quite different. The main difference is the energy used.

For Ultherapy, ultrasound is used while radiofrequency technology is used for Thermage treatments. Both energies create heat during the treatment process.

Ultrasound, Ultherapy energy, has the ability to reach deep skin lasers better than radiofrequency technology. This is one of the major benefits of Ultherapy because it is safer and more effective. Since it can reach deeper skin layers, Ultherapy treatment is a more effective skin tightening treatment, providing non-invasive skin tightening in a single treatment session.

Treatment Goals

Both treatments aim to create beautiful skin, but one approach may be better at treating a specific person. This is because Ultherapy works best for skin tightening but Thermage is better for diminishing the look of bulges and wrinkles.

Depending on the individual and their skin type, one treatment may be more effective than the other to reach the desired results. Your doctor can help you develop a revitalizing treatment plan for optimal results, aimed to repair skin issues and create a more youthful appearance based on your skin rejuvenation needs. A trained medical professional can determine if you are a good candidate for Thermage and Ultherapy treatments.

Ultherapy Before and After Photo

See More Ultherapy Results in our Before and After Gallery

Targeting Skin Layers

The way each treatment penetrates deep layers of skin is different. Ultherapy’s energy is highly focused and can penetrate through skin layers that were not always accessible through non-invasive methods.

Thermage can penetrate deep skin layers, but not as easily. Because of this, Ultherapy provides a longer-lasting look.


Ultrasound technology focuses on smaller deep skin layers that produce more accurate results. Generally, radiofrequency technology aims for large areas of the skin. Because Ultherapy uses highly focused energy, the treatments tend to be more expensive compared to Thermage.

Discomfort Levels

With any procedure, non-invasive or invasive, the biggest concern for many is the level of discomfort.

Thermage often gets a bad rap because it is an older treatment. When it first came into the limelight it was incredibly uncomfortable because of the level of heat.

As technology develops, Thermage becomes less and less uncomfortable. Before the treatment, the skin is cooled which helps a lot with the level of heat. But does Thermage really work? Most people will see results in 2-4 months after one session, but it may vary for some individuals.

Most people find Ultherapy painless. You may feel a tingling sensation or small burn when the treatment begins, but nothing difficult to handle.

Everyone’s pain levels are different when it comes to skin-tightening treatments. Your doctor may offer to give you a local anesthetic or topical to ease any discomfort you feel during treatment.

Downtime and Time Commitment

For non-invasive procedures, the downtime is little to nothing. What you do after the treatment is often up to you. Some prefer to take the day off because of redness or soreness. No matter the treatment, whether Ultherapy vs Thermage, give your skin a break after any procedure.

One session of Thermage treatment is around 45 to 90 minutes long. Ultherapy is shorter as it only lasts around 30 to 60 minutes.

The duration of the treatment depends on the area being treated. For example, a large area is going to take more time than a small one.

Through Thermage treatment, you can see differences quicker. However, the results don’t last as long as Ultherapy.

After Ultherapy, you may not notice a change for weeks or months. It takes a bit longer for skin laxity to improve with this treatment.

To maintain the results of these treatments, you can schedule touch-ups each year.

It is important to note that not everyone is right for Ultherapy or Thermage. Someone who has a significant amount of laxity or skin sagging on their face may be better suited for a facelift instead. Those not in good overall health will not be considered for these non-surgical treatments.

Which One Is Right for You?

If your healthcare provider gives you the ok on getting non-surgical treatments, understanding the differences between Thermage vs. Ultherapy is essential. Whether you choose Thermage or Ultherapy, both can make the skin look brighter, tighter, and younger. To make the right choice, consider the differences between the two along with your skin type and skin problems.

Ready to make a long-overdue change? Contact us today at one of our many locations to learn how we can help you with our non-invasive treatments.

Picture of Ben Lee

Ben Lee

Dr. Lee received his bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with highest honors from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He went on to earn his M.D. with highest honors from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, followed by his MBA from the University of Colorado Denver. He completed his surgical internship at the University of California at San Francisco. Going on to train in otolaryngology/head & neck surgery at Duke University Medical Center, working closely with the plastic surgeons during his head and neck residency inspired him to continue training in plastic and reconstructive surgery. After this specialized training, Dr. Lee went on to become Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.

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With a wide range of breast, body, and face procedures, our goal at Wave Plastic Surgery is to allow for all of our patients to achieve their ideal appearance, no matter their age or ethnicity. Our doctors all have extensive experience working with patients of all different backgrounds and have developed expertise in Asian plastic surgery procedures such as eyelid and nose surgery. We work with all sorts of men and women—both local to the Los Angeles area and from far out of town—to help find the right procedure to help them reach their goals.

Wave Plastic Surgery offers an inclusive menu of non-surgical treatment options that will cover all types of anti-aging and skin concerns from wrinkles, sagging skin, hair loss, women’s health, poor skin texture, large pores, skin discoloration, Rosacea, acne, scars, volume loss, and aging hands, neck and chest.