Ultherapy vs. Thermage

portrait of attractive blonde woman

No matter how many expensive face creams and serums we use and how well we take care of our skin, it will eventually lax as we age. That is how it is, whether we like it or not.

In the past, the vast majority of people who wanted to tackle with aging skin had one option — plastic surgery. Nowadays, however, things are much different. We no longer have to go under the knife in order to look younger. In fact, there are a couple of very effective, non-invasive procedures that could make us look years, or even decades, younger.

The two most popular methods of such kind are, without a doubt, Ultherapy NYC and Thermage. In case you’re ever in the Big Apple, our NYC medical and aesthetic dermatology practice, The Dermatology and Laser Group, offers Ultherapy as part of our minimally-invasive youthful rejuvenation program.

Both of these procedures can make us both look and feel younger, although they are not quite the same thing. Truth be told, there are some significant differences between these two procedures. In order to pick the best one for ourselves, we should properly inform ourselves and consider all the factors.

What Is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy pre-treatment and post-treatment 120 days

We could best describe Ultherapy as a non-invasive alternative to a facelift. The goal of Ultherapy is to treat some common signs of aging, such as wrinkles and sagging in the face, brow areas, neck, and chest.

The treatment stimulates the production of collagen in the desired area(s), thus delivering a lifted, youthful appearance. By making the most of a unique FDA-approved technology, Ultherapy targets specific regions under our skin. This technology functions by using a particular temperature of heat energy, thus promoting collagen regeneration.

Three different layers get treated in the process — skin, muscle, and surface level wrinkles. The final goal is, naturally, less saggy skin with fewer wrinkles.

What Is Thermage?

Thermage is another non-invasive procedure that we can use to tighten and contour our skin. Just like Ultherapy, Thermage works by targeting collagen in our skin, stimulating new growth, and thus achieving the desired effect.

The treatment works through the use of radiofrequency technology to promote new collagen growth and tighten the skin. It reaches all skin layers, which makes it effective for numerous body areas. In fact, we can use this procedure in several locations, such as the face, eyelids, hands, neck, various body parts, etc.

The Differences Between Ultherapy and Thermage

The Energy

radio wave frequency

We might think that these two procedures have a lot in common, but that is only somewhat true. While the idea behind both Ultherapy and Thermage is to tighten the skin and make us look younger, the actual procedures differ.

The most obvious difference is the energy used. Ultherapy uses ultrasound and Thermage uses radiofrequency technology. However, even though they use different energies, both of these procedures create heat in the process.

It is important to note that ultrasound (the energy that Ultherapy uses) can reach the deepest skin layers much easier than the radiofrequency technology that Thermage uses. That makes Ultherapy not only more effective but overall safer as well.

The Goal of the Treatment

Both Ultherapy and Thermage have been designed to improve the way our skin looks. However, they affect it through different means, which makes them suitable for different kinds of problems.

Ultherapy works best when it comes to tightening our skin. On the other hand, Thermage is better at treating wrinkles and bulges.


Both of the procedures target deep skin layers, but not in the same way. By using highly focused energy, Ultherapy manages to penetrate through skin layers that used to be accessible only through invasive methods in the past.

That means that Ultherapy can tighten multiple layers of the skin and thus provide a longer-lasting effect.

Thermage, however, cannot penetrate as many skin layers as easily as Ultherapy can.


Radiofrequency technology typically affects larger areas during treatment, while ultrasound focuses on smaller, deeper skin layers. That means that Ultherapy uses highly focused energy on target areas, which makes it overall more precise than Thermage.


Discomfort is one of the major factors that we should take into account when deciding between Ultherapy and Thermage.

As previously mentioned, Thermage is a much older treatment than Ultherapy. Back in the day when it first became popular, it was fairly uncomfortable, mostly due to the amount of heat involved. However, with new developments in the treatment process, Thermage isn’t as painful as it once used to be. The cooling of the skin at the start of the treatment makes Thermage much more comfortable today.

In contrast, Ultherapy is almost painless. We might feel a slight burning or tingling sensation once the treatment starts and the energy is delivered, but nothing most of us can’t handle. Also, we can ask our doctor to give us a topical or local anesthetic, which will minimize any discomfort.

Time Commitment

One of the best things about non-invasive procedures is that they don’t require lengthy downtime. In fact, some don’t require any whatsoever.

Depending on our personal preferences, we can even go back to work right after the treatment. However, some redness in the targeted area can occur, as well as mild soreness, which is why many people decide to take a day off.

When it comes to the duration of the treatment, that can differ as well. If we want to treat a large area, that will take more time than treating a small one would.

Typically, a single session of a Thermage treatment can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. As a rule of thumb, Ultherapy is shorter; if we are treating small areas, the treatment can last only around 30 minutes, and if we are targeting a big area, it can take up to 60 minutes.

Regarding results, Ultherapy generally provides more long-lasting ones. However, it will take at least a couple of weeks or months before our skin laxity improves. Also, if we schedule touch-up treatments once a year, we will be able to maintain these results.

With Thermage, we will be able to see the difference faster, but the results won’t be as long-lasting.

Which One to Choose?

Both Ultherapy and Thermage can work wonders in making our skin look younger and tighter. In order to make the right choice, we should consider our skin type and the kind of problem that we have, as well as our expectations and our budget.

Ultherapy is generally more effective, and it provides long-lasting results. In addition, it is less painful than Thermage, takes less time, and is safer for the skin.

For More Information About Ultherapy

If you’d like to learn more about Ultherapy and whether or not it’s a good fit for you, contact us here or call us at (212) 444-8204.