On October 10th, I was given the opportunity to attend the Houston stop of the IllumiNATION tour. The tour involved a sneak preview of new technological developments with Thermage and Fraxel treatments. The IllumiNation tour stopped at several dermatologist offices throughout the country in an effort to introduce the new innovations to the public.
The event was well attended by a very anxious and excited crowd of men and women from the Houston area. Many were probably excited to hear about the new developments in the new technological upgrades, although many of them probably attended based on their experience with Dr. Suzanne Bruce. She has been in practice since 1985 and has accumulated by all accounts a loyal following.
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview the very popular Houston dermatologist.
L.G.: Who is this Thermage intended for- what skin type and age range?
Dr. Bruce: “Thermage is going to help with sagging, improve texture and to help firm and tighten. As we age, the collagen fiber strands begin to sag and form of gel-like pockets. Thermage will plump and tighten the collagen.”
L.G.: So it does help with similar body issues? Like cellulite?
Dr. Bruce: “Yes.”
L.G.: Are there risks of bruising, swelling or hematoma?
Dr. Bruce: “We pretty much never see bruising, swelling or hematoma with Thermage. Now with Fraxel there is some redness and swelling.
There is no down time with Thermage or redness, swelling or bruising, unlike with Fraxel with which there are some days of redness and swelling, although it can vary with time frames. There are two ways to pursue Fraxel: there is the more aggressive one with which you can do in a single treatment. It may cause one to two weeks of redness or swollenness.
The less invasive method will cause only three or four days of some redness and a swollen appearance (during recovery time), however this also normally involves a series of treatments. What determines the amount of down time really is how deep the wrinkles are, meaning the deeper the wrinkles the more down time. The treatments range from one to five treatments depending on how aggressive a treatment is needed.”
L.G.: What is a typical Thermage treatment like? For Fraxel?
Dr. Bruce: “For Thermage, we put a grid on the skin like a temporary ink tattoo with three-centimeter squares, we treat (the Thermage applicator) each square and then do the next and then the next square. We do it multiple times, and each time it’s heating the skin. The patient feels a sensation of heat, so for Thermage we do not use any numbing cream. We need the patient’s feedback, for example if they are not feeling any heat then it needs to be stronger or if the heat is painful then we turn the heat down. The new Thermage technology makes it more comfortable for the patient because it has an added device that vibrates. We are finding that with the vibration sensation the patient feels less pain. The patient feels the heat but its much more tolerable.
The procedure will typically take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. It depends on if you are doing only the face area, which may take an hour. Or if you decide on doing both the face and neck, then it’s more like an hour and a half. Or if you are doing a big area like the thighs, which can take an hour or two dependent on if you are doing front and back. The stomach area would generally take about an hour.
The Fraxel requires anesthetic cream so patients need to arrive an hour early. We have to apply a thick layer of anesthetic and let it sit on the skin for an hour before the procedure. The actual procedure only takes twenty to thirty minutes. The laser involved with the Fraxel causes a more intense sensation so the anesthetic is needed.”
L.G.: How is the Fraxel Dual System different from previous Fraxel methods? Novel laser wavelength?
Dr. Bruce: "Well there are now two wavelengths in one machine. Also doctors can now switch back and forth, for example if we want to target more of the brown spots then we would use the new 1927 wavelength. However if we want to build more of the collagen to plump up wrinkles then we would use the original 1550 wavelength. It gives doctors more flexibility as to what the patients want to target. "
L.G.: Will you see immediate improvement with Thermage? Fraxel?
Dr. Bruce: "With both Thermage and Fraxel, patients will see some immediate improvement but over the six months they will continue to see improvement and increased collagen. Patients will look better in six months than immediately after."
L.G.: What is the price range?
Dr. Bruce: "Full face intense Fraxel treatments and full face Thermage dependent on wrinkles or skin condition run around $1900, but face and neck will be more like $2600.
Less aggressive Fraxel treatments requiring about a series of four treatments will range from $3600- 4000 for full face. For full face and neck it would be more but that is a ballpark figure for the procedures."
L.G.: How frequently should it be done for optimal results?
Dr. Bruce: “With acne or scars you should not have to come back because results will be permanent as long as you do not continue to develop more acne. However with wrinkles, you will naturally continue to age so you may want to come back in a couple of years. “
Additionally, Dr. Bruce told me a bit about a new device called Zerona, a non invasive body slimming mechanism. I think I just heard hearts stop- yes readers it is very exciting. According to Dr. Bruce, “It’s a new machine that sparks the metabolism of the fat cells and has a slimming effect.”
Before I become bombarded with e-mails, her is the contact information for the office of Dr. Suzanne Bruce and Associates, The Center for Cosmetic Dermatology:
1900 St. James Place
Houston, TX 77056
Many thanks extended to Dr. Bruce and her staff for being so informative and thorough with the interview and the event. It was such a fun event. Additional thanks to the staff from the IllumiNATION tour for the invite and arranging the interview.