Service Spotlight: Thermi

If you’re in medical aesthetics, how many of your patients come in asking for results along the lines of smoothed wrinkles, skin tightness, renewed firmness? 

My guess would be those results are what almost 100 percent of your patients are looking for! If you agree, I know you’re going to love today’s Service Spotlight highlighting Thermi. 

Thermi is the world leader in minimally invasive thermistor-regulated energy solutions for aesthetics, dermatology, and women's health and there are a variety of applications of the technology all aimed at producing rejuvenating, tightening, and smoothing results through dermal heating. 

In this week’s dose of inspiration, education, and encouragement, we’re covering all the bases on what you need to know about Thermi and a variety of modalities of this treatment, specifically ThermiSmooth, ThermiTight, and ThermiVa.  
Even if you do not work in a medical environment or perform these types of treatments, knowing other treatments within your industry is what allows you to stand out as a trusted source of information with your clients. 

And the more helpful you can be with recommendations, references and teaching your clients and patients, the more you’re building your credibility as an aesthetic expert. 

Now let’s get into it. 

All of the Thermi modalities use radiofrequency or RF to heat the tissue and cause subdermal collagen stimulation. This collagen stimulation is what smooths out fine lines and tightens the skin. With thermismooth, on the face, we use a wand like applicator that moved continuously across the area being treated for a set amount of time. The concept is to heat the skin to somewhere between 42 - 45 degrees celsius and maintain that temperature for a set amount of time to reach the desired clinical endpoint. You’re able to treat the eyes, forehead, cheeks, mouth, and neck.  

For best results with ThermiSmooth a series of 3 to 6 treatments received in 1-2 week intervals is recommended.  

Let’s move on to ThermiTight. ThermiTight is an injectable RF. A tiny probe is injected into the area being treated by the physician and actually heats the tissue internally. The most common areas to be treated are the neck, breast, arms, abdomen, thighs, and knees. Because the tissue is being heated under the skin you get a greater response and ThermiTight produces a greater firming than ThermiSmooth.  

In the majority of cases, a single treatment of ThermiTight is sufficient. The physician performing the treatment will do a consult with the patient ahead of time and will advise the patient on the best treatment plan for their specific needs. 

Alright, now we are going to finish up this treatment spotlight with ThermiVa. The Va in ThermiVa stands for vaginal so ThermiVa uses radiofrequency for vaginal tightening. ThermiVa is one of the less-talked about modalities but is one I think is extremely helpful to know about, especially if you perform services such as laser hair removal in the bikini area and have patients who ask for your opinion on vaginal rejuvenation/tightening. 

With ThermiVa a small wand is interted into the vagina to internally heat the tissue and stimulate the collagen production.  This tightens up the vaginal tissue which is a welcomed benefit from women who have given birth and feel that “it’s just not the same down there”.  The increased blood flow to the area after a ThermiVa treatment has also helped several women who struggle with reaching orgasim. 

For optimal results with ThermiVa a series of 3 treatments received in 4 week intervals is recommended. 

Have any questions about Thermi or have your own experiences performing the treatment to share? 

Let me know in the comments or start a discussion in the Aestheticians Connect Facebook group.

Until next time, keep making the world a more beautiful place, inside and out!  

Understanding Growth Factors

Can you clearly explain to your patients/clients what a growth factor is?  If you said no, don't feel bad; you're not the only one.  We currently have over 3300 licensed aestheticians in our private Facebook group, Aestheticians Connect, and skincare ingredients is a common topic.  

When it came to the topic of growth factors there were a lot of professionals, including myself, who needed some clarification and I knew just the person who could help.  Dr. Rahul Mehta is the Vice President of Research and Development for SkinMedica, an Allergan Company.  

If you're unfamiliar with the SkinMedica product line, they are a global skincare brand founded by Dr. Fitzpatrick and are known for making major scientific advancements when it comes to skincare.  In fact, SkinMedica was the first line on the market to develop a line that used Epidermal Growth Factors.  

Check out the interview with Dr. Mehta below. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from our interview.

What is the difference between a Growth Factor and a Stem Cell?

Growth factors are natural substances made by skin cells to maintain healthy skin. They are responsible for stimulating repair of damaged skin, making components that provide firmness and elasticity to the skin and help maintain skin’s protective functions. 
Adult stem cells are cells which maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found by creating new cells. Where you hear about stem cells in skincare products, its actually either an extract of stem cells or stem cell conditioned media, the solution in which stem cells grow in a laboratory. Stem cells can be obtained from human tissue or from plants. Plant stem cell extracts are very rich in antioxidants where as human stem cell extracts or conditioned media are a good source of growth factors.

Human Growth Factors and Plant Growth Factors are used in skincare.  Is one more effective than the other and what are they doing in the skin? 

Advances in biotechnology over the past decade has created multiple sources of growth factors. They can be derived from several different human cells grown in a laboratory (skin cells, bone marrow stem cells, fat stem cells), extracted from one’s own blood (PRP - platelet rich plasma) or from non-human sources such as snails and some plants. 
While all cells can produce growth factors, the composition of the growth factor blend they produce is likely to be ideal for the health of cells that produce them. For example, fat stem cells are likely be produce growth factors that help functioning of fat cells and bone marrow stem cells are likely to produce growth factors that help with functioning of bone marrow. 
Similar logic can be applied to growth factors or growth factor like substances derived from non-human sources. Therefore, to maintain optimal skin health, ideal growth factors would be produced by skin cells, called fibroblasts, whose main function is to produce the components necessary to maintain skin structure and function. 
There are no true plant-based growth factors. Most data on plant stem cells show that they have very potent antioxidant components, which are important in providing protection to the skin but are not likely to have effects similar to growth factors.

Any skin types or conditions that you would not recommend using growth factors on? 

I don’t know of any contra-indications for using topical growth factors based on skin types, however, growth factors should not be used on open wounds or any medical condition that compromises the skin barrier (such as eczema or psoriasis) or alters cellular proliferation (such as skin cancer). The products help most with photodamaged skin with increasing effects with increasing severity of photodamage.

Many have expressed concern with using growth factor products on patients with cancer or who have had cancer in the past. Has this been studied and if so, what were the findings?

Using any active products on patients with cancer or who have had cancer in the past in a complicated matter. We do not recommend using our products  on patients with cancer or any other pathological skin condition simply because there are no studies that can prove safety in such vulnerable populations. All of our products are designed for use on in-tact skin. 
With respect to products with growth factors, the concerns people have stem from a few studies in cell culture or animal models where extremely high doses of a single growth factor is implicated in carcinogenic transformations. 
However, there are three main reason we believe topically applied growth factor products are safe.
  • Topically applied growth factors have very limited skin penetration abilities and therefore the amount of growth factors in the skin after topical application is several thousand or million times less than the levels of growth factors studied in direct contact with cells.
  • All the pre-clinical studies are on conducted using a single growth factor. In nature, no growth factor acts singly. They work in a physiologically balanced way so if one growth factor takes over the biology, others get involved and balance the physiology, not allowing any single growth factor to take charge.
  • We have been actively monitoring adverse event reports for our products for the past 10+ years and have only seen mild skin reaction such as rash and breakout in less than 0.02% of the products used.

Where would you suggest aesthetic experts to go if they are wanting to do more reading and research on the topic?

I just co-authored a chapter with the late Dr. Fitzpatrick, on Cellular Growth Factors in a Wiley Blackwell published book titled “Cosmetic Dermatology, Products and Procedures”, edited by Dr. Zoe Draelos. Chapter 35 gives an overview of the growth factors and a review of published data on current products. 
Another review was published in April 2014 issue of the journal “Facial Plastic Surgery” by Drs. Sabrina Fabi and Hema Sundaram. It also provides an overview of growth factor use topically and via superficial injections. 
Google Scholar lists many article using the search term “growth factors as cosmeceuticals”

I hope this interview with Dr. Mehta helps to clarify growth factors for you!  It certainly did for me!  

Do you regularly recommend products with growth factors to your patients/clients?  If so, what are your favorites?  Let me know in the comments section below.