Non-Surgical Skin Tightening | The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (2023)

Guide to Non-Surgical Skin Tightening

In general, non-surgical skin tightening procedures work by using targeted energy to heat deeper layers of skin, which stimulates collagen and elastin production and gradually improves skin tone and texture. Some treatments also affect fibrous tissue to help smooth cellulite. There are numerous FDA cleared skin tightening treatments and technologies on the market, and each uses a unique mechanism to achieve the desired result. This guide will help you learn more about non-surgical skin tightening and your various options.

  • Why consider non-surgical skin tightening?
  • Am I a good candidate?
    • Ultrasound
    • Radiofrequency
    • Combining IPL/radiofrequency
  • Infographic guide to non-surgical body contouring options
  • Choosing a non-surgical skin tightening provider

Why consider non-surgical skin tightening?

As we age, production of collagen and elastin—two proteins that help our skin stay plump, firm and smooth—slows down, resulting in areas of lax, sagging skin on the face, neck and body. If you are bothered by skin laxity, non-surgical skin tightening can temporarily halt this process and restore a firmer, smoother, more youthful appearance with little to no downtime.

Benefits of non-surgical skin tightening

  • Tightens mild to moderately loose skin on the face, neck, or body without surgery or scars
  • Many treatments can provide a noticeable “lifting” effect
  • Little to no downtime is needed
  • Very low risk of adverse effects when performed by a qualified provider
  • Treatments can be performed in-office, typically in 1 hour or less
  • Results can last up to 1 year


  • Results appear gradually over several weeks or months following treatment
  • Multiple treatments may be needed to achieve desired results
  • Treatment will need to be repeated periodically to maintain results
  • Not effective on more advanced skin sagging, such as pronounced jowling or stretched skin following pregnancy or weight loss

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Am I a good candidate for non-surgical skin tightening?

Non-surgical skin tightening is generally best suited for patients who are bothered by mild to moderateskin laxity and do not need the more dramatic lifting and skin removal possible with cosmetic surgery.

(Video) What Is the Best Treatment for Skin Tightening? | Dr. Angela Sturm

While there are very few serious side effects associated with non-surgical skin tightening, it may not be appropriate for patients who are pregnant, taking certain medications, or have certain medical conditions.

The best way to find out ifnon-surgical skin tightening is right for you is to consult with an experienced cosmetic surgeon. Start by finding surgeons in your area who are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS).Diplomates of the ABCS have undergone extensive training in surgical and non-surgical cosmetictreatments, and can help you choose the best option for your needs and goals.

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Non-surgical skin tightening treatments & technologies

Outlined below are the most common FDA cleared technologies availablein the U.S.

Ultrasound skin tightening

Some skin tightening treatments use focused ultrasound energy, which heats skin at specific depths (up to 5mm deep) and locations to induce collagen production and help skin become firmer. Treatments are delivered via a handheld device, which transmits the ultrasound waves through the skin’s surface. Ultrasound technology has been used in medicine for many decades, and ultrasound skin tightening has an excellent safety profile. It is effective for older patients looking for a mini facelift without surgery and for younger patients who want to maintain their skin profile and prevent skin laxity as they age.

(Video) Cutting Edge without the Cutting: Top 5 Cosmetic Treatments from a Holistic Plastic Surgeon!

Fast facts about ultrasound skin tightening:

  • Ultherapy®, the most widely used name brand, is FDA cleared to treat the brow, chin, neck, and chest
  • Best for patients who want to treat early signs of aging on the face and neck
  • Can help postpone need for facelift surgery
  • Treatments take 30 to 90 minutes, with no downtime
  • Patients may experience temporary discomfort while the ultrasound energy is being delivered
  • Side effects are typically mild and include temporary redness, bruising, and numbness
  • Results are seen within 2 to 3 months and can last up to a year with good at-home skincare

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Radiofrequency (RF) treatments

Radiofrequency (RF) energy can also be used to heat the skin and trigger collagen production. In contrast to ultrasound, RF focuses on epidermal layers to achieve a firmer, smoother appearance. Brand name treatments include Profound® RF, Exilis®, Morpheus8®, and Thermage®. Like ultrasound treatments, RF treatments are effective for smoothing and tightening skin in older patients as well as postponing the need for a surgical lift in younger patients.

Fast facts about RF skin tightening:

  • FDA cleared options can treat the face, neck, hands, and body
  • Treatments can be performed in-office, typically involve little to no discomfort, and require no downtime
  • Most RF-only treatments are safe for all skin types
  • Some procedures, such as EmbraceRF®, are considered “subdermal” and require one very small incision using local anesthesia
  • Results appear gradually and, thanks to RF’s ability to stimulate collagen production, improve in the months following treatment
  • RF microneedling is a new technology that allows surgeons to combine the benefits of microneedling and RF to stimulate more collagen & elastin and treat deeper layers of skin
  • A series of 2 to 6 treatments may be recommended for optimal results

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Combining IPL/RF treatments

A third class of skin tightening treatments combines intense pulsed light (IPL) with radiofrequency (RF) to heat deeper layers of skin and induce the natural healing response, which in turn triggers collagen production. The addition of IPL allows a provider to treat a large amount of skin and skin conditions, while the RF energy can be hyper-focused to treat deep layers of skin. Combination non-surgical skincare treatments tend to be extremely effective, as they are able to treat multiple concerns in one procedure. Commonly used treatments include Venus Versa®, and VelaShape®.

Fast facts about IPL/RF combination treatments:

  • An IPL device sends out multiple wavelengths of light to treat a range of skin conditions simultaneously
  • Treatments can be performed in-office with little to no downtime
  • Patients typically experience little to no discomfort
  • Results appear gradually as the skin produces new collagen
  • A series of treatments may be recommended for optimal results
  • IPLtreatments may not be suitable for darker or tanned skin

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Your Non-Surgical Body Contouring Options: An Infographic Guide

Non-surgical body contouring includes much more than skin tightening. Today, you have options to reduce fat, smooth cellulite, rejuvenate vaginal tissues, and remove unwanted hair. The guide below outlines all of your options.

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Choosing a non-surgical skin tightening provider

In general, completely non-invasive skin tightening treatments can be safely performed by a licensed, trained aesthetician or registered nurse working under physician supervision. Subdermal treatments that require an incision, such as EmbraceRF, should be performed only by a qualified cosmetic surgeon or provider with equivalent training and experience.


The best place to start? Schedule a consultation with an experiencedcosmetic surgeon near you to discuss your needs and goals, review your treatment options, and learn hownon-surgical skin tightening can help you feel more confident in your appearance.

(Video) Here’s What Nonsurgical Skin Tightening Can and Can’t Do

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References »

Gold MH. Update on tissue tightening. Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology. 2010.

Hendricks AJ, Farhang SZ. Dermatologic facial applications of Morpheus8 fractional radiofrequency microneedling. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2022.

Kaplan H, Kaplan L. Combination of microneedle radiofrequency (RF), fractional RF skin resurfacing and multi-source non-ablative skin tightening for minimal-downtime, full-face skin rejuvenation. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2016. doi: 10.1080/14764172.2016.1228981

Montes JR, Santos E. Patient Satisfaction Following Treatment With Microfocused Ultrasound With Visualization: Results of a Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey. Journal of Drugs and Dermatology. 2019.

(Video) BEST NEW Facelift Techniques You MUST Know About in 2023

Rusciani A, Curinga G, Menichini G, Alfano C, Rusciani L. Nonsurgical tightening of skin laxity: a new radiofrequency approach. Journal of Drugs and Dermatology. 2007.

Weiner SF. Radiofrequency Microneedling: Overview of Technology, Advantages, Differences in Devices, Studies, and Indications. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America. 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.fsc.2019.03.002


What is the best non-surgical way to tighten skin? ›

Bottom line: Laser resurfacing can tighten skin, usually better than any other skin-tightening procedure. It can also diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots on the skin, such as age spots. The tradeoff is that it requires downtime and has a greater risk of possible side effects, such as scarring.

Does non-surgical skin tightening really work? ›

Does it work? The limited amount of research that we have on noninvasive skin tightening treatments would suggest that these treatments do work. While the results are not as dramatic as microdermabrasion, laser therapy, or surgical methods, these studies indicate that people do experience tighter skin.

What is the newest skin tightening procedure? ›

Microneedling creates micro-punctures in the skin to signal the body to heal and rejuvenate the area, while radiofrequency energy heats the skin to prompt collagen production and stimulate skin tightening. The combination procedure tightens the jawline and upper neck by reducing mild jowling and crepey neck skin.

Is there a way to tighten skin permanently without surgery? ›

Yes, you can tighten your skin without surgery because there is a range of non-invasive skin tightening modalities to choose from. These energy-based devices use radiofrequency, ultrasound, or laser energy to tighten loose skin.

How can I drastically tighten my skin? ›

Here are six ways you can tighten loose skin.
  1. Firming creams. A good choice for a firming cream is one that contains retinoids, says Dr. ...
  2. Supplements. While there's no magic pill to fix loose skin, certain supplements may be helpful. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Lose weight. ...
  5. Massage the area. ...
  6. Cosmetic procedures.

How do you treat saggy jowls at home? ›

Common facial exercises that may help improve jowls include:
  1. Yawning and opening the mouth as far as possible, then closing it very slowly without letting the teeth touch.
  2. Puckering the lips outwards. ...
  3. Blowing the cheeks up as far as comfortable.
  4. Chewing with the head tilted slightly up.
Feb 2, 2018

Which product is best for skin tightening? ›

Best skin tightening creams in India
  1. WishCare Collagen 1% Retinol Body Lotion - Skin Tightening & Firming - With Niacinamide. ...
  2. Mamaearth Bye Bye Face Cream, For Pore Tightening with Rosehip & Niacinamide. ...
  3. DermDoc by Purplle Skin Tightening Face Gel with Hydrolyzed Collagen.

How long do skin tightening results last? ›

How long does radio frequency skin tightening last? Your skin is always aging. But with proper skin care, the effects of radio frequency skin tightening may last for one to three years.

What vitamin deficiency causes sagging skin? ›

How vitamin D deficiency leads to accelerated skin aging isn't fully understood. However, some experts suspect it has something to do with vitamin D's protective and antioxidant properties on the skin.

What is the best skin tightening procedure for 2023? ›

Ultherapy is the ultimate Gold-Standard treatment when it comes to lifting and tightening skin. It is a market-leading collagen booster that uses precise micro-focused ultrasound technology.

Is there anything better than Ultherapy? ›

Thermage is better for patients who care more about addressing the texture and quality of sagging skin. It has the power to tackle problematic issues like cellulite or drooping fat thanks to its emphasis on contouring. However, Ultherapy is generally more effective when it comes to stimulating deeper skin layers.

Is 65 too old for Ultherapy? ›

Never Too Old for Ulthera

In fact, a person with healthy skin in her 60s may respond better to Ulthera than a smoker or sun bather in her 40s or 50s. Smoking and sun damage both weaken skin elasticity, compromising Ulthera results.

Can loose skin become tight again? ›

With a slower, more gradual weight loss, it's easier for a person's skin elasticity to sort of snap back into place, shrinking back down as the fat is lost. But when too much is lost too fast, the skin's elasticity doesn't have time to catch up. To get rid of the loose skin, exercise helps, a little.

What is the best treatment for sagging neck and jowls? ›

Neck lift surgery (platysmaplasty) is the most effective, but also most invasive, treatment for jowls. It may be the only option available to patients with severe jowls or substantial laxity.

Can you make loose skin tighten again? ›

Regular exercise, including cardio and strength training, will help you maintain your weight and tone your body. It also may help your skin look tighter. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about extra skin.

How can I fix my saggy face without surgery? ›

Non-Invasive Facial Skin Tightening Procedures
  1. MINT PDO Thread Face Lift.
  2. Dermal fillers.
  3. Profhilo.
  4. Ultrasound treatments, such as ultherapy.
  5. Chemical skin peels.
  6. Microneedling.
  7. The Nefertiti Lift.
  8. Endolift®
Sep 3, 2021

How much does Ultherapy cost? ›

Ultherapy prices can vary depending on the areas being treated; however, for a face treatment, you can expect your Ultherapy sessions to cost about $3,500 total. If you add an aggressive full neck session, that will cost an extra $1000.

Does Microneedling tighten skin? ›

Microneedling is a popular beauty trend, creating smooth, glowing skin without the pain or downtime of more aggressive procedures. Adding radiofrequency to this popular treatment enhances its ability to tighten and firm lax skin, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin texture.

Can you reverse sagging jowls? ›

There are several options for treating sagging jowls or reducing how saggy or droopy they appear. Surgical procedures, such as neck lifts, can tighten your skin and make it look less saggy. Nonsurgical procedures, such as thermage, lasers, and peels, can change the composition of the collagen in your skin.

How do you get rid of heavy jowls? ›

How to Get Rid of Jowls
  1. Profound lift. “This treatment tightens the skin. ...
  2. Radiesse and other hyaluronic acid fillers. Dr. ...
  3. Sculptra. Another collagen stimulator, Sculptra, can also benefit patients with jowls, said Dr. ...
  4. Fractional CO2 laser therapy. For some patients, Dr. ...
  5. Thread lift. Dr.
Aug 18, 2021

How do you get rid of deep jowls? ›

When it comes to treating jowls, injectable options like dermal fillers are ideal for restoring facial volume, while ultrasound treatments like Ultherapy are effective when it comes to stimulating the growth of new collagen supplies to directly reduce the sagging effect of jowls.

What is the number one face tightening cream? ›

Best Overall for Face: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Niacinamide supports skin cell turnover and fortifies the skin barrier, while peptides (which are amino acid chains that help build proteins) work to firm skin.

What do the Kardashians use for skin tightening? ›

Under the care of Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, whom Kardashian has seen for a variety of cosmetic procedures, the Kardashians star had her skin tightened using the Morpheus8 microneedling tool.

What is the estimated price for skin tightening? ›

How much does skin rejuvenation and resurfacing cost? The average cost of intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment is $412 and the average cost of nonsurgical skin tightening is $2,456, according to the most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Do any skin tightening creams work? ›

Firming creams with dermatologist-supported ingredients like retinol, peptides, and caffeine can certainly support the firmness of the skin, but don't expect a dramatic before-and-after (especially if you're using a firming cream to treat the appearance of cellulite).

What age should you start skin tightening? ›

While there is no rule against starting this treatment in your 20's at the first signs of skin laxity, our patients typically tend to range in age from 30 to 65. Ideally, you will want to start treatment before significant collagen loss has taken place, but successful results can still be achieved later in life.

Is there a vitamin that tightens skin? ›

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage and plays a role in the production of collagen, which helps keep skin firm and elastic. Particularly in topical applications, Vitamin C has been shown to decrease skin wrinkling and increase collagen production.

What vitamin tightens Crepey skin? ›

To try and reduce the chances of developing crepey skin, it is essential to include the following in a balanced diet:
  • antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocophenols, and flavonoids.
  • vitamins A, C, D, and E.
  • omega-3 fatty acids.

How can I tighten my skin after 60? ›

In this article, we discuss popular techniques for tightening loose skin and ways to prevent the skin from sagging.
  1. Exercise. Share on Pinterest Regular exercise may help skin age well. ...
  2. Firming products. ...
  3. Supplements. ...
  4. Massage. ...
  5. Nonsurgical procedures. ...
  6. Minimally invasive procedures.
Oct 3, 2019

What is the best non surgical facelift for jowls? ›

Ultherapy is the number one treatment for jowls and is FDA approved meaning it is clinically proven to lift the face. Ultherapy uses micro-focused ultrasound to create micro-wounds into the deep tissues (SMAS) of skin.

What is Morpheus skin tightening? ›

Morpheus8 is a microneedling device that utilizes radiofrequency energy to remodel and contour the face and body via subdermal adipose remodeling. This fractional treatment penetrates deep into the skin and fat for a smoother and sleeker appearance.

How often should you get skin tightening? ›

Patients who have serious skin laxity should have regular treatment appointments every three months, while patients who have mild or moderate skin laxity may benefit from treatments spaced four months apart.

What is the disadvantage of Ultherapy? ›

There have been some rare reports of nerve damage, eye damage, and disfigurement following procedure. This is why it is important to only choose experienced practitioners when making the decision to get Ultherapy.

What damage can Ultherapy go wrong? ›

Ultherapy Side Effects

Muscle deterioration. Scarring. Fat atrophy that can result in a sunken facial appearance. Vision loss.

What are the cons to Ultherapy? ›

Ultherapy: Weigh the Pros and Cons of Non-Surgical Skin...
  • Pro: Treatment is Quick. Surgery is a fairly lengthy time commitment. ...
  • Pro: Minimal Discomfort. ...
  • Pro: No Downtime. ...
  • Pro: Results Are Long-Lasting. ...
  • Con: Take Time to See Final Results. ...
  • Con: Not Effective on Significant Sagging.
Sep 21, 2017

How many years does Ultherapy take off your face? ›

The results of Ultherapy tend to last around two years but they can last longer if you take steps to boost your collagen production and keep your existing collagen healthy. To discover if this non-invasive facelift is right for you, please reach out to the office of Ingrid E.

Can Ultherapy go wrong? ›

Ulthera acknowledges that scarring can occur, but maintains that it is caused by incorrect technique of the physician performing the procedure. Ultherapy has also been found to cause fat atrophy, resulting in a sagging, sunken, “skeletal” appearance.

How much younger does Ultherapy make you look? ›

The heat from this ultrasound energy stimulates your body's production of collagen and elastin. The result is tight, smooth skin that looks five years younger than it did before treatment.

How do you get rid of an apron belly without surgery? ›

4 Tips for Getting Rid of Your Apron Belly
  1. Exercise Regularly: One of the most effective ways to reduce an apron belly is to exercise regularly. ...
  2. Focus on Your Core: Besides overall exercise, focusing on your core muscles is essential. ...
  3. Eat a Healthy Diet: Your diet can also play a role in reducing an apron belly.

Can you lose hanging belly fat without surgery? ›

CoolSculpting is one of the most popular non-invasive fat reduction treatments available. Why? Because it has proven to be extremely effective in permanently destroying belly fat.

Can you lose 150 pounds without loose skin? ›

Maintaining muscle mass is important to prevent loose, sagging skin after losing 150 pounds without surgery. It is also beneficial to build muscle through hypertrophy training to fill out the loose skin that can come as a result of weight loss.

What is the best procedure for sagging jowls 2023? ›

Best procedure for sagging jowls in 2023

Considered one of the best non surgical facelift options, NovaThreads use absorbable sutures to lift and tighten the skin to improve facial aging concerns, like sagging jowls and droopy skin, resulting in a noticeably younger appearance.

What is a jowl lift? ›

A lower face lift, sometimes called a jowl lift, is a surgical procedure that improves the appearance of the lower face by removing excess skin and various toning up of underlying muscles. The surgery aims to create a more youthful appearance by restoring the face's natural contours.

What is the Nefertiti lift? ›

A Nefertiti Lift is a non-invasive procedure wherein tiny amounts of botulinum toxin type A are injected into the muscles in your neck, specifically the ones that run vertically from the bottom of the face to your collarbone, creating a downward pull on your jawline.

What is the best non surgical treatment for loose skin on the stomach? ›

If you're not interested in surgery, skin tightening with BodyTite or Renuvion is a great alternative to achieve tummy tuck-like results. Radio Frequency Assisted Lipolysis (RFAL, among others the brands BodyTite and Renuvion) is a powerful and proven method to tighten and lift loose skin.

Can you tighten loose skin in face without a surgery? ›

Ultherapy. Ultherapy is a non-surgical ultrasound treatment that stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin deep within the skin. Non-invasive and requiring just a topical anaesthetic cream, it is used to tighten and smooth skin on the upper and lower face, the neck and the décolletage.

How can I tighten my skin after weight loss without surgery? ›

Collagen supplementation has been shown to improve elasticity and help decrease the amount of excess tissue without the need for surgery or liposuction. If you are looking for how to tighten loose skin on your arms naturally or how to get rid of saggy belly skin, then collagen supplements are a great choice.


1. How To Tighten Loose Skin! | Non-Surgical/Minimally Invasive Skin Tightening | Johns Creek
(Dr. Myla Bennett Powell)
2. Here's How You Can Enhance the Jawline Without a Neck Lift | American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
(American Board of Cosmetic Surgery)
3. Surgical and non-surgical cosmetic options for great looking legs
(Sisterhood of the Scalpel)
4. A Cosmetic Surgeons’ Favorite Options to Tighten Skin & Level-Up Liposuction Results
(American Board of Cosmetic Surgery)
5. Dr. Tansavatdi: Skin Tightening and Non-Surgical Facelift Using RF Technology
(Tansavatdi Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery)
6. TempSure Envi - Non-Surgical Skin Tightening for Crow's Feet
(Rejuva Medical Aesthetics)


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