Skin has a lot going on beneath the surface. While it may seem like a simple, thin layer of tissue that covers the body from head to toe, it’s actually made up of several layers, each composed of and containing a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, and other essentials. So a phrase like, “ThermiSmooth® at Grand Rapids’ Bengtson Center tightens loose skin to clear away wrinkles” is true, but there is far more to the picture.
As the body’s largest organ, skin can be divided into three parts: the outermost epidermis, the farther down dermis, and the deep subcutis.
The epidermis itself is made up of several layers that are constantly cycling, with special cells called keratinocytes repeatedly creating a new layer that gradually works its way upward over the course of about five weeks. By the time it reaches the surface, this layer is made up of dead cells that provide protection to the layers beneath, but also show the signs of damage skin has endured.
The dermis is responsible for giving skin its flexible structure and support. This layer is full of the proteins collagen and elastin, which work together to create a framework that holds everything in place, but still allows for a range of motion and movement. While these proteins are regularly damaged and destroyed, the skin creates new ones throughout a person’s youth, keeping the skin healthy and pliant. Over time, however, less and less collagen is replaced, which leads to a gradual loss of support in the skin. This reveals itself in small ways, such as wrinkles that appear as skin loses its ability to retain moisture, and in larger ways, as formerly stable facial structures begin to droop and sag.
ThermiSmooth® acts on the second layer, the dermis, by stimulating new collagen growth with ultrasound energy. This energy, when precisely controlled and delivered, generates heat, which triggers something known as neocollagenesis. ThermiSmooth® basically convinces the body to repair a wound.
In the skin, cells called fibroblasts start the collagen-building process when there is an injury in order to repair damage and close any breaches in the surface. Exposed to ultrasound-generated heat, as with ThermiSmooth®, these cells kick into gear. New collagen restores diminished flexibility and provides a framework that, among other benefits, supports hyaluronic acid, a component of healthy skin that holds moisture. Combined, these elements can revitalize an area by increasing the skin’s volume and thickness in a positive way. Wrinkles smooth out, and sagging tissue lifts back into place as it regains the support it needs. Because of this, ThermiSmooth® can be used to address laxity in a variety of areas, including the face. Dr. Brad Bengtson at the Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery in Grand Rapids is developing techniques for ideal application of ThermiSmooth® around the mouth and eyes, and on the forehead and neck. He is also evaluating ThermiSmooth® technology for use at his practice in treating wrinkles and other laxity problems in the skin on the arms and legs, chest and back, abdomen, flanks, thighs, and hips.
The radiofrequency energy delivered by ThermiSmooth® is designed to act on collagen production, leaving other elements in the dermis, including glands and hair follicles, to continue their normal functions. Another device in the Thermi® line is specifically tailored to destroy unwanted sweat glands.
Below the dermis is the cushioning subcutis layer, which holds fat for insulation and use in case the body needs energy from the stores there.
All three layers work in harmony to make the skin that keeps bacteria and debris away from our internal organs, acts as a barrier against the elements, and helps people navigate the world around them by relaying information from nerves found throughout the dermis.
Patients can find more information on skin, collagen, and ThermiSmooth® from Dr. Brad Bengtson’s Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery in Grand Rapids. To request a consultation, call (616) 588-8880 or visit http://www.bengtsoncenter.com and click on “Contact Us.”