Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Thermage Overview

Thermage treatments can actually stimulate collagen growth and tighten the epidermis. See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Image News

When Oprah Winfrey talks about something, some people are bound to pay attention, and Thermage -- a non-surgical medical treatment created to rejuvenate sagging skin -- is no exception. The larger-than-life media mogul has featured Thermage on both on her talk show and in O Magazine in recent years, and as a result, more and more people have shown an interest in the procedure as a means of turning back the clock on the way they look [source: Singer].

Thermage is based on a simple premise: that restoring and stimulating new collagen growth will naturally make the skin look younger. You see, as we age, collagen fibers found beneath the outer layer of our skin -- the epidermis -- eventually loosen and droop [source: Glossary]. To compound matters, the body's ability to make collagen declines as years pass. Genetics, sun exposure and smoking also contribute to collagen's gradual loss of oomph [source: MedicineNet].

During a Thermage procedure, a physician marks the patient's skin with grid lines to use as a guide, and then uses a wand to apply radiofrequency energy to the designated areas. The energy from the Thermage wand heats collagen in the dermis, the skin's lower layers, which makes the collagen fibers contract. This contraction, proponents believe, tightens the epidermis and makes it look smoother [source: Thermage, Miller].

People can use Thermage on the face -- including lips and eyes -- as well as the neck, hands, abdomen, buttocks and knees. The treatment can also combat cellulite-dimpled skin -- the stubborn bane of many women's existence [source: Thermage].

Actress Ellen Barkin told Oprah's O Magazine in July 2007 that she'd been having three Thermage treatments a year for the past three years [source: Monroe]. Read on to find out what she has to say about Thermage's effects and how it feels.