Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Who Is a Good Candidate for Skin Tightening?
Broadly speaking, a good skin tightening candidate is within 30% of their ideal weight, in good medical condition, and a non-smoker. These are the same requirements as for liposuction – a procedure that skin tightening is often paired with. Below our experienced staff at NuBody Concepts Cosmetic Surgery in Nashville and Memphis explains which specific factors help you determine whether you are an ideal candidate for radio frequency assisted lipolysis (aka skin tightening).
How to Determine if You Qualify for Skin Tightening
Skin tightening is a procedure you will undergo after you have attained a weight that is fairly close to your ideal or target weight. You will typically want to pair it with liposuction to remove excess fat before tightening the skin.
If you are well above your ideal weight, you will not achieve the best results with skin tightening. But how do you know your ideal weight for skin tightening to be effective?
Start with your Body Mass Index (BMI). Calculating your BMI gives you a good approximation of whether you are ready for liposuction, radio frequency assisted lipolysis (RFAL), or a combination of both. Using your height and your weight, calculate your BMI and then look up the recommended course of action in the chart below:
Your Ideal Weight
Patients with a BMI greater than 35 are over 3 times more susceptible for complications than patients in the normal weight range. These could result in problems with anesthesia recovery, poor wound healing, or even stroke. This demonstrated higher risk is why most cosmetic surgeons will not perform an elective procedure on a patient with a 35+ BMI – even though there might be a small number of exceptions.
Since you cannot change your height, the only way to get closer to the target weight recommended for skin tightening is to shed those extra pounds – whether it is with rigorous diet and exercise or with the help of a weight-loss balloon.
However, calculating your BMI does not absolve you of needing a personal consultation with your plastic surgeon before undergoing a procedure. There are other risk factors the doctor will want to establish in a meeting prior to surgery – even if it is a virtual meeting.
Your Medical Clearance
Any surgery poses risks, no matter how minimally-invasive. This is why prior to your skin tightening procedure your plastic surgeon will go over your medical history to determine your risk factors to ensure that you can be cleared for surgery. Even otherwise healthy candidates may have an underlying condition that disqualifies them. Your personal consultation will be a good time and place to go over your history. Asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure are some of the warning flags a plastic surgeon will be looking for.
Another warning flag your surgeon will be looking for is whether you’ve smoked in the past or are still a smoker. Smoking is strongly discouraged as it is detrimental to your health, but if you do smoke, you need to disclose it, or you put yourself at risk of infection or other surgical complications and even life-threatening lung or heart issues.
If you take any kind of heart medication such as blood thinners, this also needs to be disclosed. It doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from the procedure, but your plastic surgeon will typically need to get a clearance letter from your cardiologist before he or she can proceed.
Your Skin Elasticity
Skin tightening procedures such as BodyTite and Renuvion can do wonders to tighten flabby and sagging skin, up to a point. BodyTite has shown skin contraction of 35-45%, and Renuvion – which uses helium plasma to achieve higher, more targeted heat – can achieve up to 60% skin contraction. That is a fantastic result for a non-surgical procedure.
However, if you have too much sagging skin, skin tightening won’t be able to flatten the area enough. In this case, you will still be left with folds and wrinkles. Skin that has lost its elasticity due to aging, pregnancy & childbirth, weight loss, or a combination, has often stretched too far to be brought back with non-surgical skin tightening.
Younger patients and women who have not undergone pregnancy tend to have more elastic skin that springs right back to its shape. In this case, you might even get away with liposuction alone, although adding either BodyTite or Renuvion to your procedure typically improves the results.
Your plastic surgeon will be able to advise you whether skin tightening will give you the results that you want, or whether you are better off with surgery such as tummy tuck, arm lift, or thigh lift.
Removing Cellulite with Skin Tightening
Cellulite is what we call skin that has an orange peel-like texture – bumpy and uneven. It affects women to a greater degree than men, and it most often manifests on thighs and buttocks. While true cellulite cannot really be “healed” or removed, you do have options to improve the appearance of cellulite. That is where skin tightening is showing great promise. The targeted heat applied to the tissues beneath the skin targets the bands that hold down the skin so that it can “spring back,” much like a quilt would lose its seams that hold down the batting.
Many women in particular complain about cellulite when the true culprit is age-related skin laxity. As we get older, our skin does not generate the same amount of collagen as it did when young, so that it takes longer to regenerate. This can produce the same look as cellulite, particularly on the outer thighs. Minimally-invasive skin tightening can achieve a much improved look for such patients.
See the fantastic results below on a good candidate for skin tightening to reduce cellulite:
Female vs Male Candidates for Skin Tightening
Skin tightening works for male and female patients alike, but there are some differences.
The aforementioned effect on cellulite mostly benefits women rather than men, because men are affected by cellulite to a much smaller degree.
Men, however, can benefit from skin tightening in different areas than women. For instance, skin tightening is often used in male breast reductions to treat gynecomastia or enlarged male breasts. The gland can be removed surgically with a relatively small incision around the areola. But to achieve the best results, skin tightening is often recommended to give the chest a taut, masculine look.
Radio frequency assisted lipolysis (another name for skin tightening) is often combined with liposuction to achieve the best results. Again, this might be more beneficial for women who tend to have higher proportions of subcutaneous fat. This is the fat that responds well to liposuction. Men tend to have higher proportions of visceral fat. This is the fat that is not responsive to liposuction. Skin tightening without liposuction is not very effective. If you are a male skin tightening candidate, make sure you consult with a plastic surgeon to determine which kind of fat you have.
Best Age for Skin Tightening
At NuBody Concepts, we require patients for any procedure to be at least 18 years of age. Beyond that, there is no ideal age for skin tightening. If you have a healthy lifestyle, realistic expectations, a BMI within the recommended range, and are medically cleared for surgery, you qualify for skin tightening – or any other minimally-invasive or surgical procedure.
Again, skin loses elasticity over time. The older you get, or the more you’ve stretched out your skin, the more difficult it is going to be to give it that taut, younger look we all desire. A consultation with your plastic surgeon is a great way to find out where you fall on the spectrum.
You might also want to hold off on a skin tightening procedure if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future. The procedure itself is safe and will not affect your ability to become pregnant. However, you may want to save it for later until after your skin has been stretched and shrunk back, so that you can see which treatment plan is best for you.
We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding about the ideal skin tightening candidate. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.
If you are ready to get started, use the pink button to schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis.