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Pellevé skin tightening system

Pellevé treatment part 1
August 8, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 40 Comments

Yesterday morning I had a procedure called the Pellevé skin tightening system at the posh (but pleasantly so) Upper East Side practice of Dr. Z Paul Lorenc. It was a fascinating and extremely enjoyable experience (largely due to my smart and funny practitioner, Carissa McCormack). And this non-invasive treatment may even work over time to produce new collagen. Before I tell you more about my experience and the immediate results, I’ll give you some background on Pellevé.

Pellevé Vs. Thermage

The Pellevé Wrinkle Reduction System is, at least according to its manufacturer, the next-generation high frequency radiowave technology.  One way of thinking about Pellevé -- given FDA clearance in May 2009 -- is that it is the next Thermage. By which I mean that it isn’t at all painful (actress Ellen Barkin described Thermage as having burning hot elastic bands snapped across your face) and it might actually work (patients and doctors alike complained that Thermage’s results were inconsistent and disappointing).

Essentially, Thermage and Pellevé work in the same way by delivering gradual energy to the skin, causing heat to build up where the skin and fat layer come together. The increasing heat modifies the collagen bundles deep inside the skin. This part of the process is called denaturation, which means the loss of structure of a protein (collagen is a chain of proteins) due to, amongst other things, the application of heat.

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The denaturation of collagen fibers causes them to contract and, because they believe they are undergoing a trauma, they start stimulating the growth of new collagen, This results in firmer, tighter skin.

The advance that Pellevé has made over older systems such as Themage is that the tightening results can be achieved without the searing temperatures used back in the day. According to Carissa McCormack, the denaturation takes place at about 41°C (10 years ago the accepted wisdom was that 65 degrees were required)

For me, this was mostly comfortable. During the Pellevé treatment, Carissa moved the tip of a "wand" over my face with a firm, but not deep pressure. She seemed to be passing several times over the same spot before moving on. By the third pass, I could feel things getting very warm and by the end of the nearly hour-long session I felt as if I’d been sitting in the sun a bit too long. But there was no ouch factor and although I looked a little flushed, I was good to go.

I am not supposed to see any results from the Pellevé skin tighetning for about three months, by which time new collagen should be formed. However, there is certainly some immediate gratification in that my skin feels very much firmer and really looks plumper – more so than I would get from microcurrent or LED.  The effects are supposed to be fairly long lasting – about 18 months. The reason for Pellevé's effectiveness appears to be that it is not the same as stimulating collagen to fill in superficial scars or wrinkles, but a deeper shift in tissue volumes, leading to what one fairly technical paper described as "a remodeling of the entire soft tissue envelope.”

The effects of heating collagen have been known for many years and, based on all the reading I have done, I am fairly confident that I am going to see real results from my Pellevé treatment. The only slightly disquietening thing is that one researcher points out that the "long-term biologic fate of these shrunken tissues is still a matter of debate”.

The cost of Pellevé will depend very much on what part of the country you are in. In pricey Manhatten, it can be from $750 to $1500.  My session at Dr. Lorenc’s clinic was generously free and Carissa McCormack even more generously offered me the recommended top up treatment in 30 days. I will go back in 30 days, but will pay my way, as the litmus test for recommending anything is whether I would pay for it myself.

Read on for Pellevé session number two and then here for the final Pellevé outcome

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  • September 18, 2015

    by Rose

    Painfree my foot. This hurt like heck. Maybe if I had expected it to be so searing hot I wouldn't have reacted so much but wow...it was painful. Perhaps some have a lower tolerance? I think just blightly claiming this is painless for all is vastly misleading. I can't do it again. I have had fillers and felt discomfort but not this kind of pain. It needs to be said that some people react badly to it!

    Now I understand 40 degrees C isn't hot enough to burn skin in the few seconds it is on the skin and my nurse practitioner was careful to check temps consistently so it was my perception of the heat...I am not claiming it was done poorly or wrong at all. Rather I just feel that clearly a few feel it more intensely and people should be aware that it is NOT ALWAYS painfree.

  • September 18, 2013

    by Imogen

    I have just had my 2nd Pelleve treatment (full face) and I can certainly see results. Overall my face looks much fresher, especially around eyes and jowls have definitely tightened. I actually found the treatment to be quite pleasant, rather like a warm face massage. The doctor did 10 passes. I am due to have my final treatment in 4 weeks.

  • August 9, 2013

    by Susan Bennett

    May 2012, I had one Pelleve treatment at Spago in Punta Gorda, Fla. I received second degree burns, I was was shrink wraped and one year later, I still take Lyrica for temple nerve damage. It has been a nightmare. I have pictures and doctor reports. If any one has had a similar experiene, please contact me at sbennett445@hotmail.com

  • December 8, 2012

    by maria

    hi! I had 2 sessions of IPL. The first went well and I noticed good results after a few weeks. A month after the first, I had a second session, then a month after that I noticed deep grooves around my eyes that were definitely not there before! I remember she did place the wand around my eyes at times to treat some brown spots there. Is it possible that the fat was removed, as with Thermage?? It seems my whole face is a bit thinner and i didn't need that at all. I'm 49 and have taken really good care of my skin since age 21 so I'm so disappointed. I'm hoping by some chance this will turn around. I'm reading a lot of stories online of women with similar problems with IPL - but the MDs all say that IPL doesn't go deep enough to cause these problems. I'm using Psoria Gold because it's recommended and uses turmeric, a potent antiinflammatory, and I do like it. Any feedback please???
    Thank you!

  • June 18, 2012

    by Jane e

    I have had three Pelleve treatments so far and am about to get my forth and last one in a week.

    After reading so many other reviews and being assured there was
    NO pain" I was unpleasently surprised at how HOT it was and how much it hurt.

    There were several times during each treatment that I was in pain, although not thre entire treatment - mostly when the heat when over the thiner skin areas and bone.

    No one has mentioned that you can get a little static shock occasionally too.

    AND YES the first day or two the swelling makes it look as if you have better results...after three treatments and almost 4 months I cannot say I would do it again. Results are just not dramatic enough for the pain and expense

  • April 10, 2011

    by Marta

    Thank you Kim for sharing your experiences. Shame about Ulthera. I went to a press conference when it launched and it seemed as if there is a good team behind it. The loss of feeling afterward and pain during treatment is enough for me to pass on this. I had my second Pelleve treatment in January, it wasn't painful, no bad side effects and I am sure that I can see positive effects of it to this day (it has especially filled in the labial nasal lines).

  • April 9, 2011

    by Jina

    Hi Kim
    Excellent and honest report I am also 49 and looking at treating myself for my 50th to either pelleve or the ulthera but waiting on others feedback before seeing any docs. What have you heard about pelleve I would be interested to hear your insight if your involved in the industry. Still trying to figure out which led light to go with. Dpl or the aurora. With the dpl you get more coverage and strength per square cm but it does cost double. What may your opinion be on led light therapy. But I do agree with Marta so far micro current is ten way to go no nasties just excellent cummaltive results. Sorry forgive spell errors mult tasking cooking with my new pressure cooker because I do believe what you food your body will result in better results even if you use a cheap moisturizer from drug.

  • April 9, 2011

    by Kim

    and excuse the typos - pretty sleepy here.

  • April 9, 2011

    by Kim

    pss: I'm 48.

  • April 9, 2011

    by Kim

    ps: the effects for Ulthera are said to last up to about a year. I DO really like this for browlift and am not sure why this particular area is so changed by this treatments versus the rest of the face. Of course, the browlift also results in eyes being more open.

  • April 9, 2011

    by Kim

    Hello,
    Over the years, I've had many treatments. I am also an ex-scientist, so I have been quite thorough researching these procedures. First, I see Thermage mentioned often here on this site. Remember, that it was actually found that Thermage removed fat in one's face, and unless that is your problem, you most definitely do NOT want that.

    I have gone to MANY consultations (and paid for them) in an effort to find the most knowledgeable docs and most effective procedures, bang for my buck, here in the Bay Area, actually even traveling to SoCal, as well. It turns out, if you have the time to be down, then Total FX, Deep FX (CO2) is the most effective treatment. I had that done and there's nothing else like it. It simply covers more percentage of the skin than Fraxel or any other device of its kind. It's as simple as that. The Catch 22 is that, because of the downtime, people are opting for Fraxel and other devices which cover a smaller percentage of skin, thus allowing for quicker recovery, but also less dramatic results. This has resulted in many docs getting rid of the FX machines this past year (I have personally spoken with several who have confirmed this), because they can't make the money they do with the lighter procedures such as Fraxel (which still require some downtime). In any event, FX is much the way to go for the most dramatic improvements, barring a full-fledged laser resurfacing, which in any case, you can only have a few of THOSE done, anyway. By the way, something I forgot to mention. I chose to get a prescription for the hard chamber hyperbarics (three visits), to speed healing from Total FX - just FYI - if you can afford that cost - the hyperbaric treatments work, dramatically speeding healing. But, I do NOT mean the soft chambers, which do not even require a license for operation. The hard ones, which require a prescription.

    My latest experiment was Ulthera on full face and neck. Now, mind you, I have high pain threshold, so Active/Deep FX felt 'good' to me. Back to Ulthera. Ulthera, honestly, in many places, did NOT work. AND, it HURTS in many places, and I was on meds. It does state that the biggest improvement is in browlift, and this, indeed, proved true for me. I was disappointed with the jowl and neck. I did not see any improvement there, and they REALLY focused on that. It is recommended that you have a second Ulthera treatment done six months later to optimize effects...if you can afford it. So, for other than browlift, I did not think that Ulthera was worth it. One other thing. I have seen other people quite panicked about this online. You can lose feeling in your face/neck. In fact, I lost all feeling in my chin and neck for three months. I began to wonder if I had nerve damage. At this writing, I can tell you, that I believe it has all returned (I had it done Nov 2010). But, it is possible, I have had some permanent loss of feeling, though, if I have, it's not to an extent that it bothers me, in that I can't truly tell. So, if you have Ulthera done, realize that this is a possibility. I did call Ulthera to let them know they MUST disclose this to candidates. Also, your face will hurt to touch for two to three weeks after. But, for me, it wasn't a pain that really bothered me. I honestly barely noticed it. I could still put my sunblock on without discomfort. No downtime with Ulthera. I did see a rather large difference in the browline being lifted, though. THAT was nice. One thing to remember too, is that you'll see an immediate effect, which is due to, of course, edema and also to the destruction of collagen. Then, it might appear that things go backward, as those effects diminish and you wait for the longer term effects to take place, which the dogma is about four months. I'd have to agree. Hope this helps.

  • March 8, 2011

    by marta

    Hi Samantha, here's my final review of Pelleve - it works! http://truthinaging.com/treatments/pelleve-treatments-tested-and-recommended

  • March 7, 2011

    by Samantha

    Hi Marta,
    I just stumbled upon your post and was wondering what your results were, as a couple months have passed. Very interested in hearing about your thoughts are now and to see if you would recommend this to friends.

  • December 22, 2010

    by marta

    Thanks Bess for sharing this. I'll be interested to hear how you get on. I will go back in January for my second treatment and look forward to exchanging notes with you.

  • December 22, 2010

    by Bess

    Hi Marta, Am catching up on my reading ... I am in a clinical trial that is examining Pelleve. The trial is examining the optimum number of treatments. Once I qualified for the trial and had my first treatment I was randomly selected for a second treatment, which I just had last week (4 weeks apart on the treatments). Like you, I had no discomfort and my face was plumped up for a day. Also, I had Thermage in 2004 and didn't see any visible results. HOWEVER .... my jawline did not slacken as you would have expected it to as I aged into my 50s over the last six years. I consider this a result of the Thermage. Likewise, with the Pelleve .... my expectations are that it will keep the fine lines at bay for a few more years. I'll let you know ... I am to be seen again in January and February and in the meantime am allowed only Vit C topical, sunscreen and moisturizer/eye creams sans any treatment ingredients.

  • December 12, 2010

    by Lori

    Kim
    What is laser genesis? How does it differ from the other laser you mentioned? There are so many different procedures and I'm wondering if many are technically the same thing with a different name. Marta, I'll look forward to your "glossary" of treatments when you find the time... I need to go to my trusted source!

  • December 12, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Kim, thanks so much for the update. Regarding the three treatments that you've had, what was the timing of them? Monthly?

  • December 12, 2010

    by Kim

    Hi,
    I am in the middle of tighten laser for upper face. I told Marta I'd write on it when Im done. I have had 3 treatments so far and so far havent seen much. I will say though they told me not to expect anything for 3 months so I'm only halfway to that. I dont find it really hurts at all. Its just really warm. My eyes swelled a bit the first time but I wasnt worried, Im an esthetician so I knew to expect that and it went down in a day (no one noticed but me) I am also having laser genesis all over once a month and my mother said I looked great..I'll keep you posted. (I am very fair skinned)

  • December 10, 2010

    by catlover2x

    I've had Thermage, IPL and eMatrix treatments in the past. One thing I've been told by the dermatologist is the most of the light-based treatments (laser) work more effectively the lighter your skin is. For instance, laser hair removal is more effective on hair the darker it is. If you want to remove blonde hair, save your money.

    I am extremely pale and genetically prone to jowls, which is part of the reason I went down this path. The theory is that stimulating the collagen to tighten will help minimize the jowls. I had the Thermage first and let me just say, it is incredibly painful. I did not have a driver so couldn't take painkillers so I went with the skin numbing cream. It felt like they were ripping my face off, but when I got up I just had a pleasing pink flush to my face. And it did work for me, over the course of 6 months my jowls did respond to it.

    The IPL I get more for spot stuff and to get a general glow. Usually people tell me I look really great after one of those. I have a few age spots and some red capillaries near my nose. They generally go away after a treatment, but they are persistent and come back. I've given up hoping the IPL will eradicate those, but it does seem to give a general toning. I find this treatment not painful and can take high settings. Again, I look pleasingly flushed after them, nothing more.

    The eMatrix was again rather painful for me and I had to go to a low setting. It's a radio treatment that heats the tissue under the skin. I got hot having the treatment but after the first one, I was on fire the next day. I felt like I had second degree burns. This treatment leaves a matrix (go figure) of tiny scabs that are dark and fall off after about 4 days. I had to go with a lower setting for the second treatment. While I'm not sure I'd do it again, I have to admit it left my pores minimized, my skin smoother and my jowls again responded well.

    Of course, all skins and people are different. All the nurses at the office had the eMatrix so they could describe it to their patients. They all had different opinions on how it felt, how long the scabs lasted and the results.

    Hope this helps and please forgive any technical inaccuracies.

  • December 10, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Laura - I'm interested in the specific results Titan gave you for age spots. I have fair, normal to dry skin, with hormonal and sun-damage spots and have had 3 consults - two with plastic surgeons and one with a dermatologist - and all had different procedures to offer to get rid of them, none of which was Titan. I'd love to know what type of skin you have and what type of practitioner did the work. Thanks.

  • December 9, 2010

    by Laura

    Oh...I forgot to mention....it was very painful...intense heat, felt like I was being stuck with a hot poker (and yes, I paid for this)...all in the name of vanity :)!!!

  • December 9, 2010

    by Laura

    I've had two types of Titan treatments. One was for the upper epidermis which was a series of 3 treatments to get rid of age spots, much like a photo facial but much more effective. My skin became much clearer and can now go without make-up.
    The other series was for the bottom layer which is supposed offer the tightening effect, similar to Thermage but supposed to have better results. (Titan offers 3 types, one for each layer, upper , middle and lower - each one targeting a specific area). I had three of these as well, which was $1,800 and there was absolutely no difference. They did before and after photos and the clinic admitted they saw no change in my skin firmness. That was over 7 months ago and really feel that procedure was a waste of money. I do not want to do injectibles but for the same price I would have had instant results guaranteed. I'm actually going to start with the microcurrent technology early next year. Again, I don't have high expectations but am hopeful and it is a bit cheaper.
    This new one sounds promising but it's a lot of money to try it out. I understand that with everything one can expect different results, but Titan tightening did not work for me.

  • December 9, 2010

    by Carol

    There is a oral/maxillofacial doctor close to my home offering the Pelleve treatment. He charges $1500.00 for two treatments. The second treatment done 6 weeks after the first one.
    He also offers a free consultation to learn about the procedure.
    I hated the shots with Botox and couldn't see that much difference. I'm worried though, it's a lot of money...can't wait to hear your final conclusion. I trust your word more than the "stuff" I'm going to hear from the free consultation.

  • December 9, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Marnie
    I don't personally know of anyone in Denver, but this website provides listings of all types of dermatologists and other practitioners around the country: http://www.dermanetwork.org/procedure/body-jet-liposuction/co/denver

  • December 9, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Mychel, I had it all over the face, jawline and neck.

  • December 9, 2010

    by marta

    Georgia, you are right, Pelleve and Titan seem to work in the same way. I'll try to find out more about Titan and the success rates.

  • December 9, 2010

    by Marta

    Lori, Fraxel is a kind of laser treatment. There is a short description of it and Thermage here: http://truthinaging.com/treatments/fraxel-versus-thermage
    But we should put together a glossary of all these treatments, so thanks for spurring the thought.

  • December 9, 2010

    by Marta

    Hi Maria,
    I met the Ulthera team - who were impressive - and wrote about it here:http://truthinaging.com/treatments/ulthera-ultrasound-treatments
    They did claim that it was a one-off treatment, but I haven't seen a demo or know anyone who has had the treatment. If you do go for it, please let us know how you get on.

  • December 9, 2010

    by maria r. lewan

    Marta,
    I have found a Dr who does Ulthera in my area & will do a consult without the consultation fee, so going for that consult next week. She charges $4000 for the full face & $2000 for the upper or lower face. Since my eyes are my biggest concern, I will likely have the upper done now-my finances will not allow full face & "Santa Claus" is simply not kicking in!!! Wondering how Peleve compares with Ulthera-technology sounds similar, but Ulthera is only 1 treatment.

  • December 9, 2010

    by Georgia

    It sounds like it is similar to Titan... Marta, do you know the similarities and differences? What do you think of Titan?

  • December 9, 2010

    by Arandjel

    Outside the States, this procedure is called Radiage. Just thought I'd add that to your informative article on this very interesting (but not so new) treatment.

  • December 9, 2010

    by mychel

    I understand that this treatment is more for the eye area rather than full face and neck. Did you have it preformed all over your face or only your eye area? Thanks. Mychel

  • December 8, 2010

    by Marylea

    Wow! This sounds amazing! I will absolutely look into this in the Central Florida area. I've been considering injectibles, but i'd much rather go this route if it can help out for up to 18 months. Good point, Susan, on that immediate effect of slight swelling, but anything to give my skinny face some plump will be welcome! Thanks Marta!

  • December 8, 2010

    by Lori

    All these procedures confuse me... Is this at all similar to Fraxel treatments I have heard friends talk about? I'll have to find out where I can obtain it locally, believe it or not it may be covered by my insurance.

  • December 8, 2010

    by Susan

    I can't wait to hear your report.

    I bet the immediate result is simply swelling from the heat, but heh, I would take improvement anywhere I can get it. :-)

  • December 8, 2010

    by Connie

    Great news! Any idea on the cost and number of treatments to get the best tightening result?

  • December 8, 2010

    by Marnie Fuller

    So do you know if anybody in Colorado is doing this treatment? I live in a suburb of Denver.

  • December 8, 2010

    by marta

    The Hayflick Limit applies to the number of times a cell reproduces. So a treatment like laser that forces the cells to reproduce would have an impact. Pelleve works on the collagen fibers, so I am guessing (hoping) its not relevant.

  • December 8, 2010

    by Mark

    Hi Marta -
    this sounds interesting - since this is heating the collagen and 'remodeling' and you can have it performed multiple times, any idea of what effect this might have on the 'hayflick limit', either positive or negative?

  • December 8, 2010

    by kim

    Interesting post! Can't wait to hear more. Thanks Marta.

    Kim

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