Exilis Review: Exilis for Skin Tightening
Why Exilis? Why Not?
A Groupon came my way, offering two Exilis treatments for a ridiculously low price. The "catch" was that the treatments were for two areas, to be treated at the same appointment. I assumed that the med-spa would attempt to upsell me, but since I'd done some homework on Exilis and decided that it was the best option for me, I wasn't too worried. In fact, I went in to my appointment hoping that I would be offered a great package deal for more treatments.
About two years ago, I tried a different type of skin tightening treatment called SkinTyte. It worked very well, was not painful or terribly uncomfortable. It did not, however, offer any sort of fat reduction. This was what led me to Exilis, which promised to do some targeted fat reduction. I was most interested in treating my neck, an area with a stubborn pocket of fat that I've had since I was a young child. Would Exilis be my answer?
A nurse practitioner came out to greet me in the waiting room of the med-spa. After going over the usual medical forms and signing a number of consent and liability releases, I was ushered into another room where I was met by two more nurses. The registered nurse, RN, would be doing my treatments.
The coupon I had was explained to me: I could get two areas treated that day and either two skin tightening or two fat reduction treatments. Since I was getting my face and neck treated, it was explained that the face was made up of multiple areas: eyes, cheeks (midface,) mouth, jowls and forehead. The neck was a separate area as well. "What's your biggest concern today, and does it involve either skin tightening or fat reduction?" asked the nurse/salesperson.
Since I had the coupon, I could apply that as part of the med-spa's ongoing "buy 3 get 1 free" deal. In other words, it would count as one purchase so I'd only have to pay for 2 more to get the "1 free" part of the deal. I'd also get a "special" discount, plus a "package" discount. I could add more areas for $100 each for skin tightening, and $100 for each area for fat reduction. It was getting very expensive in spite of all the "discounts."
According to the nurse/salesperson, I'd need 4 treatments minimum to get results for skin tightening or for fat reduction. Each treatment needed to be spaced 7-14 days apart, so it took some dedication to see the process through. I mentioned that I'd had good results with Skin Tyte, and that I thought I'd see good results with Exilis, but I wondered how the fat reduction worked.
The nurse explained that for fat reduction, Exilis worked by using radio frequency to heat up the treatment area to a depth of about 3 centimeters, as opposed to about 1 centimeter for skin tightening. The heat generated by the treatments worked to shrink fat cells. But, said the RN, "People who follow the protocol get the best results. I can always tell who follows the protocol and who doesn't." The protocol, apparently, is that you must drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, and refrain from drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
I asked if I'd see tightening as a side effect of fat reduction. No, the nurse/salesperson said. I'd need to get a minimum of 4 fat reduction treatments and a minimum of 4 skin tightening treatments in order to see "good results" for both fat reduction and skin tightening.This didn't make a lot of sense to me, but she explained that it had to do with "different energy settings" used between the two.
In the end, I opted to just get skin tightening on my eyes, jowls and neck, for $1300 total, which included what I'd already paid to buy the Groupon. The amount would cover 4 treatment sessions, doing the 3 areas each session. I'd leave fat reduction for another time when I had a lot more money. I didn't see the point in getting just fat reduction if my skin would still be saggy.
How Exilis Works
My Next Treatment
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After reading the (very confusing) quote and deciding to focus on skin tightening for my three problem areas, I was ushered into a treatment room. It was a typical med-spa type of room with low lights, pleasant music and a big Exilis machine that was humming loudly.
The RN began by placing a "ground" on my back. This was to dissipate any potential energy generated by the treatment so that I wouldn't get shocked. I was told to simply lie back on the comfy treatment bed and let the RN know if the paddle-type instrument delivering the Exilis treatment was getting too hot. I was also told to not pull away from the instrument at any time, even if it suddenly got hot. When I asked what would happen if I pulled away, I was told that I could get a small zap that could cause a blister.
The RN worked section by section, first smoothing conductive gel on an area and then running the Exilis paddle over it. The sensation was not unpleasant, but it did get warm. The system is programmed to deliver energy for 30 seconds at a time and then switch off. The practitioner must hit a button to start up the next cycle each time. This is a good fail-safe in that it helped to ensure that the treatment didn't get overly hot. The one time that I felt too much heat and instinctively pulled back a bit, I did get a small arc of energy between my face and the paddle. It felt like a zap of static electricity, but did not leave a blister or any type of mark.
According to the RN treating me, the goal was to get my skin temperature up to between 42 and 44 degrees Celsius. Each 30 second energy cycle warmed the area treated up bit by bit. It took about 7 cycles per section being treated to achieve the desired temperature.
All total, it took an hour to treat 3 areas. The hardest part for me was tolerating someone touching my face and neck, something that I really don't like, but it was not unpleasant.
The Drs: Exilis for Firming
A week later, I got my second treatment. Again, all three areas were treated. This time, the RN worked to get the areas heated up "as quickly as possible." What I noticed was that the treatment paddle was hot immediately, and that I had to ask the RN to pause during the very first 30 second cycle. The RN made a careful effort to ensure that the conductive gel didn't thin out too quickly. I did get zapped once during the second treatment. A small mini blister formed later in the day, and was gone in less than 48 hours.
I'd read that results could be seen after two Exilis treatments, but I didn't notice any changes at all. My third treatment was scheduled 14 days later, and I'd hoped that I'd see some improvements, but unfortunately there were none during this time. This was perhaps the biggest difference between Exilis and SkinTyte that I experienced. With SkinTyte, I saw immediate improvements after each treatment, and they got progressively better over time. With Exilis, I saw no immediate improvements.
This is when things got interesting. It was about 21 days from the very first treatment. The skin on my treated areas seemed less rough. My eyes especially seemed to be more youthful in that the skin had a tad more elasticity. The RN noticed as well, commenting that I must have been following the treatment protocol of lots of water and no alcohol or caffeine.
The actual treatment was much like the last, with the paddle being very hot from the outset. I had to ask the RN to pause during each cycle. Mindful of the mini blister I'd gotten the last time, I found myself flinching more. The RN reminded me to not pull away, and that she'd be happy to pause at any time if I felt uncomfortable.
And yet, the results after the third treatment and going into the fourth were not amazing or mind blowing in any way. The changes were mostly subtle and had more to do with skin texture than anything else, although my eyelids were definitely less hooded in appearance.
I had a lunch date with a friend, someone I knew would comment if she noticed that I'd done anything to my skin. Sure enough, she remarked that my eyes seemed more open. "What'd you do?" she demanded. I told her about Exilis, the Groupon, the three areas I was getting treated, and the cost. She nodded wisely and said, "Totally and completely worth it. But...couldn't you have gone for the fat reduction for you neck?" Best friends don't hold back.
I should have gone with fat reduction. At least, that's what I keep obsessing over. Maybe I should have used Exilis for fat reduction followed by SkinTyte to tighten the skin. I already knew that SkinTyte worked well for me in the past, and I probably should have stuck with a treatment that I knew would work exceptionally well. The other problem I discovered was that by treating only certain areas of my face, I felt that the improvements in skin laxity that I did achieve were not as noticeable as they could be. In other words, parts of my face are still saggy, though my jawline, eyes and neck look great! If I could rewind the clock, I'd opt to do skin tightening on my full face, eyes and neck. Exilis worked very, very well on my eyes - a treatment that was never offered to me when I had SkinTyte - so overall I'm happy with what I paid and the results that I got.
From a different viewpoint, I learned something about my medspa - it has a limited number of treatment options for treating aging skin. There are other medspas nearby that have more choices, more non-invasive technologies to choose from. And, since I live in an area of Southern California that is fairly teeming with aging actors, I also have lots of aesthetic dermatologists to choose from. While I may still go back for a round of fat reduction on my neck using Exilis, next time I will do a little more shopping around, and not be swayed by those tempting Groupons.
One Year Exilis Update
Exilis mostly worked for me, and lasted about a year before I noticed my skin returning to its former self. I had another round of Exilis done, and this time I had only three treatments. I was told that the "energy level of the machine" had been increased somehow, such that three treatments gave good results. Once again, I did my eyes, jowls and neck, and added my cheeks to treat the nasolabial folds.
Some interesting differences from this year's Exilis from a year ago: 1. The heat from the treatment paddles did not seem to bother me at all. It was very comfortable and I didn't pull away at any time; 2. The technician who treated me was not an RN. She had some sort of 2 year degree, but was not a nurse, rather, there was one RN who provided oversight to the trained technicians, and one medical doctor who oversaw the clinic as a whole. I thought the technician who treated me did a competent and thorough job; 3. The treatment time was much longer than before. It seemed to take longer to reach the required skin temperature, so it took a significant time commitment. Treating four areas took a solid 2 hours.
I remain satisfied with my Exilis experience, and feel fortunate that I live in a part of Southern California where I have a plethora of treatment choices at a wide price range. If you're interested in exploring your options, I suggest checking with your dermatologist first, to get a good medical opinion.
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