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Thermage: Microwaving Your Ass and Other Body Parts "To Achieve Optimal Body Tightening"

Butt cheeks sagging? Zap them with the new Thermage 16.0 "laser," says a local skin doctor.

It seems people will do just about anything for the chance of looking a few years, or even months, younger -- getting sliced up in surgery, injecting poison under the skin or being shot with laser beams. While nothing new to skin-care addicts, we were surprised to learn about the popular treatment of "Thermage," which heats up and tightens your skin.

Scottsdale doc Susan Van Dyke (pictured below) put out a news release today touting her Thermage upgrade. Though her marketing people call it a "laser," Thermage actually uses radio waves to do the trick. (Or not do it -- the treatment isn't guaranteed to work on everyone).

A 2006 New York Times article says that Thermage really took off in 2003, after it was featured on Oprah Winfrey. According to the article, the treatment has reportedly produced burns and other problems in a handful of patients.

Most people don't seem to be harmed by it, but to the uninitiated, a Thermage treatment sounds somewhat daunting. The company's Web site calls it "natural tightening from the inside out," which reminds us of an edition of Tales from the Crypt.

Thermage is also in the news today because the company that makes the product, Thermage Inc., just bought another company and will now be known as Solta Medical Inc. A Wall Street Journal article about the name change says that the industry of luxury skin treatments like Thermage is suffering during the economic downturn as consumers forego the expensive, optional treatments, causing doctors to delay buying the expensive equipment needed to do them.

Like the economy, future Thermage patients are just dragging ass. 

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.