What is Tixel?
Tixel is a treatment for tightening and resurfacing your skin. Tixel uses heat energy to deliver smoother, firmer, and tighter skin.
To get technical for a moment, Tixel is a ‘thermo-mechanical ablative treatment’, where ‘ablative’ basically means ‘removing tissue’. Tixel has three modes:
- Ablative mode. Ablative mode uses heat on the skin to create micro-channels of controlled damage, stimulating your body to produce collagen and rejuvenate the skin. Ablative mode is the most intensive type of Tixel treatment and has the greatest tightening effect.
- Non-ablative mode. Non-ablative mode heats the upper dermis, without heating the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), to create open channels that help transfer serums and creams into the skin. Non-ablative mode is the second-most intensive type of Tixel treatment and is used to treat skin problems such as age spots, acne scarring, and sun damage.
- Open-channel mode. The open-channel mode is the least intensive type of Tixel treatment. Without using needles, it opens channels to help transfer serums and creams into the skin. Open-channel mode is used to improve skin tone and texture.
What does Tixel do?
Compared to some of the sophisticated sorts of technology on the market, which work off radiofrequency energy, or use focused ultrasound, or miniature lightning bolts of ‘plasma’ energy, Tixel is very straightforward. All of these skin-rejuvenating technologies work by creating a trauma in the skin, which stimulates the skin’s own wound-healing process. That means your skin begins to produce not just more collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin strong and flexible, but also the growth factors that assist the formation of new skin tissue, to give you fresher, tighter, smoother skin in the treatment area.
But all Tixel uses to do this is heat. Nothing fancier than that. The main treatment head of the device is 1cm square, and packed into that space are 81 titanium rods with gently pointed ends; there’s also a smaller treatment head with 24 pins for getting into nooks and crannies. The titanium rods are heated up to 400 degrees C, then lightly touched onto the skin to create the necessary trauma.
You may be wondering, ‘Did she really mean 400 degrees C?’ Yes, I did. That’s incredibly hot, searingly hot, so that ‘touch’ on your skin has to be very light and quick in order to create tiny pinpoint burns (rather than, say, permanent branding) on your skin. The point about there being 81 rods is that each hot rod tip creates a channel of damage into the skin, but the fractions of skin between the rod-tips are left intact, which helps the treated skin to heal swiftly.
Does Tixel work?
Yes, Tixel does work. Heat treatment is straightforward and effective; it is also relatively inexpensive. But be prepared for the swelling afterwards.
What does Tixel feel like?
I hadn’t quite appreciated how serious a treatment this was until the anaesthetic cream is applied before my treatment. Not just your average clinical numbing cream with 4 per cent lidocaine (local anaesthetic), but the clinic’s own special super-strength numbing cream, with 23 per cent lidocaine. Within 20 minutes, the goggle-shaped area of skin around my eyes, neatly marked out for the treatment with a white pencil, is nicely numb, which is reassuring.
As the doctor begins treating the area, I can feel each touch of the device clearly enough, but it feels hot, rather than painful. On the skin just below the eyes, I feel it more acutely but not enough to make me shout for him to stop. And then he dials down the intensity to treat the skin on my eyelid – I can’t think of any other treatment that can be carried out on the eyelid, but for Tixel, it’s part of the treatment protocol – and that, strangely enough, is perfectly comfortable.
By the end, I look as if I am wearing a pink eye mask. My skin feels fiery-hot for the rest of the day and I wish I hadn’t arranged to go out for supper because I look pink and puffy, enough to catch curious glances from other diners in the restaurant (there’s no way you can wear makeup for 24 hours, until your skin has started to heal up). It isn’t painful overnight, and by the next morning my skin is almost its normal colour, though the treated area is a bit swollen. To me, it seems hugely obvious, but I think to other people it just looks as if I have habitually puffy eyes, or that I’ve been crying. But it’s nothing that a large pair of sunglasses won’t cover.
Over the next week, the treated area of skin feels a bit rough, and if I look really closely in a magnifying mirror, I can see the grid-mark of pinpricks left by those tiny titanium rods etched on my skin as they heal up, and after that it is fine. When I go back for reassessment four weeks later, I am amazed at the difference in the before-and-after photos. Crow’s feet are softer, the skin below my eyes is tauter, and the skin above the eyelid is tighter, too.
Don’t forget, you can always download my Tixel factsheet to read over later if you’d prefer.
What does Tixel treat?
Tixel treats a wide variety of skin conditions, including the following:
- Fine lines
- ‘Crepey’ skin around the eyes
- Sun-damaged skin
- Age spots
- Acne scarring
Perhaps the most common use is for skin tightening and for generally improving the texture of skin.
Tixel can also be used to open channels into the skin to improve the delivery of serums or creams.
Where can I get Tixel treatment?
You can use the Find a Practitioner tool on this website to find a practitioner who offers Tixel treatment.
For your Tixel treatment, make sure you find an experienced practitioner who can demonstrate a track record of success getting the type of results you want. Tixel is a heavy-duty treatment and needs to be done with great care; too much heat could result in a deeper burn which is sore and unsightly and which takes longer to heal.
How much does Tixel cost?
The cost of Tixel treatment varies depending on the clinic and the area you’re having treated. The following list gives approximate prices:
- Tixel treatment of a single smaller area, such as the eye area, costs around £300 upward per session, and a minimum of three is required.
- Tixel rejuvenation of the full face, using ablative mode, costs around £800 and up. One to three sessions is required, and this includes the eyes.
- Open-channel treatment costs from £300 upward, and three to six sessions are required.
How long does Tixel take?
The Tixel treatment itself is fairly quick, with a typical full-face treatment session taking 15–30 minutes. But you will normally need to have anaesthetic cream applied to your face, and give it 20–30 minutes to take effect, before the treatment.
How long does Tixel last?
The immediate effects of Tixel treatment last for one to two years. Tixel gives your skin a boost, but your skin continues to age normally.
To prolong the effects of Tixel treatment, look after your skin with good skincare. In particular, use a high-factor SPF to minimise the effects of exposure to the sun.
Depending on the condition of your skin and your aesthetic goals, your practitioner may recommend repeating the Tixel treatment after a year or 18 months.
Are there any side effects to Tixel?
Yes, Tixel has some side effects, especially Tixel in ablative mode. Side effects include the following:
- Redness. Your skin is likely to be red after heat treatment. The redness may last for up to a week.
- Heat and tingling. Your skin will feel hot and tingling for a few hours after the treatment, because it has received a blast of heat energy. This feeling will gradually subside.
- Swelling. Your skin is likely to swell, especially if you have treatment on the skin around the eyes. Like the redness, the swelling may last for up to a week.
- Tiny scabs. Your skin will develop tiny scabs over the treated area. If you can, avoid touching the scabs and give them time to fall off naturally – easier said than done! While you can apply make-up over the scabs after two days, it’s better not to use make-up until the skin has healed.
These are all important to remember and discuss with your practitioner if you go for treatment, so do remember to download my Tixel factsheet so you have all the necessary knowledge at your fingertips.