When people think of an ultrasound, they usually think of a machine that doctors use to see a fetus’ image during pregnancy. Now, thanks to new advances, this same technology is being used to smoothen, lift and firm facial skin, all without the use of injections, surgery or downtime.
Referred to as Ultherapy or Ulthera, the procedure uses DeepSee, a technology that uses focused ultrasound waves to produce “hot spots” deep under the skin. These hot spots trigger a repair process within the body, in which new collagen is formed to tighten and lift the skin.
Ultrasound is defined as sound waves that produce a frequency higher than what humans can hear. The Ulthera system stimulates soft tissue to heat up by focusing acoustic energy at a particular spot in the skin.
Ulthera Lets Doctors See and Treat Targeted Areas Deep Under The Skin
With Ulthera’s DeepSee technology, practitioners can be more selective in the area/s they choose to deposit the energy.
Vice-President of regulatory and clinical affairs at Ulthera Inc, Dr. Randall E Miller, said, “When it passes through the upper layers of skin, it’s just like a diagnostic ultrasound.” This visual aspect is key, as it allows the practitioner to see and target only the selected areas to be treated.
As Dr. Miller said, “What it does is deliver energy to a pre-determined depth in the tissue.” The intervening tissue remains unaffected.
Comparing Ulthera to Thermage
Ultherapy is not the first non-surgical facelift to hit the market. Thermage utilizes radio frequency to heat the skin’s deep layers while simultaneously cooling the surface to keep it intact. Other technologies only work at the skin’s surface or use “bulk energy” to get into the region. Some technology, like laser, literally burns holes into the skin, which takes more downtime afterwards as patients wait for their skin to heal.
Dr. Colin Tham, one of the first practitioners to use Ulthera, acknowledges that the system produces a more profound lift compared to Thermage. Although the results are less dramatic than a surgical facelift, patients interested in these non-surgical procedures like it for that very reason. The results tend to last 10-12 months.
Since its launch in Europe, more than 1,100 Ultherapies have been performed globally. The system has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and each machine costs about $105,000.
The Truth About The Pain, Redness And Bruising
There are, however, some possible side effects. After the treatment, there may be redness, which usually goes away after 30-60 minutes. There may also be swelling for three to four days. And in a small percentage of cases, bruising may occur.
Dr. Miller and Dr. Tham have both undergone the procedure themselves. Dr. Miller describes the feeling as “a series of tiny pinpricks.” Anesthesia is not necessary; however, depending on an individual’s tolerance for pain, oral sedatives and pain relievers may be needed.
A 51-year-old patient, name withheld, underwent Ultherapy because she wanted to remove her eye bags without looking “artificial.” She got her procedure performed by Dr. Tham, which took one to two hours. A month later, she feels that her skin is tighter and less wrinkly, but without the drastic, dead giveaway change.
The cost to treat a small area is an estimated $1,500, and for a full facelift, it is an estimated $7,000.
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