High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), also known as Ultherapy or Ulthera, is a non-surgical 'facelift' treatment that lifts, tones, and tightens problem areas around the eyes, face, neck and décolletage areas effectively and safely, offering a non-invasive, painless alternative to surgical face lifts. The treatment uses high intensity focused ultrasound waves at depths of 3.0 and 4.5mm to improve skin elasticity, naturally stimulate collagen production and also increase circulation, creating a tighter, smoother complexion.
How it Works
HIFU uses focused ultrasound energy to target the layers of skin just below the surface. The ultrasound energy causes the tissue to heat up rapidly. Once the cells in the targeted area reach a certain temperature, they experience cellular damage. While this may seem counterintuitive, the damage actually stimulates the cells to produce more collagen — a protein that provides structure to the skin.
The increase in collagen results in
2-3 treatments can last for approximately 3 years.
3-4 treatments can last for approximately 5-6 years.
Benefits of High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
HIFU has many aesthetic benefits, including:
- softening frown and smile lines
- wrinkle reduction
- tightening sagging skin on the neck
- lifting the cheeks, eyebrows, and eyelids and tightening the brows
- firming and enhancing jawline definition
- tightening of the décolletage
- smoothing the skin
Study results are promising. A 2017 study involving 32 Korean participants demonstrated that HIFU significantly improved skin elasticity of the cheeks, lower abdomen, and thighs after 12 weeks. In an Aesthetic Surgery Journal study of 93 adults, 64% of those treated with HIFU noted an overall improvement in skin laxity.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), HIFU and other nonsurgical alternatives to facelifts have seen a major increase in popularity over the last few years. The total number of procedures performed has increased 64.8% between 2012 and 2017.
Is it safe?
HIFU was is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is cleared to perform brow lifts and for improving lines and wrinkles of the upper chest and neckline (décolletage).
HIFU has been found to be a promising treatment that could replace face lifts, especially in younger people who don’t want the risks and recovery time associated with surgery. Several small clinical trials have found HIFU to be safe and effective for facial lifting and refining wrinkles. People were able to see results in a few months after treatment, without the risks associated with surgery.
HIFU may not be appropriate for everyone. In general, the procedure works best on people older than 30 with mild-to-moderate skin laxity. People with photo-damaged skin or a high degree of loose skin may need several treatments before seeing results.
HIFU is not recommended for people with severe cases of laxity and sagging skin, infections and open skin lesions, severe and cystic acne, extensive photo-aging, and metallic implants in the treatment area.