High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), also known as Ultherapy, is a relatively new anti-ageing treatment. It is the only non-surgical cosmetic procedure that can target the deep structural layers of the skin. It uses focused ultrasound to target ageing by tightening and lifting the deep layers of the skin on the face, neck, chest, arms and abdominal areas from deep down and building it back up.
How does it work?
Focused ultrasound energy targets the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS). This is the layer of muscle that surgeons manipulate when performing a face lift. It heats the muscle causing it to contract and tighten, resulting in lifting and toning of this layer. When we are younger, collagen is like a scaffold that keeps everything up, juicy and plump. As we age, the collagen scaffolding in this layer starts to become brittle, collagen production slows down and starts to diminish. In the next step of the treatment, the ultrasound energy is specifically focused on this mid layer called the dermis where the best collagen is produced. This kick starts new collagen production to strengthen it, so that it can hold the collagen scaffolding back up. The skin responds by immediately tightening and jump starting the processes of collagen and elastin production, resulting in plumper, smoother and tighter skin.
What is involved in the treatment?
Your skin will be cleansed and marked in grid pattern. Then ultrasound gel is applied. The treatment head will fire a series of high intensity focused ultrasound to different layers of the skin.
How does it compare?
First there were lasers, then intense pulsed light (IPL), then came radio frequency (RF), then fractional laser and RF, and finally HIFU. Although laser, Intense pulsed light, radio frequency and fractional laser have their benefits, HIFU is the only non-surgical treatment that can reach the subcutaneous and SMAS layer (see diagrams). It is completely non-invasive.
HIFU is excellent for:
- Reducing wrinkles, tightening the forehead, cheeks, around the eyes and mouth
- Reducing wrinkles, tightening sagging skin on the neck (turkey neck)
- Improving skin elasticity and shaping/contouring
- Improving the jawline to enhance jawline definition
- Reducing nasolabial/marionette lines
- Tightening the décolletage
- Improving complexion and smoothing the skin
- Tightening skin on the body
Is there any down time?
Because the treatment focuses the high intensity ultrasound on specific tissue below the skin’s surface, there is no damage to the upper layers of the skin. You may put makeup on straight afterwards or go straight to work. You may have some mild redness and swelling, however this typically subsides quickly, usually within 2 to 48 hours.
Is it painful?
You do not require anaesthetic cream for your treatment. You may experience momentary warmth while energy is being deposited during your HIFU treatment. The energy will be adjusted accordingly. The treatment has been described as a flickering wave going back and forth under the skin.
When do I see results?
You see an immediate lifting, when the ultrasound reaches the SMAS layer of the skin. You then get further firming and plumping over the next six months after your treatment when the skin is producing collagen. Results are visible in 3 months, however collagen production continues and the optimal time to see results is in 6 months.
Am I a good candidate for HIFU?
HIFU works best on people over 30 with mild to moderate skin laxity.
How long do the results last?
Because it has such a deep effect on the skin, results last for approximately 2 years.
How many treatments do I need?
Generally, excellent results are achieved with just one treatment. People with a large amount of loose skin will require up to 3 treatments. If more than one treatment is required, they are spaced at 8 months apart.
Cosmetic injections or threads?
It is best to schedule your HIFU treatment before any cosmetic injections. If you have threads in the area to be treated, you must wait 2 years until they have totally dissolved until you can have a HIFU treatment.