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Ultrasonic skin tightening, introduced first to the market with a device called Ultherapy®, is a non-invasive, non-surgical cosmetic procedure that uses micro-focused ultrasound waves to stimulate collagen production, resulting in an “uplifted” effect to the face and neck. This procedure can lift the brows, lift sagging skin, tighten loose skin around the jowls and improve the appearance of a double chin. It can also be used around the mouth and on the cheeks. A good candidate for face and neck ‘up-lifting’ with ultrasonic skin tightening is someone with skin that has started to look and feel less firm. Typically, those in their 30s and older who have mild to moderate skin laxity are candidates for treatment. The results typically last for a year, although some people might see results lasting between three to five years. At least one top-up treatment per year in recommended to maintain the result. The average cost of an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment is from between £1,000 and £4,500 depending on area(s).
Exilis® Elite uses a combination of monopolar radio frequency (RF) energy, ultrasound to stimulate fat lipolysis (the breakdown of fat cells) and collagen remodelling (for skin tightening), alongside skin cooking, helping to contour the body and face.
ULTRAFORMER III is a HIFU device offering ultrasound skin tightening for the face and body.
Ultrasonic skin tightening, introduced first to the market with a device called Ultherapy®, is a non-invasive, non-surgical cosmetic procedure that uses micro-focused ultrasound waves to stimulate the body's natural healing and cell repair processes, boosting collagen production, resulting in an “uplifted” effect.
Sometimes referred to in the press as a ‘non-surgical face lift’, ultrasonic skin tightening could be a viable option for people wishing to tone, tighten and smooth the skin on their face and neck without resorting to surgery, and for those who currently have limited loose or sagging facial skin so are yet to be ideal face lift candidates.
Ultherapy, from Ulthera Inc. is the only branded treatment currently being marketed for ultrasonic skin tightening was first given U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 2009 after performing well in clinical trials with over 100,000 procedures performed worldwide. One of these studies, an efficacy study at North Western University in 2007, demonstrated a clinically significant brow lift in 89% of the patients treated and led to Ulthera’s first FDA indication. It is the first and only non-invasive technology to receive an FDA indication for ‘lift’.
Using the safe, well-tested energy of ultrasonic waves, micro-focused ultrasound waves target the deep structural support layers within the skin using ultrasonic imaging, ensuring that the energy is deposited where it will be most effective.
If you are considering Ultrasonic skin tightening with Ultherapy or any other devices, the following information should give you a basic understanding of the procedure. It can’t answer all of your questions, as the outcome of the procedure depends on the individual and practitioner. Please ask a medical practitioner about anything you don’t understand.
How does it work?
Ultrasonic skin tightening is a non-invasive, non-surgical face and neck treatment, designed to smooth, tone and tighten the skin. An ultrasound hand piece delivers concentrated, focused, ultrasound energy to the deep foundation layers of skin (the same areas targeted during cosmetic surgery, the SMAS or platysma) without disrupting or damaging the surface of the skin. This concentrated ultrasonic energy penetrates deeper than similarly targeted laser (<1.5mm into superficial dermis) or radiofrequency (<3mm into the dermis) treatments, going just deep enough (up to 4.5mm) to heat the tissues to stimulate the layer of skin that produces collagen.
Collagen is a protein naturally found within skin. After the age of 30, collagen production starts to tail off dramatically; which is why skin starts to lose tone and elasticity. Collagen keeps skin looking elastic, allowing it to “ping” back into place, and without collagen, skin starts to sag slightly. The ultrasound treatment effectively “jump starts” the cell repair process, stimulating the production of fresh collagen; a process called neocollagenesis. This increase in collagen production results in skin that is smoother, tighter and more toned.
The Ultherapy device comes with a variety of ultrasound transducers which can be attached to the machine’s hand piece to deliver the ultrasound energy to different depths (1.5mm, 3mm and 4.5mm) within the skin, depending on the treatment area and tightening required, e.g. lower face, upper face, neck etc. Whilst treating, the practitioner is able to see a visual of the skin layers on a screen, similar to when viewing ultrasound scans for babies.
Ultrasonic skin tightening is marketed with a device called Ultherapy®, a trademark of Ulthera, Inc. Ultherapy is the only branded procedure currently available for ultrasonic skin tightening.
Used to treat
The main goal with any ultrasonic skin tightening treatment is to target the deep structural layers of skin responsible for collagen production, to control tension within the skin, creating an up lift and smoothing and toning the surface of the skin.
The procedure is designed to treat loose or sagging skin on the face and neck.
The targeted ultrasonic energy can recondition and renew the skin from within and when applied to specific areas of the face and neck, can result in a lifted appearance.
This procedure can lift the brows, which reduces excess skin on the eyelids and underneath the brows, opening up the eyes and making them appear more youthful.
It can also lift sagging skin, tightening loose skin around the jowls and improving the appearance of a “double” chin.
It can also be used around the mouth and on the cheeks.
Some people also notice some mild improvements to skin tone and texture, but this is not the main goal.
A good candidate for face and neck ‘up-lifting’ with ultrasonic skin tightening is someone with skin that has started to look and feel less firm. Sagging skin on the eyelids, along the jawline or under the chin are often the give-away first signs that someone’s skin is maturing. Typically, those in their 30s and older who have mild to moderate skin laxity are candidates for treatment.
Ultrasonic skin tightening should not be used if you have had Botox, dermal fillers or other injectables, as the ultrasonic waves can break down the proteins in these treatments.
Some women find that their skin is more sensitive right before and during their menstrual cycle so if you are a woman, you might want to take this effect on pain threshold into consideration when scheduling your treatment appointment(s).
To start with, you and your practitioner will discuss which area you'd like to be treated. You can choose to treat just one area of your face and neck, your face only, your neck only or both.
Careful discussions regarding your reasons for wanting treatment are very important before you begin the treatment. You must also make sure that this treatment can deliver what you want and how you would like to look afterwards. Your practitioner should be able to answer all these questions.
A medical history should also be taken to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t undertake treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with the procedure.
Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner for a "before and after" comparison at a later date.
The skin will be thoroughly cleansed to remove make-up, debris etc. and an ultrasound gel applied to the surface of the skin. The smooth applicator hand piece will then be placed onto the skin and the micro-focused ultrasound will be applied. It will bypass the surface of the skin, penetrating to the deeper layers of skin to stimulate collagen production. Ultrasonic imaging will be used to determine where the ultrasound energy should be deposited. The ultrasound gel will then be cleansed from the skin and an ointment or moisturiser may then be applied to skin.
A partial face, brow or neck lift will take approximately 30 minutes, while a full face and neck lift will take between 60-90 minutes.
The results of an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment typically last for a year, although some people might see results lasting between three to five years. Young, fresh collagen is still being produced one year on, but skin continues to age and so practitioners will generally advise that you have at least one top-up treatment per year in order to keep up with the on-going ageing process and maintain the result.
There is no downtime associated with an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment.
You will be able to go back to your regular routines immediately after treatment.
Some people might notice a slight improvement in the appearance of the skin on their face and neck immediately after treatment, and skin tone and texture will continue to improve over the following two to three months.
Some people might notice continued improvements up to six months after treatment.
Side Effects and Risks
There are few side effects and risks associated with an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment. It is non-invasive and non-surgical and so there are no open wounds, meaning that there is no risk of infection.
You may experience some redness and skin might appear flushed, but this usually subsides within a few days and is often not particularly noticeable.
Some people may also experience some slight swelling as well as tingling/tenderness to the touch, but this tingling and swelling typically subsides within a few weeks.
Other rarer side effects include small areas of bruising or temporary numbness.
Some people find the ultrasonic skin tightening treatment quite uncomfortable and it is entirely normal to feel discomfort during the procedure. Comfort levels do vary from person to person but any discomfort experienced is associated with the ultrasonic energy being deposited underneath the skin. Luckily, any discomfort usually subsides as soon as the treatment is over and people typically leave the treatment feeling comfortable and happy about the outcome of the procedure.
If you continue to feel pain following the procedure, it is recommended that you take paracetamol or ibuprofen in order to reduce pain symptoms.
To undergo an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment, you should be in general good health and have reasonable expectations of the outcome of the procedure.
Ultrasonic skin tightening is suitable for people aged between 35-65, with mild to moderate skin laxity that has relaxed to the point of sagging slightly or looking less firm. It provides an ‘up lift’ and not the equivalent of a surgical ‘face lift’.
Pregnant women should not undergo an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment as the effects of this treatment during pregnancy are not yet known.
Who Can Do It
Only fully trained and qualified medical practitioners (nurses, doctors and surgeons) should perform an ultrasonic skin tightening procedure.
For more information about practitioner training, qualifications and relevant medical organisations please view the information contained within the Legislation section of the Consulting Room.
The average cost of an ultrasonic skin tightening treatment is from between £1,000 and £4,500.
Treatment of the upper face (eye and brow area) could cost £1,000 to £1,500, lower face (and neck) £2,000 to £2,500 and a full face and neck treatment approximately £3,000 to £3,500. Prices differ depending on the practitioner and the area(s) being treated.
Ultrasonic skin tightening is a new, non-invasive and non-surgical way to treat some of the classic signs of ageing, such as sagging eyebrows and sagging jowls.
It's an alternative to more invasive procedures such as a face lift, depending on the skin quality of the individual, and works using focused ultrasound waves that target the structural layers of skin, controlling skin tension, increasing collagen production and lifting, toning and tightening skin.
You can expect to see an improvement in the appearance of skin in the two to three months following treatment, with further improvements up to six months following the treatment.