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Ultherapy: Nonsurgical Alternative to Facelift

Fast facts

About:

  • nonsurgical ultrasound technology used to kick-start collagen production and tighten skin
  • uses focused pulsing heat energy to lift and tighten skin on the face, neck, and chest
  • should improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles

Safety:

  • cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009 for noninvasive eyebrow lift, noninvasive neck and submental area (under the chin) lift, and to improve lines and wrinkles of the décolletage (chest area)
  • over 526,000 nonsurgical skin tightening procedures like Ultherapy were done in 2016

Convenience:

  • procedure lasts between 30 and 90 minutes
  • no incisions or general anesthesia are needed
  • minimal preparation
  • minimal to no recovery time in most cases

Cost:

  • average cost of Ultherapy and similar procedures in 2016 was $1802

Efficacy:

  • according to a clinical study, 65 percent of patients reported some improvement 60 to 180 days after treatment
  • 67 percent of patients were very satisfied or satisfied with the results 90 days after treatment
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Overview

What is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy is a nonsurgical alternative to a facelift. It’s used to counteract signs of aging like skin sagging and wrinkles on the face, neck, and chest as well as drooping of the brow area. The FDA-cleared technology stimulates collagen production, which should create a more youthful look overall.

The popularity of nonsurgical skin tightening procedures such as Ultherapy has been consistently growing over the past several years, with an 11.6 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

How it works

How does Ultherapy work?

Ultherapy targets areas beneath the skin with focused ultrasound energy, using the right temperature to support collagen regeneration. The heat energy from the applicator is aimed at different depths, affecting three layers:

  • muscle
  • skin
  • superficial wrinkles

The ultrasound energy stimulates collagen and elastic tissue, which should result in firmer skin, less sagging, and fewer wrinkles.

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Preparation

Preparing for Ultherapy

Preparation for the procedure is minimal. Regular eating, drinking, exercise, and work routines can be maintained before and immediately after the procedure.

You should remove makeup and other skin care products from the target area prior to treatment. If instructed by your provider, you may take pain-reducing or anti-inflammatory medication before the procedure begins. If these medications affect your ability to drive, plan to be picked up from the office after the treatment.

Procedure

Ultherapy procedure

Your provider, usually a physician or laser technician, will clean the areas they plan to work on of any oil or residue and apply an ultrasound gel. The Ultherapy device is placed against the skin, and your provider will use an ultrasound viewer to adjust the device to the appropriate settings. Ultrasound energy is then delivered to the targeted areas. You might experience quick, intermittent feelings of heat and tingling during treatment. Pain medication can be administered to address any discomfort. At the end of the procedure, the applicator is removed.

A single procedure can last up to 90 minutes, depending on the treatment. Ultherapy treatment on the chest takes about 30 minutes compared to the face and neck areas which can take 60 to 90 minutes.

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Target areas

Target areas for Ultherapy

It’s used most commonly on the face, neck, and chest. Other target areas include:

  • eyebrows
  • under the chin
  • décolletage (chest area)

Custom treatment plans should be discussed during your consultation with an Ultherapy provider.

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Side effects

Are there any risks or side effects?

Sensations of heat and tingling typically subside soon after the procedure.

The treated skin areas can sometimes become flushed or red in the hours after the procedure, and short-term sensations including tingling, swelling, and tenderness may occur. On rare occasions, there may be some bruising or numbness, but these typically go away within a few days of the procedure.

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What to expect

What to expect after Ultherapy

There is usually no downtime associated with Ultherapy. Regular activities such as work, exercise, or socializing can be resumed immediately after treatment.

You can start noticing the first results of Ultherapy within a few days, depending on your body’s ability to produce new collagen. Improvement typically continues for up to three months. The results will last as long as your body continues to produce new collagen and until the natural aging process takes over again. Based on your skin’s response to Ultherapy, you can decide if additional sessions are necessary.

Cost

How much does ultherapy cost?

The cost of Ultherapy is determined by several factors:

  • the area or areas being treated
  • the number of sessions completed
  • your geographic location

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the average cost for a nonsurgical skin tightening procedure such as Ultherapy was $1802 in 2016. Compared to a facelift, which costs an average of $7503, Ultherapy is a less expensive alternative.

Since the exact cost can be different in each individual case, contacting an Ultherapy provider in your area might give you a better idea about the ultimate cost. Ultherapy is not covered by insurance.

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