By Santrina Fletcher, NP & Shalini Gupta, MD
It is absolutely amazing to experience the advances in technology lately! Cosmetic dermatology procedures are becoming less invasive and involve less down time. One example of this is Ultherapy, which is a facelift that is executed with the power of focused ultrasound. Ultherapy is the first non-invasive procedure cleared by the FDA that uses ultrasound to safely and effectively lift the skin on the face, neck and decolletage (chest area).
So, how does it work?
You may be familiar with the concept of ultrasound when identifying the sex of a baby, or during vascular procedures. Ulthera has taken this concept to the next level. The Ultrasound energy is delivered in a focused high intensity beam and targets specific depths for maximizing results. Unlike other FDA approved skin tightening devices such as Thermage, Exilis Elite, Venus Freeze, Skin Tyte, Titan, LuxIR deep, etc. which utilize either Infrared light or radiofrequency to deeply heat the collagen, Ultherapy allows me to visualize the layers of the skin and I know exactly where the energy will be delivered. Also, the Ultrasound can penetrate deeper and target the right structures without dissipating the energy to areas where it is not needed and hence lost. The first area that we target under the skin is known as the SMAS--a term you may know if you have looked into a surgical facelift. This is the fibromuscular tissue that covers the facial and neck muscles and naturally weakens with time and gravity. During a surgical facelift, it is sutured in a pursestring fashion to shrink and contract and hence lift the skin. With Ultherapy, we are able to contract this tissue through the skin without having to make any incisions. The second layer that is addressed is the dermal collagen. Collagen is the protein that gives skin its strength. It degrades over time, contributing to sagging and wrinkling in the skin. Applying energy to this area of the skin stimulates new collagen formation, a process known as neocollagenesis. Although there are some immediate tightening results seen, you will not see final results until about 3-6 months later.
First, there is a hand piece that is placed on top of the skin to identify the layer that we want to target. Once the fibromusclar and collagen layers are identified, pulses of ultrasound energy are delivered directly to those layers without disturbing the skin. It's just that simple. No bandages, no recovery time.
The procedure takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the amount of surface area covered. There is absolutely no down time since it is non-invasive and there are minimal side effects. Some people experience light bruising along the jawline or cheeks and report tenderness near the jawline. There is some slight discomfort during the treatment but is generally tolerated very well with Ibuprofen on board prior to treatment.
So, the next question is: How long will it last?
Since aging can't be stopped (unless we maybe enter , results from any procedure can never be permanent, but unlike Botox or fillers which wear off in 3-24 months, the effects from Ultherapy are yours to keep. Think of it this way: If Ultherapy can improve your skin and reverse your "age" by 5-10 years, you will always be that much further ahead as you continue to age. If this information is getting to you as you're just starting to see those first signs of sagging, it's an excellent time to get started. If you're a bit further along but hate the idea of surgery, this is the next best alternative by far. It is also an excellent insurance policy after a facelift to help maintain the tightness in your skin tissues. Continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle (good food, no smoking, minimize alcohol, avoid sun exposure, moderate exercise, using retinol and antioxidants on your skin, etc.) will certainly help you maintain your results. Certain vitamin supplements are also excellent. In fact, insurance is now covering these supplements for a $15 copay. Contact us if you would like to be signed up to receive these as well.
We are really seeing some "wow" results with this technology for face, neck and eye lifting! Visit our website for more info: http://www.cincinnatiskinandlaser.com/ulthera/
And please don't hesitate to contact us at 513-985-9885 to ask more questions.
Here's one of our patients after Ultherapy and Thermage for the upper eyelids Combo treatment.
And more Ultherapy patients: