There is a lot of hype about Ultherapy, the non-surgical cosmetic tightening procedure that uses ultrasonic waves to stimulate the creation of collagen in the deep layers of the skin as well as targeting and tightening of the SMAS layer of the face through heat energy from the ultrasound waves. Ultherapy is not a lifting procedure; it is best considered a modest tightening procedure, with limitations. The procedure addresses mild to moderate loose skin on the face and neck areas and, is best for those with very early signs of aging who want to temporarily tighten the loose skin and are not ready to undergo surgery or for patients who have already decided they will never undergo surgery an wish to do something about it. Ultherapy may in fact be a beneficial option for tightening and firming skin, but patients should be realistic about their expectations when comparing the procedure to a true lifting procedure.
One of the misconceptions about Ultherapy is that it yields painless results. Although the company claims patients may feel “some discomfort,” many patients reported they had to stop mid-treatment because they couldn’t tolerate the pain. Pain medications and numbing injections are strongly advised before undergoing the procedure. Because Ultherapy promotes collagen production and scaring in the SMAS, the results are not seen immediately. It can take 2-3 months to notice any changes in skin lifting and toning, and up to 6 months to see the full improvement. At that time it may be recommended for the patient to undergo another Ultherapy treatment with the same cost. Patients are also often disappointed to discover the immediate results they are looking for will not be delivered by undergoing Ultherapy.
Another common misconception about Ultherapy is that its cost efficient compared to surgery. However, treating the face and neck areas with Ultherapy can cost between $4,000-$6,000 per treatment and often times, more than one treatment is needed, particularly in older patients with less elastic skin and more advanced aging, to see any significant result. I have seen patients who are unhappy with Ultherapy because they spent a great deal of money for a result that achieved only a fraction of the results of a facelift. In addition, the longevity of the procedure is much less when compared to a lifting procedure, lasting only a short period of time when compared to a well done facelift. The procedure is not a long-term solution for aging, sagging skin and is not a substitute for surgery. It is not ideal for older patients who are seeking to correct more severe aging issues.
Certainly in this day and age of minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedures, patients tend to get caught up in the shiny luster of new technology as well as marketing, thinking there is now a better mousetrap for getting excellent results in aging face surgery, and often times they find out that these new fads are just an elusive unicorn. Ultherapy is ideal for those who are beginning to see the signs of mature, aging skin who want to stay ahead of the game. Typically this includes men and women in their 30’s or early 40’s. It can also be ideal for older people who are unwilling to undergo surgery but want to do something about their aging face and neck or those who have unlimited financial resources to continue temporary treatments before deciding on surgery as a long lasting method.
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