WHAT IS ULTRASOUND FACIAL TREATMENT?
The ultrasound therapy or ultrasonic facial is a non-invasive medical procedure that is used to lift skin and promote collagen production, leaving skin to look firmer, tighter and younger as a result. Traditionally, ultrasound imaging uses a technology known as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to focus its energy where it is most needed, safely targeting the deeper layers of the skin.
In Singapore, Ultherapy is a popular skin-tightening choice at aesthetic clinics and medi-spa for the treatment of anti-aging concerns such as loose, saggy skin. Ultherapy is a brand of machine that uses microfocused ultrasound (previously HIFU) or sound energy to generate a thermal effect to lift and tighten any skin laxity on the face, neck and chest. Unlike any other non-invasive aesthetic devices, Ultherapy has unique properties that allow it to bypass the surface of the skin to effectively treat the deeper layers. As such, this is why Ultherapy makes a good alternative for those who cannot or do not wish to undergo facelifts or who want to put off surgery for a few years.
HOW DOES ULTRASOUND FACIAL TREATMENT WORK?
Unlike other laser treatments, radiofrequency and peels that target the outer layers of skin, ultrasound therapy delivers sound waves about 5mm deep under the skin, penetrating into the papillary dermis as well as SMAS (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) layer of facial muscles under the fat, gently heating and triggering the dermis to begin producing new collagen. How this happen is that once the cells in the targeted area reach a certain temperature (briefly reaching greater than 60°C), they experience cellular damage. This essentially creates a thermal effect thereby causing a controlled micro-injury which stimulates the body’s natural healing and repair mechanisms to speed up collagen production (a protein that offers structure to the skin). With fresh new collagen, saggy skin then appears firmer and tighter, and there are lesser wrinkles. As the high-frequency ultrasound beams are focused on a specific tissue site below the skin’s surface, there’s no fear of damage to the upper layers of the skin and surrounding issue.
In Singapore, you may find various treatments called Ultraformer, Sygmalift and Ultraskin at various aesthetic clinics and salons, but they are all essentially HIFU, a one-time treatment with results that last for one to three years, depending on the skin condition. Visible ongoing improvements are more evident from three to six months after the treatment, due to the ultrasound energy triggering the skin to rejuvenate itself at the collagen-producing layer.
WHAT CAN ULTRASOUND FACIAL TREATMENT DO FOR YOU?
Ultherapy may be a good idea when you start to notice aging signs like a droop in the eyebrows, hooding of the eyelids, mild sagging in the neck and chin area or some wrinkling on the chest area. Both HIFU and Ultherapy have many aesthetic benefits which include wrinkle reduction, tightening of turkey neck and décolletage, opening up the eye area, elevating your facial features, restoring youthful skin tones and reduces epidermal sagging painlessly. This treatment basically stimulates collagen which in turn helps to lift nasolabial folds, restores fullness to the cheeks, reduce saggy jowl, creating a sleeker and more defined jawline.
Other treatable areas include the arms, breasts, abdomen, inner and the anterior thighs and buttocks for lifts and firming.
PROCEDURE AND TREATMENT
Before the procedure, your skin will first be cleansed, followed by the application of numbing creaming or cooling gel to help minimize any discomfort and pain, then the ultrasound handpiece will be placed on the skin. The high-energy ultrasound waves penetrate deep into the skin at the pre-planned site, heating the tissues. During the procedure, you may feel sensations of varying discomfort levels where the heat energy is being deposited. The sensations are noticeable only while the energy is being released. However, the intensity of the treatment can be adjusted according to each patient’s pain tolerance.
Depending on the treated areas, the procedure can last from 30 to 90 minutes and there is no downtime because the ultrasonic energy is delivered into the deeper layers of the skin, sparing the surface of the skin. After the procedure, patients typically experience mild and temporary side effects such as flushed skin, some swelling and tenderness on the area, often which will be resolved within a few hours, so normal activities may be resumed that day.
You can see some immediate effects, but it takes two to three months to see the best results. Additional improvements can appear up to six months following the procedure. The effects of the treatment is said to last up to a year. While majority of patients only need one procedure, however, some can benefit from more than one treatment depending on their biological response to the ultrasound and collagen-building process as well as how much laxity they have in their skin.
RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
There are not many known risks and side effects but as with any treatment, there are still risks associated with it. Although ultrasound is a non-invasive and one of the safest skin-tightening treatments, Ultherapy is a medical procedure and there will be risks and side effects which are minimized in the hands of qualified and experienced medical professionals and doctors. However, if Ultherapy is not performed by an experienced physician or professional, though rare, there may be risks such as nerve injury and thermal burns.
Some common and minor known side effects include slight swelling for a few days, tingling or tenderness to the touch for a few weeks and temporary small areas of bruising or numbness.
WHO IS NOT SUITABLE FOR ULTRASOUND FACIAL TREATMENT?