Energy based ultrasound treatments use high frequency sound waves – there are two types of ultrasound used in aesthetic medicine: high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and micro-focused ultrasound (MFU), which targets a specific skin layer.
Traditionally, ultrasound treatments had a reputation for being rather uncomfortable, however the science has moved on and the procedure is now described as mildly uncomfortable – skin cooling and strong numbing cream also helps patient tolerance.
Brand names to look out for include Ultherapy, HIFU and Ultracel Q+, and the latest to debut in this space, Sofwave.
Want to find out more? Here's the lowdown...
How does ultrasound work?The energy based treatment works by producing focused ultrasonic waves generated by a transducer: if you’re looking for a solution to sagging skin or skin laxity, your practitioner will deploy the heat based energy source to stimulate the deeper structures of the face.
At the right depth and temperature – the sweet spot for stimulating collagen ranges between 60C and 70C – the aim is to heat the dermis and induce thermal injury to the tissue, resulting in skin coagulation which is what’s needed for firmness, skin rejuvenation and a collagen boost.
What is it used for?Along with structural tightening, firming and boosting collagen, ultrasound technology is also used to improve sagging and wrinkles on the face, neck, chin and chest as well as a drooping brow. It can also help practitioners to see beneath the surface of the skin, including its thickness, fat pads and blood vessels.
Some practitioners use the treatment to help tighten the deeper layers in the skin to give more support, which can also create the illusion of a slimmer face without any fat reduction.
Ultrasound is also a useful tool for analysing the location and performance of dermal filler, and assisting in managing complications. If a patient wants their filler dissolved, visualising the filler enables dissolving filler to reach the relevant area, so that smaller doses can be used.
Is it painful?As ultrasound is energy based, it generates heat so you are going to feel a heat sensation. Again, it depends on which treatment you go for, but each cycle or zap typically feels like a building warmth which drops off just as you think it’s about to become intolerable or burn.
You’ll also find that certain areas of the face are more uncomfortable than others, such as around the eyes where the skin is thinner. As a result of such precise energy delivery, most people only need one treatment, however some people may require or desire a couple.