Ultherapy: The Beauty of Ultrasound

In the world of antiaging, there are two words that even the most cosmetically unsavvy person would know: “Christie Brinkley”. At age 65 (!) she continues to defy the laws of aging. Smooth skin, sharp jawline, and full cheeks are just a few things on her long list of enviable features. Although clearly blessed with otherworldly genetics, Brinkley has openly talked about her love for Ultherapy and the role it plays in her beauty routine.

To understand how Ultherapy works, it helps to understand the basic anatomy of the face. Aside from the skin, the face is also comprised of fatty pockets, ligaments, and fibrous tissues. Above the cheek area lies an organized fibrous network composed of the platysma muscle, fascia, and a fibromuscular layer. Collectively these make up a structure known as the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System, or SMAS. This layer of the face is what is targeted and repositioned in a classic facelift, as well as some thread lifting procedures. What makes Ultherapy so effective is that the practitioner can selectively target different layers of the face, including the SMAS, all while utilizing noninvasive technology.

Unlike ablative lasers or radio frequency, ultrasound can heat the under layers of the tissues, without burning or damaging the top layer of skin. Like cooking, when heat is applied to these tissues they contract and tighten. Additionally, Ultherapy tricks your body into thinking that it has been wounded, thus spurring it to produce collagen and elastin.

As with any treatment, Ultherapy has its drawbacks and things to consider. If you are looking for immediate results, then this is not the technology for you. As one can imagine, kickstarting the production of your own collagen is not something that happens immediately, or even overnight. In general, patients can expect to see results build over the course of 3-6 months, with an average of 3 sessions needed spaced out at about the same length of time. Once the desired results have been achieved, most patients are able to maintain their results with one or two treatments a year. The beauty of Ultherapy is that the results are cumulative and don’t “undo” themselves any faster than the rate of your own natural aging. Once you cook something, it’s cooked!

After asking how long results last, the most frequent question is almost always “does it hurt?” In essence…yes. It’s not a particularly pleasant sensation-somewhere between a tingle, and zap, and then hot. Each pulse of the machine only lasts for a brief second, so the uncomfortable sensation is not long and drawn out. The good news is that topical lidocaine can be applied generously for 30-45 minutes prior to treatment, and in combination with anxiotropic medications like Xanax is effective at reducing discomfort.

The big upside to Ultherapy is that it can be done in less than an hour, and the only visible sign of treatment afterwards is a slight flush to the affected area. In the weeks that follow, patients can expect to feel slightly tender to the touch, but this quickly dissipates.

So, who is a good candidate for Ultherapy?
Anyone experiencing mild to moderate laxity, and those who do not have large amounts of very loose skin are great candidates for this treatment. Ultherapy was originally created to treat the submental area (under the chin where “turkey neck” creeps in), but is also great for the neck and chest, as well the jawline to help with pre-jowls that create creases at the corners of the mouth.

As with anything, patience and diligence with your treatment protocol will yield long lasting, natural results. If utilized properly, Ultherapy is a wonderful tool to keep in your beauty arsenal and will keep the youthful contours of your face intact for years to come.