It’s no surprise that, at 36 years old, I’m starting to notice a few things that are a little different when I look in the mirror these days. Everything just seems to be heading a little bit south and looking tired – nothing too drastic or mirror-cracking worthy, but subtle differences that I would like to backtrack a couple of years.
I’ve worked as a writer and editor of beauty and cosmetic enhancement for numerous years – and I think it’s about time I put my money where my mouth is! After lots of research, I’ve decided to try Ultherapy.
You can check out my video diary here.
Ultherapy is a type of cosmetic procedure which is FDA approved to lift and tighten skin on the face, neck and décolletage – no surgery, needles or scalpels in sight.
The treatment uses ultrasound energy to target the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (the underlying musculature of the skin that determines the structure of your face and what is manipulated during facelift surgery) without harming the overlying skin.
Ultherapy is unique in the way it delivers energy to specific layers in the skin. Unlike traditional energy based systems, where greater energy delivery is achieved by upping the intensity on the skin’s surface, Ultherapy uses cross beams of ultrasound energy to precisely heat tissue at three depths (1.5, 3.0 and 4.5 mm). This contracts the SMAS and stimulates collagen production, without disrupting the skin in any way, so it’s safe for use on all skin types and colours.
The beauty of the procedure is that it forms new, naturally occurring collagen, which continues to form for two to three months after treatment. Initial effects may be seen right after the treatment, but the effect will build gradually over the following months as new collagen begins to lift and tighten skin.
Ultherapy can achieve a non-surgical brow lift as well as lift loose neck skin and improve wrinkles on the décolletage. One of the great things about Ultherapy is that it can allow some patients to postpone facelift surgery or, for younger patients, to delay the onset of skin laxity.
My Ultherapy treatment – before
Well-known Sydney cosmetic physician Dr Joseph Hkeik has been an early adopter of Ultherapy and is recognised as a leader in non-surgical enhancement, so I decided to visit his All Saints Cosmedical clinic and bite the bullet…
I met with the lovely Natasha at Dr Hkeik’s clinic and together we discussed my areas of concern, the limitations of the treatment, the discomfort I can expect during treatment, and did I want Panadeine beforehand to help with the prickling sensation (I declined, by the way, but in hindsight I should have taken them!).
Natasha said I didn’t have enough skin laxity to recommend treatment on the lower face and neck (this is more for people with jowling and loose skin under the chin and neck area), but she said I could definitely benefit from a subtle Ultherapy brow lift (for which it was designed to treat in the first place).
Next up, I had my photos taken at different angles. Then I was taken to a treatment room and Natasha applied a topical numbing cream, while I took a squizz at the actual Ultherapy machine.
It’s high tech and uses real-time ultrasound imaging to see beyond the skin and visualise the thickness of the dermis and subcutanenous fat layer, as well as the deeper bony layer.
Once the topical numbing cream kicked in, Natasha mapped lines on my face (there are specific treatment parameters for each area of treatment), which she will glide the Ultherapy applicator over.
My Ultherapy treatment – during
Natasha told me it was going to be uncomfortable, and she was right! How do I describe the feeling of Ultherapy? It’s an intense prickly sensation, like a little sewing machine is being run over your face. Now, I know this sounds horrible and unbearable, but it actually wasn’t.
The prickling heat sensation culminates after each pass over the pre-marked lines but just when you think it’s getting a little too hectic, the line has ended and you can have a breather, so it never got to a point where I had to ask Natasha for a break.
I was told this sensation is due to the sound waves delivering small, controlled amounts of energy into the deep layers of skin and soft tissue, and I remind myself the discomfort is merely a sign the treatment is working its magic!
I also had a lovely surprise visit by Dr Hkeik which took my mind off the prickling sensation!
Does Ultherapy hurt? In one word, yes. Was it unbearable? Definitely not. Would I do it again? You betcha!
How long does it take?
There are so many procedures touted as “lunchtime” procedures, but I’ve always wondered just how true this is. If you’re like me and the majority of the working world, we have one hour at lunch, not four!
Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t at the clinic for hours – I was in and out within an hour and a half! The treatment itself was about 30 minutes (but it will be more when there are more areas of the face/neck/décolletage treated).
My Ultherapy treatment – after
I felt no pain after treatment at all, and was ready to head back to work. There was some slight redness but I covered it with some mineral foundation (Lycogel Breathable Foundation was my cover of choice).
Natasha warned me I could develop red areas in the next day or so, but I only had a slight scratchy feeling when I ran my fingers over the area under my eyes. Even this was only temporary and went away in a few days.
Now the waiting game begins… after about 6 weeks (as that lovely collagen began to build) I noticed a nice lifting effect of my brow, which essentially makes me look a bit more awake and my eyes less “hooded”.
All in all, I would recommend Ultherapy as a non-surgical option to subtly lift skin and help rebuild the building blocks to supple and smooth skin.