27 Apr Ultherapy: non-invasive skin tightening and lifting
Most people are familiar with the use of ultrasound technology for imaging that allows us to see inside and evaluate the body – allowing an expectant parent to gaze upon a growing embryo for example. Did you know that ultrasound is also a highly effective tool for cosmetic enhancement and anti-aging?
When explaining how ‘Micro Focused Ultrasound with Visualisation’ or Ultherapy works, my favourite analogy is the way that children hold up a magnifying glass so that concentrated energy from light can burn little holes in the paper. We use ultrasound technology to concentrate very specific points of heat that penetrate deeply into the skin at very precise depths that can be measured down to half millimetres, making it highly effective.
Any therapy that triggers wound healing (as ultrasound heat therapy does) is founded on the body’s highly predictable response, which comes in key stages. Firstly the body sends in cells to start mopping up any debris or damaged cells, then it delivers more cells to start depositing collagen and growing more blood supply. We are tricking the body to do what it is primed to – only this time the body’s seemingly miraculous power to heal is harnessed to enhance skin, by tightening the laxity that comes with ageing and boosting collagen, the protein that gives your skin structure and the plump, dewy appearance of youth.
If you have the choice and ability to plan your treatments, Ultherapy skin tightening should be early on in the process as it works from the inside out and is such a gentle way to begin.
Who does Ultherapy suit?
- Those who prefer mild treatments, finding more ablative lasers etc. too confronting. Ultrasound is also a very safe modality which has been used for decades, for imaging as well as therapeutically, which reassures more conservative clients.
- Those keen to avoid any real downtime. The ultherapy process does not damage the surface of the skin, so there is no external change for people to notice. Post-ultherapy, one can be a little tender from the heat and puffy for a day or so but still resume normal living and (in non Covid-19 lockdown periods) social events, even the next day. To clarify, the procedure itself can be a little uncomfortable and that heat does build up in the skin, so we recommend taking a little pain relief in advance to be amply prepared.
- Age isn’t really a factor when choosing Ultherapy. We mostly start with people in their 30s or 40s who are just starting to see the effects of ageing. Of course the later decades will see the onset of a lot more ageing issues that require varying techniques.
- Patient people who understand the rationale behind treating and tightening up some of these deeper layers in the skin: it takes six months of waiting while the results work away in the background. I rarely apply Ultherapy as the very first treatment for somebody who has never had cosmetic work done before, because they want to see where that money is going sooner. We can add a treatment like anti wrinkle filler as a quick fix component.
If somebody has significant volume loss, hollowing in the face and losing fat support – then we should address both lift and volume anyway. Ultherapy is primarily about lifting and tightening the skin, so Ultherapy is perfect for loose skin. If skin is saggy because of lost volume and a face that is dropping, then we need to replace volume as well as lifting with Ultherapy.
There is a range of anti-aging and enhancement options on THE MUSE CLINIC menu. Where do I begin?
Where possible, clients should plan their treatments in a way that makes the most sense and achieves an optimum result. I think of the face in layers: first there is the bony structure, then the connective tissues and muscle, after that the fat layer and lastly the upper skin. Ideally, it makes more sense to target the deeper layers of the face first, working from the foundation up to the surface. If you have the option, it’s best to start early in the game.
It’s about not treating one layer in isolation – you can’t expect to get the best result possible that way. The people who only get injections, such as Botox, never look their best because they haven’t addressed skin issues like sagging and volume loss: all they have done is smooth out some of the wrinkles. Focusing entirely on wrinkle filler will only puff up the volume in their face; they haven’t addressed the skin or sag quality. All of those layers are ageing and changing at the same time: we optmise skin appearance and look our best by addressing each one. You won’t get the best result with just one kind of system.
WIth my background as a doctor, I always come back to making that medical assessment. We do this with our health; it should be no different in cosmetics. What is happening in that person’s face that is making them age? As with every aspect of medicine, you examine the history of the problem as well as the body and investigate what your client is noticing.
One should touch the face and skin texture, feel the life points and assess the quality underneath (does the skin spring back?), then offer different management options that are tailored exactly to that person. Cosmetic enhancement is no different to any other branch of medicine in that respect. There should be a medical component to all of these treatments and they should address beyond what you see when you first look at somebody. I look at how we are going to keep someone looking better next year, and five years after that. At MUSE clinic we think of ongoing treatment as an investment in your face and whole demeanour. This becomes a very exciting journey that we take together.
Dr Stephen Lowe