Defining what it means to be beautiful on your own terms goes hand-in-hand with how you do it. Ultherapy®, a skin lifting procedure that lets you enhance your features as you choose, is US FDA-cleared for use above the brows, under the chin, on the neck and décolletage to stimulate collagen growth through micro-focused ultrasound. It’s earned rave reviews around the world, from top beauty publications to high-profile celebrities swearing by it. It’s been dubbed ‘the lunchtime lift’, due to the 90-minute (or less) length of the procedure, which lets you jump right back into your daily activities—and can last up to a whole year.
However, the treatment’s success has led to high-frequency ultrasound (HIFU) treatments to claim that they employ the same technology at lower prices, while using completely different devices. Some even try to pass their devices off as Ultherapy® machines, which could lead to drastic results for patients.
Award-winning aesthetic physician Dr. Ting Song Lim, who has worked at various hospitals and clinics around the world, from Malaysia to Japan to the USA, shares why it’s important to make sure you’re getting your Ultherapy® treatment the authentic way.
Because of its micro-focused ultrasound with visualization (MFU-V) technology, Ultherapy® is precise in both the visualization it allows of the skin’s inner layers, as well as in the amount of ultrasound energy needed for the procedure. Unlike HIFU treatments, it can accurately distinguish between the different depths of skin that need to be targeted for lifting, such as 3.0 mm beneath the surface of the skin, just above the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS) that holds the various layers together, and even as deep as 4.5 mm beneath the surface and onto the skin’s foundational layer. Lasers and radiofrequency machines, however, only target up to the dermis or 3.0 mm beneath the skin’s surface, making them less effective.
“What we’re trying to do is strengthen the foundational area of the skin,” said Dr. Lim. “Back when we needed to use surgery, we had to cut to get to that level and actually coagulate and give energy to that level to tighten the SMAS layer to give better quality to the skin. When Ultherapy® came in, we managed to do that without cutting the skin.”
Counterfeit Ultherapy® machines, however, don’t have the same level of precision as the authentic device. Most of the time, these devices don’t give enough energy to create an effect at best, and at worst, can cause severe damage to the face.
“Sometimes the energy goes haywire and that can create a disparity,” said Dr. Lim. “The most dangerous part about it is when you have a device that runs through different layers. It can actually burn the skin.”
That’s where the importance of the US FDA clearance comes in. Dr. Lim said, “In the USA, it’s the FDA that determines if the device is safe and effective. By having the device FDA-cleared, that means that they went through a stringent examination to make sure that this device is safe for consumers and at the same time is effective for certain indicators.”
Aside from having authentic devices, Ultherapy® also pushes patients to seek out accredited partner clinics. Much effort goes into training doctors in carrying out the procedure to ensure that those interested in Ultherapy® receive proper treatment.
“Even with the best device, if you put it in the wrong hands, it’s not gonna work and you can do harm,” said Dr. Lim. “But if you take a good device and put it in the hands of a skilled person, you get great results.”