Ultherapy for Skin Tightening: Is it Worth All That Pain?

everything you need to know about ultherapyGet the skinny on the latest treatment, Ultherapy for skin tightening. Is it just hype?

What is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy is an FDA-cleared non-invasive procedure for skin tightening used to lift the eyebrow, and tighten the neck, jawline and décollete areas.

It uses an ultrasound unit to deliver focused energy to the skins deeper layers which promotes collagen production. It actually triggers your bodies’ natural healing response promoting the regenerative process that produces new collagen.

The amazing part is that, being non-invasive, it leaves no trace that it was there – no scabs, nothing. So what’s the first reason I don’t love it? Well, it takes about 6 months to show the results.

Collagen in Skin Tightening

Old Lady with Crepey Skin

To understand how Ultherapy works you have to understand the role that collagen plays on your skin. When we get around 30 years old we start to lose about 1% of our collagen every year.

As collagen production slows, our skin loses elasticity and it starts to sag and crepe and just generally look old. It’s that simple.

beautyblackbook tipsLess collagen =  Sagging Wrinkles and Crepey Skin

How Ultherapy Works

Ultherapy stimulates collagen growth by bypassing the surface of the skin, triggering a natural response under the skin, stimulating the regenerative process that produces new collagen like this:ultherapy animation of collagen being stimulated

Results of Ultherapy

woman before and after ultherapy

Woman Before and 6 Months After Ultherapy Treatment

How it Goes Down

Well of course I had to try it. Being the beauty adventurer that I am, how could I not? But even though the research is there, I have to admit, it took me a while to decide to do it as this treatment takes 6 months to see results and I’m a bit of an immediate gratification kind of gal.

Eventually though, I did come around and so did my husband. As a matter of fact we came around twice.

I did the research and after a few phone calls I decided to go with Dr. Larry Leverett as his office pioneered the unit in my area of town and his technician actually worked at Ulthera training other technicians on using the Ultherapy unit so I felt like we would be in pretty good hands. She was super informative and told me something that none of the other offices told me.

She said quite frankly that it’s painful but that there is no numbing for this procedure for two reasons. One, anesthetics like lidocaine plump up the skin about a millimeter. The ultrasound has to penetrate at least 4mm to be effective and if you use numbing cream it may keep the ultrasound from going as deep as it should and you won’t get the results you expect.

Two, even if you did put numbing cream on, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference as it only numbs your top layer of skin and the ultrasound penetrates much deeper.

beautyblackbook tipsTIP: If a doctor’s office says they will numb you for Ultherapy treatment then you may want to consider going elsewhere because the treatment won’t work.

I have a pretty low tolerance for pain so, after a bit of coaxing (ok, more like pleading), she told me she would give us each a sedative to relax us and have the doctor prescribe one Percocet each for the day of the procedure. Being so we would have to have a driver as we couldn’t drive afterwards.

So, the day of the procedure, we take a car to the office, take our Percocet & sedative and wait our turn. The procedure looks pretty innocent, right?

girl getting ultherapy

OH boy are looks deceiving! I went first and the moment this device zapped my skin I nearly jumped out of the chair. It felt like a sewing needle going in and out of my face. It was very painful and when I was done, for mine and the technician’s entertainment, I told Al that it didn’t hurt at all so I could watch my macho husband lay there with a calm look on his face pretending it didn’t hurt him either.

Well it did. And I was right – it was entertaining. We laugh about it to this day. Ahhh, the joys of marraige!

When we left, our faces were a little pink but, other than that, there wasn’t a trace of the trauma our skin had just endured. The next day though, I swelled up like a blowfish but Al’s face was fine. But within a couple of days my swelling was down and there wasn’t a trace of the torture I’d been through.

beautyblackbook tipsTip: Even though Ultherapy is advertised as having no downtime, you may want to consider giving yourself a couple of days to heal. I mean, I wouldn’t do it before an important meeting or event.

Cost of Ultherapy

It really depends on your area. I live in Phoenix and to do my face was $2500 and that was at a discount since me and my husband both did it at the same time ($5,000 total). A year or so later I paid $3200 for my neck and under chin area.

It is chunk, that’s for sure.

Does Ultherapy Work?

Most importantly, does Ultherapy work for skin tightening? Well we think it did – enough to do it again actually. The first time we did our face and, although it’s hard to tell after 6 months what exactly is working (it could have been our diet, drinking less alcohol, or a new skin regimen we’re trying), but I have to say that our faces definitely seemed more youthful.

Our skin was definitely tighter so we decided to attribute it to the Ultherapy.

At the time we did our face, Ultherapy wasn’t approved for the neck area but, the moment it was, we booked an appointment for our neck and under chin area. We went to another office as, in the interim year, I had developed a relationship with them and trusted them to do a good job.

The day of the procedure it was the same drill but this time, on the way, we stopped for a couple of cocktails in preparation (oh relax, we didn’t drive).

It was as painful as the first time, if not more, but we survived. Unfortunately though, we didn’t see the results we felt we had in our face. Regardless though, the pain is still fresh in my mind so even if we had seen a decade removed, I don’t think I would do this again.

Is Ultherapy Worth It?

I think Ultherapy works for the face but not so much on the neck. Was it worth it? No. There are other treatments more economical that have some downtime but show immediate substantial results, like the Syneron Matrix RF as one example. I will talk about that in a future article. xoxo

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