High-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU is an exciting age-reversal treatment touted by celebrities such as Jennifer Anniston to being a favorite non-surgical facelift. This non-invasive treatment sends safe energy deep into the skin tissue to ignite the body’s natural healing reaction; the result is lifted, firmed, and toned skin.
How Does HIFU Work?
A HIFU transducer sends thermal energy, causing the tissue to get so hot that a micro-injury takes place. This sends a message to the body that repairs need to be made, essentially tricking the body into producing collagen and elastin. This process is slow, with results being most apparent at around 90 days post-procedure. Results times vary and can continue to improve after 6 months.
What Can I Expect During a HIFU Facial?
When you arrive at your appointment, your clinician will clean the area and may apply a topical anesthetic cream. Next, she will draw a grid on your face to ensure that any dangerous areas are avoided. Usually, they will use a water-based pencil that washes off easily. This grid also helps to make sure that every area of your face is treated in order. There is a specific system and direction in which the laser must be operated.
The treatment is very tolerable and there is no downtime. You can resume any normal activities and return to work. However, this is not a low light, pampering, warm, and pleasant spa treatment like a Radio Frequency Facial. This is a clinical or medical atmosphere type of visit. The lights will be on! The technician needs to see the precise lines of your face in order to follow the exact structure of your bones and muscles and avoid unsafe areas.
A HIFU facial requires three laser cartridges. Each cartridge reaches a different depth of the dermal layer. They will begin with two passes at the deepest laser, 2 passes at the mid layer, and then finally, they will finish with a 1.5 or 2mm (depending on the area) in one pass. That is a total of 5 passes. This could take up to two hours or longer.
The laser is applied against the skin, and a trigger is pushed, sending the energy into the skin. Your physician will adjust the device, creating more or less points of contact according to your tolerance.
Are There Any Special Instructions I Need to Know About Before a HIFU Facial?
Before your facial, your clinician may require you to drink a lot of water. The repair process that takes place in your body needs a hydrated environment. Alcohol and nicotine should be avoided for at least 2 weeks following a HIFU facial. Those substances inhibit the body from healing maximally. A good diet and supplements are very helpful while recovering.
Does A HIFU Facial Hurt?
There is some slight and temporary discomfort that feels similar to a spark or lit match briefly touching the skin. This treatment does not require anesthesia or pain medication other than over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol or Advil. If you bruise easily, you may choose to take Arnica or a Vitamin K Cream. You may experience mild redness or swelling, which will gradually diminish over a few hours.
What is the Benefit of HIFU Facials?
Clinical studies report that HIFU lifts sagging skin, which smooths wrinkles and deep lines. Among the many benefits, HIFU is especially useful for:
- Smoothing the Skin
- Lifting the Cheeks
- Lifting the Eyebrows
- Lifting the Eyelids
- Tightening the Decolletage
- Tightening the Neck
- Tightening the Jawline
A 2017 study showed significant elasticity improvement from HIFU treatments.
Is HIFU Preferred over a Facelift?
HIFU vs. Facelift
- HIFU Cost: The average HIFU is $1707 (depending on the location)
- Facelift Cost: The average surgical facelift cost is $7,562
- HIFU Invasive Level: No incisions
- Facelift Invasive Level: Requires incisions and sutures
- HIFU Recovery Time: None
- Facelift Recovery Time: 2-4 Weeks
- HIFU Risks: Mild redness and swelling
- Facelift Risks: Anesthesia, bleeding, infection, blood clots, pain, scarring, and hair loss at the incision sight.
- HIFU Efficacy: In one study, 94% of people described improvement in rejuvenation at the 90-day follow-up
- Facelift Efficacy: In one study, 97.8% of people described the improvement as very good or beyond satisfactory
- HIFU Long-Term Effects: Improvement persists for at least 6 months. As the natural aging process continues, additional treatments will be necessary
- Facelift Long-term Effects: Results are long-lasting even after an average of 12 years following the procedure.
The Wrap-up on HIFU Facials
HIFU is safe and effective, reasonably priced, and a non-invasive skin rejuvenation treatment. It's a relatively quick, painless option in lieu of surgery.
This treatment is not a magical remedy for aging and will require some annual or bi-annual maintenance. It is suited for those with mild to moderate skin laxity.