Skin tightening devices abound as patients continually search for less painful and longer lasting non-surgical methods of reducing the appearance of wrinkles and loose skin. Methods vary greatly among the different devices and one of the most popular forms of energy in aesthetics is ultrasound. It's used in the Vaser liposuction device and now, is available for skin tightening with Ulthera.
"I think the Ulthera has a much more precise method of determining skin tightening," says Dr. Lou Cole, a Duluth cosmetic surgeon providing Ulthera in Georgia. As with all skin tightening therapies, Ulthera is often compared to Thermage, which is considered by many to be the gold standard. Dr. Cole says that you can better focus the ultrasound energy and see the depth you're reaching to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their needs. "The Ulthera seems to be much more predictable in its efficacy as opposed to Thermage, which gives some variable results."
Ulthera Results - 90 Days Post TreatmentImages Courtesy of Ulthera
Dr. Cole says that in his practice he's begun to phase out the Thermage in favor of the Ulthera, at least when it comes to treating the face. "We're still in the process of beginning to do some studies with the Ulthera around the body but we don't really have the capability to use it there yet." He points out that Ulthera is currently only FDA approved for use around the eyes and on the face. It's a new device so it's still in the developmental stages. As time goes by and more testing and studies are completed, Dr. Cole says Ulthera may be an option for body treatments.
The ideal patient for Ulthera is one who doesn't yet have extensive skin laxity, but is beginning to have some jowling and the loose skin in the neck area especially. Dr. Cole says that this skin tightening treatment offers a kind of non-surgical facelift which has no downtime. "You can have Ulthera at lunch and at supper you're out with your friends and no one really knows," he says. Patients who are in their 60's or 70's probably wouldn't be pleased with their results and are not good candidates for Ulthera.
Actual Ulthera results, 120 Days After treatmentImages Courtesy of Ulthera
Around the eyes, the Ulthera device has been shown to give patients a significant lifting effect. "Around the lateral brow, patients are seeing anywhere from 2 to 4 millimeters of lift, and it does so consistently," says Dr. Cole. "It's great for people who are really looking to open up their eyes and want a youthful look. Ulthera is also very helpful around the jowls and along the neck."
One feature setting Ulthera apart from the competition is DeepSEE technology which gives physicians consistent feedback and allows them to see what depth they're reaching with treatment. This accurately shows the doctor where the energy will be placed, and they can then deliver small amounts of very productive energy to targeted planes of tissue. This precision contributes to both safety and effectiveness.
The procedure only takes around 45 minutes to an hour depending on the extent of skin laxity and the size of the area treated. Dr. Cole says he enjoys the predictability of the Ulthera and that he knows where to direct the energy. "This is different from Thermage where it's variable from person to person how much energy you give. Ulthera gives the exact same energy at two different depths. It will go to 4.5 millimeters or go to 2 millimeters. You're creating injury zones right below the skin." Ulthera stimulates the growth of collagen so that there is an initial lift, but results continue to improve for 90-120 days, and can last 2-3 years.
Actual Ulthera Before and After PhotosImages Courtesy of Ulthera
Treatment is not exceedingly painful but can be uncomfortable. Dr. Cole says he recommends patients take a mild pain pill prior to treatment and most handle it pretty easily. Patients usually have just the one treatment, and don't need to return until a couple of years later. The only side effects seem to be a red mark or some skin irritation, but with proper caution during energy delivery, Dr. Cole says there should be no problem.
How much does Ulthera cost? According to Dr. Cole, treatment of the whole face will typically cost between $2800-$3200 depending on what part of the country you're in. Doing other areas individually will tend to cost more in the end.
Dr. Lou Cole discusses the Ulthera skin tightening device:
One of the co-founders of Cole Dermatology & Aesthetic Center in Duluth, GA, Dr. Louis Cole, MD is trained in surgery and is board certified in Emergency Medicine. A graduate of Brown University, Dr. Cole completed his education at Brown University Medical School. After his internship at Rhode Island Hospital, Dr. Cole moved to Georgia to begin his practice. An active member of several professional societies including American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, International Society of Cosmetogynecology, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and Medical Association of Georgia, Dr. Cole is also affiliated with the Gwinnet Medical Center in Duluth.
Dr. Lou Cole
American Health and Beauty, in an effort to provide the most up-to-date information to our readers, presents the Beauty Tech Review. The next installment in this ongoing series discusses Skin Tightening technology. Join American Health and Beauty editor, Keith Veseleny, as he speaks with leading physicians who share their knowledge on each skin tightening platform.
Previous Beauty Tech Reviews have included the following topics:
Laser Lipoloysis, Fractional Resurfacing, Body Contouring and Cellulite Reduction.