As we age, one of the most common complaints is loose skin. Common areas that fall prey to the passing years are skin below the neck, the brows and the cheeks. Over time, any combination of sun damage, gravity and loss of collagen and elastin without replenishment may cause skin to sag and ultimately, make you appear older than you actually may be.
However, new non-surgical options have become available that can help address sagging skin and help patients look younger with tighter skin. As recently seen on The Doctors, Ultherapy is a non-surgical device which uses ultrasound to treat sagging skin. Originally FDA approved as a non-invasive eyebrow lift, many physicians have found the treatment useful in other areas of the face.
One such place is below the neck or along the jowl lines. This area is particularly susceptible to loose skin over time and the condition has been referred to as "Turkey Neck" or a "Waddle." Two main components that keep skin supple and full are collagen and elastin. As we age, these two proteins begin to break down and are not replaced at the same speed resulting in sagging skin.
It is important to point out that while the Ulthera treatment is effective, it must be used on the ideal candidate. According to renowned New York dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, "The ideal candidate is a person with mild to moderately sagging skin on the face and upper neck who is at or close to their recommended weight."
Not recommended for overweight patients or as a tool to reduce weight in a specific area, Ulthera works by stimulating the growth of collagen over time. "The sound waves from Ulthera are targeted to the lowest level of the skin to gently heat the support structures of the face and neck," explains Dr. Tanzi, "Over time, the procedure gradually stimulates collagen production for noticeably tighter skin."
According to Dr. Lou Cole, a cosmetic surgeon who provides Ulthera in Atlanta, Ulthera offers patients a non-surgical alternative to a facelift without the downtime needed to recuperate after major surgery. While results are not as dramatic as a facelift, there is no downtime associated with Ulthera. "You can have Ulthera at lunch and by suppertime, you're out with your friends and no one really knows," he says.
With so many skin tightening devices crowding the market, it may be difficult to differentiate between all the treatments. "The ultrasound waves of Ultherapy penetrate deeper than other treatments to heat not only skin, but the support structures of the face and neck," states Dr. Tanzi, "This property is unique to Ultherapy and is why, in my experience, it can deliver greater clinical improvement than the other devices currently available."
Another feature that makes Ulthera unique from the competition is the incorporation of the DeepSEE technology which allows physicians to actually see the depth of which treatment is occurring, increasing patient safety as well as effectiveness of the treatment. DeepSEE technology provides consistent feedback during treatment and shows the physician precisely where the energy will be placed to deliver small amounts of productive ultrasound energy to the targeted areas.
Treatment time is approximately 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the severity of the skin laxity as well as the size of the area. Due to the DeepSEE technology, Dr. Cole says he enjoys the predictability of the Ulthera and that he knows where to direct the energy. "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," explains Dr. Cole. 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.
While most patients require only one treatment, it is possible for patients to return for a second treatment for more dramatic results.