High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

A treatment for skin rejuvenation and body contouring

By Ellie Holden

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

When you think of ultrasound, you probably picture a pregnant woman in a hospital having a scan to see her unborn child.

However, what many don’t know is that certain types of ultrasound have great abilities to improve our cosmetic concerns!

What is HIFU?

High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a popular non-invasive treatment for skin rejuvenation and body contouring due to its ability to tighten and lift the skin while stimulating the body to produce collagen.

The ultrasound energy is delivered through a special device in a very controlled and targeted way. This energy vibrates tissue and creates friction between molecules, which absorb the mechanical energy leading to the heating of the tissue. The heating then stimulates the body’s natural wound-healing response, which influences collagen production, thickening the connective tissues in the skin and creating a tightening effect, while also rejuvenating the skin’s appearance.

The energy can be sent to the deeper fat layers to cause cell disruption and fat breakdown, which results in fat reduction and tightening. And it does all this without harming the surrounding tissues!

What are the benefits?

For skin rejuvenation, HIFU is expected to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as lifting and tightening the skin. For body sculpting, HIFU may help remove stubborn pockets of fat, while improving the appearance of the skin.

HIFU can:

  • Contour body areas such as the buttocks, thighs and abdomen
  • Lift sagging skin on the face, such as the brows, jowls, jawline and mid-face
  • Reduce lines and folds around the mouth, such as the nasolabial folds and marionette lines
  • Lift the neck and décolleté
  • Rejuvenate the skin and improve its overall appearance

The treatment is fast, taking around 45-60 minutes with minimal to no recovery time. While some effects of the treatment can be seen initially, the full result will take several months and will improve over time. Often only one treatment session is needed, but some patients require multiple treatments. Results last from 18 months to three years, depending on the type of device used and the area treated.

According to one recent study of 75 patients who received HIFU for facial and neck rejuvenation, 78% of patients were satisfied with the treatment outcomes.

What type of HIFU treatments are available?

There are many different types of HIFU devices available on the market. Always ask your practitioner what device they use and research them prior to treatment.

Some of the common types of devices in the UK include: HIFULAB, HIFU Med, HIFU MediLIFT, LIPOcel, perfecte’ me, SF HIFU Med, ULTRAcel Q+, UltraFormer, Ultra 4D and 3D HIFU.

Another ultrasound device you may have heard of is Ultherapy. This uses slightly different technology to HIFU, known as microfocused ultrasound, but is also an effective treatment for skin rejuvenation.

Considerations

HIFU is considered a very safe treatment in the hands of a trained practitioner but there are still potential side effects to consider.

Some people feel pain or discomfort during the procedure – your practitioner will be able to recommend ways to manage this and may apply topical anaesthetic cream.

Immediately after the HIFU treatment you may experience mild redness, swelling, tenderness or a tingling sensation, but it should not persist. Temporary numbness or bruising could also occur, but should subside after a week or two.

The treatment may not be suitable for patients with certain medical conditions and those with a high degree of skin laxity and looseness might be better candidates for surgery. The other consideration is that HIFU might not be the right treatment for you. There are many other non-surgical treatment options available to address body shape concerns such as cryolipolysis, fat dissolving injections, laser lipolysis, high-intensity focused ultrasound and muscle stimulation devices.

After a thorough consultation, your aesthetic practitioner will be able to recommend the best treatment to help you reach your cosmetic goals!

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