In recent times, there has been a growing demand for achieving rejuvenated skin, particularly in and around the face. That demand has seen the continued development of ultrasound for skin tightening and non-invasive skin lifting. As the facial tissue ages, many changes occur. The skin tissues develop laxity and noticeable pigment and texture changes start to become evident. Laxity can normally be noticed in the jowls first but later, these changes progress to other regions of the face.
Lines and wrinkles are often a huge area of concern for both men and women alike. Wrinkles are caused when our facial muscles contract to cause natural skin folds and creases. Overtime, these folds and creases become more of a fixed feature as the skin develops in laxity. Laxity is simply the combination of aging, genetics, diet, stress, lifestyle, sun exposure, weight fluctuations, exposure to environmental toxins, and smoking. All of these factors play a part in the amount of collagen and elastin we retain in the skin.
Whilst some of us resort to various skin care creams and products to help moisturise the skin, many are now seeking more effective alternatives. Previously non-invasive methods included the more tradtional YAG devices, dermabrasion or deep chemical peels. All of which would cause significant downtime due to the amount of injury caused in order to stimulate a wound healing response causing collagen to grow.
Fortunately, with the development of energy-based treatments such as LED, radio frequency and ultrasound for skin tightening, the skin tissue can be remodelled with minimal downtime. The results are not as pronounced as with more invasive procedures but subtle rejuvenation can be observed.
Ultrasound for skin tightening – What is it?
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
Ultrasound is a form of energy that is capable of penetrating the skin and causing thermal coagulation deep inside the skin tissue. There are various forms of ultrasound for skin tightening available with High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) being one of the most popular in recent times.
HIFU utilises the power thermal beams of energy which pass harmlessly through the skin to converge at a focal point beneath the skins surface at different depths. A rise in temperature at the focal point causes cell disruption and injury. The micro-injury caused encourages a healing response in the area treated which subsequently leads to the growth and formation of new collagen.
Another form of ultrasound for skin tightening is Focused Ultrasound (FUS). This is the most common form of ultrasound for skin tightening. Similar to medical imaging, however once again, ultrasound wave converge to meet at a focal point beneath the skin targeting subcutaneous tissue. As the ultrasound vibrates inside the tissue, molecule friction occurs which causes heat to be absorbed. The heat generated is estimated to be from 65-75°C.
At these temperatures, collagen denaturation occurs and the bodies’ wound healing response is triggered. This results in the formation and remodelling of the collagen bonds which causes the skin to lift and tighten. HIFU and FUS targets the SMAS which connects the facial muscles with the dermis. This is exactly the same place where cosmetic surgeons operate when performing a facelift.
The results of such treatments generally occur over a three to twelve month period following treatment. Cadever Studies indicate that penetration depth is determined by the frequency of the sound waves. The lower the frequency, the deeper the penetration.
Suitability for treatment
If you’re looking to improve your skins laxity but would prefer to avoid surgical intervention, ultrasound for skin tightening could be your best option. Providing your skin is mild to moderate in terms of laxity then you would be suitable for treatment. Those who have severe photoaging are not suitable for treatment. These clients do not have the ability to regenerate new collagen and so treatment is futile. Heavy smokers who have smoked for a long time tend to fall into this category.
Younger people tend to have a much better wound-healing response and therefore achieve better results. Those with keloid scaring would also be contraindicated. Any other similar medical conditions where wound healing is an issue would be contraindicated too. For example, someone with an open wound or lesion, cystic acne, metal implants or currently pregnant would not be suitable in any ultrasound for skin tightening treatments.
An important part in prepartion for any ultrasound for skin tightening treatment is making sure the client has a realistic expectation of the achieveable results. Generally speaking, aesthetic improvements are subtle and not as dramatic as any cosmetic surgical procedure. Clients should be careful not to listen to any claims that an ultrasound for skin tightening treatment can produce results almost as good as a surgical procedure. There is also the potential for no appreciable clinical improvement. For this reason, no guarantees of results should be made. That being said, the vast majority enjoy remarkable improvement in laxity following an ultrasound for skin tightening procedure.
Is treatment painful?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about ultrasound for skin tightening. Treatment is normally pain free but this does really depend on the individual. Sometimes, mild discomfort can be experienced by the client. The intensity of the treatment will normally dictate whether and pain is felt or not. There is no requirement for any form of pain relief or anaesthetic. However, it is important to note, in some cases, clients have reported a sensation similar to ‘pin pricks’ traveling across the skin when opting for the HIFU Facelift treatment. This sensation is mild and very temporary in nature.
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