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What are the Side Effects of Ultherapy? Is it Safe?

“Does Ultherapy have any side effects?”

“Is Ultherapy treatment safe?”

These are 2 very commonly asked questions from my patients on a daily basis. 

My short answer is “Yes. Ultherapy treatment is generally safe.

However, Ultherapy is a medical treatment for tightening skin and face lifting, and all medical treatments carry risks of side effects.

Based on hundreds of research studies and more than 1 million Ultherapy treatments performed, most patients do not have any side-effects. Even if they encounter side effects, most side effects are temporary (not permanent). 

Let’s find out more about the common side effects of Ultherapy treatment in Singapore.

Common Ultherapy Side Effects

Skin Redness

Skin redness is the most common side effect for Ultherapy treatment. This is because ultrasound energy is being delivered into the deeper layers of your skin in order to stimulate collagen production. The deep layers of your skin is typically heated up to approximately 50 to 70 degrees Celsius.

To put things into perspective, most laser treatments and skin tightening treatments will result in a few hours to days of skin redness. Ultherapy is no different.

You can expect skin redness from Ultherapy treatment to last between several hours to days (for patients with very sensitive skin). Every individual will have different amounts of skin redness from Ultherapy treatment. 

In order to mitigate this, you can consider post-treatment soothing masks to calm your skin down and to reduce redness. 

While most patients do not have significant skin redness after Ultherapy treatment, I routinely advise my patients to factor in 1-2 rest days after Ultherapy treatment in case they have prolonged skin redness.

Pain

The second most common concern when it comes to Ultherapy treatment is pain.

Pain or mild discomfort might be present during the Ultherapy treatment. 

In my practice, most patients are able to tolerate the treatment with topical anesthesia (numbing cream). Some may require oral pain killers to improve comfort levels. 

I also use a vibration device that helps to distract my patients from the discomfort.

I always try my best to make the Ultherapy treatment as comfortable for my patients as possible. Although many of my patients are willing to suffer for beauty, it doesn’t always have to be the case!

You might have heard that Ultherapy is very painful? This is due to Ultherapy treatments performed under the old protocol (higher power with fewer lines). 

Without sacrificing results and effectiveness, the updated Ultherapy Amplify protocol ensures less pain and discomfort by using lower power but more number of lines/ shots. This translates to a more comfortable Ultherapy treatment experience. 

If you are very concerned about pain, please speak to an experienced Ultherapy doctor to understand how to minimise discomfort during the procedure. 

Alternatively, you might want to consider other brands of ultrasound skin tightening treatments like Ultraformer HIFU, which might be less painful and have shorter treatment duration.

Slight Swelling

The third most common side effect is slight swelling during the first 1 to 3 days after the treatment. 

With the new Amplify protocol, which is gentler on the skin, face swelling is less common than before. 

Most of my patients do not have significant face swelling after Ultherapy. 

However, it is important to know that slight face swelling is still a possibility. Hence, schedule an Ultherapy treatment when you do not have any major social events within the first 3 days of treatment.

If you are bothered by your face swelling, you can consider cold calming facial masks to soothe your skin. In addition, we also offer oral medications to reduce swelling. 

Tingling Sensation and Tenderness

Due to the ultrasound stimulation of the deeper tissues of the face, some patients may feel tingling sensation and tenderness at certain areas of the face. 

The typical areas are the jawline, cheek bones and brows. 

The tingling sensation and tenderness usually resolves within 2 weeks.

This is why I always schedule a review appointment in 2 weeks for all my patients who have undergone Ultherapy treatment. This is to ensure that the potential side effects or complications are diagnosed early and treated promptly.

Temporary Numbness

Temporary numbness is one of the most rare side effects of Ultherapy. This is due to accidental irritation of nerves on your face. The temporary numbness might last from days to weeks.

This is why you should find an experienced Ultherapy provider for your Ultherapy treatment. 

In order to avoid the side effect of temporary numbness, I personally perform a detailed facial assessment for all my patients before the treatment. I also adhere strictly to the treatment protocols which clearly state the specific regions of the face to avoid. 

With a detailed facial assessment, good understanding of facial anatomy and experience in providing Ultherapy treatments, the risk of temporary numbness due to nerve irritation is very low.

Ultherapy is very safe when performed by an experienced doctor. The risk of temporary numbness is low. In addition, I do not know of any reported cases of permanent nerve impairment due to Ultherapy.

Ultherapy is one of the safest treatments for skin tightening and face lifting

In the realm of skin tightening and face lifting, Ultherapy is a non-invasive treatment and it is one of the safest options available. 

The alternatives to Ultherapy would be minimally invasive treatments like dermal fillers and thread lifts, and invasive options like face lift surgery.

I personally undergo Ultherapy treatment on a yearly basis for anti-aging purposes. So far, I have not had any side effects. 

Similar to myself, my patients have a demanding work schedule and family life. This is why they choose a non-invasive treatment like Ultherapy that yields natural results without going under the knife. Minimal downtime and safety are high on our priority list.

There have been certain concerns about “aging faster” after Ultherapy. These isolated reports originate from the UK and US. 

As a long-term Ultherapy treatment provider and a patient myself, I was definitely alarmed. I have vested interest in ensuring that the treatment is safe for my patients as well as myself. 

After doing my research and clarifying with Merz (principal of Ulthera devices and Ultherapy), these are the facts that I have gathered:

  1. The allegations and lawsuits made against Ultherapy have not been reported to be successful.
  2. US FDA and Europe CE have cleared the Ulthera device since 2009 and has not withdrawn this treatment from the market ever since. In fact, the number of US FDA approvals for Ultherapy has increased in number. The latest number of US FDA approvals for Ultherapy is 4. If Ultherapy is unsafe, the treatment and device would have been withdrawn from the US market and no new approvals would be granted. However, this is clearly not the case.
  3. More than 1.5 million treatments performed worldwide thus far. There aren’t many non-surgical skin tightening treatments that can rival Ultherapy in terms of track record. There are many reputable doctors around the world who offer this treatment and are patients of this treatment themselves. Most doctors will not continue to offer and undergo a treatment that is harmful. Compared to the total number of treatments performed worldwide, these allegations are rare and isolated cases.
  4. Apart from Ultherapy, many brands of ultrasound technology for skin tightening and non-surgical face-lifting has been approved in many countries without any safety issues. I also offer Ultraformer 3, which is a high intensity focused ultrasound device from Korea. As a technology, medical-grade ultrasound treatments are generally safe. Ultrasound has been used in medicine and healthcare for more than 50 years.

As a very cautious and risk-adverse doctor, my personal approach in choosing any treatment is to consider these factors:

  1. Safe and Effective treatment
  2. Experienced doctor
  3. Cost-effective treatment

Lastly, the authenticity of the device matters. There are fake Ultherapy machines out there. Go to a reputable clinic in Singapore that offers the real device to ensure that you are getting safe and effective treatments. 

Ultherapy treatment starts from $2000/ session for cheek areas. Find out more information now.