Ever noticed how our skin starts to show signs of ageing as we grow older? That includes the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. While the ageing process is inevitable, we can reduce its visibility and age without looking older.
A HIFU treatment, which is short for High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, is a non-invasive aesthetic treatment for facial ageing. It works by using ultrasound energy to create heat deep inside your skin to stimulate its natural healing process and simultaneously, encourage collagen production.
With collagen being the most abundant protein in the body, it’s responsible for providing strength and elasticity to your skin. As we age, the production of collagen in your body starts to deplete by 1% per year, starting from when you’re in your twenties. Thus, the sagging skin and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Although this procedure is relatively new in the aesthetic industry, it has been used in the medical field to treat a wide range of tumours and diseases. Bear in mind that the type of ultrasound used in a facial procedure is different from the ones used for medical imaging.
In the aesthetic industry, a skin specialist like Dr Ginny will administer the HIFU treatment by using a handheld device that emits the ultrasound energy in short bursts. Before that, the specialist will clean the chosen area on your skin and apply a gel to minimise discomfort during the treatment.
Compared to the medical procedure which may last a few hours, a HIFU facial treatment typically lasts between 30-60 minutes. The best part about this treatment is that there’s no downtime. Which means you can get on with your daily activities after the treatment.
While these non-invasive facial treatments are somewhat similar in terms of benefits, they differ in terms of the type of ultrasound energy delivered and the depth of energy penetration.
Before we look at the differences, let’s look at the benefits of these treatments.
• Non-invasive – As mentioned several times throughout this article, HIFU doesn’t require the patient to go under the knife (surgery) for facelift and skin tightening. Instead, the handheld device delivers ultrasound energy deep into the skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production.
• No injections – In surgical procedures, injections are almost inevitable as doctors administer the anaesthesia into your skin. HIFU treatment, on the other hand, only requires proper cleaning and the application of a certain gel on the chosen area.
• Minimal downtime – Compared to surgical methods which require the patient to stay in the hospital for recovery, the result of a HIFU treatment is instantaneous and you can get back to your daily routine immediately after the procedure.
Type of ultrasound beams
Ultherapy delivers micro-focused ultrasound (MFU) beams while HIFU delivers highly-intense and focused ultrasound beams into the skin. While the former delivers a focused heat on the chosen area, it may take up to three months to see the results. HIFU on the other hand delivers consistent heat for instant results.
Depth of energy penetration
The conventional Ultherapy can only penetrate to the depths of 4.5mm and 3mm while HIFU can penetrate up to several depths such as 4.5mm, 3mm, 2mm and 1.5mm. That way, it can create a better face lifting effect along with skin tightening.
HIFU uses focused ultrasound energy to target layers of your skin beneath the surface. That energy is then converted into heat, causing your skin cells to heat up until they experience cellular damage.
Though it seems contradictory, the damage encourages your skin cells to enhance the production of collagen whilst allowing the natural rejuvenation process to take place. Thus, giving you tighter and firmer skin. As the highly-focused beams target a chosen area, there’ll be no damage to the surrounding areas of your skin.
This depends on the number of sessions you opt for and the condition of your ageing skin. However, HIFU may not be suitable for everyone. According to a study conducted on 20 Korean patients in 2015, the procedure works best on those above 30 years of age with mild-to-moderate skin laxity.
If you have a high degree of loose skin, you may need several treatments before you can see the results. For older people with severe skin laxity, HIFU may not be an appropriate treatment.
As the largest organ on your body, the skin is capable of healing itself given the right condition.
However, there are times when you need to boost the healing process. If you’re looking to age slowly, a skin specialist clinic such as Dr Ginny Clinic can provide tailored treatments based on your skin condition.