Is HIFU treatment really effective? Does it really work? You may have heard different or even contradictory things about HIFU; some people may think HIFU is ineffective, while others talk about HIFU’s excellent results. If you want to know whether HIFU really works or not, stay with us until the end of this article.
First and foremost, we need to bear in mind that no injections are given during a HIFU therapy session. Instead, ultrasound waves are used to stimulate the body to produce collagen. So, HIFU is a non-invasive skin rejuvenation therapy that makes use of your body’s natural resources. As a result, each person’s body may respond differently to HIFU treatment. Factors such as a person’s hormone levels, metabolic balance, diet, water, and caffeine intake, as well as their sleep patterns, can all contribute to the effectiveness of HIFU treatment. That is basically why some people have had satisfying results with HIFU while some others may not have had as effective results as they had expected.
What Is HIFU and How Is It Done?
To find out whether HIFU really works or not, we first need to talk about what HIFU therapy is and how it is performed. HIFU, which stands for High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, uses this form of energy to rejuvenate and repair the skin. HIFU treatment is a non-invasive rejuvenation technique that can target deep skin tissue that can only be repaired with plastic surgery but without cutting or scarring the skin surface. The waves used in HIFU therapy encourage the cells to make collagen by entering the deep layers of the skin.
Note that HIFU waves only target the surface under the skin and do not damage the underlying skin layer (epidermis). HIFU does not injure the surface of the skin because of the low energy of the waves at the moment of impact. These waves collide with each other in the deep layers of the skin, concentrating at one point and boosting energy levels. By focusing and amplifying the waves, the target point contracts and is stimulated to produce collagen. With HIFU therapy, face and neck skin lifting is performed without the need for surgery and mostly in just one session. HIFU therapy has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2009 and since then has been recognized as one of the most popular rejuvenation methods in the world.
Factors Affecting HIFU Results
Here are four key factors that can significantly affect the results of your HIFU treatment:
While it is true that the skill set of your therapist can bring out the best in any HIFU device, having the advantage of a more advanced machine can significantly affect treatment outcomes. So, as a first step, you can ask your therapist about the HIFU device that is used in their clinic because the type of device that is used in your HIFU treatment session does really have an effect on the overall results.
The Number of Shots
A HIFU device focuses ultrasound waves and delivers them to the surface of the skin. Each time the waves hit the surface of the skin is called a shot. Some dissatisfactory HIFU experiences may have originated from not having received enough number of shots. That is why some clinics state the number of shots used in their HIFU therapy procedure beforehand. In some other centers, the duration of the time that the device is used in a treatment session is reported as a yardstick for how effective the treatment you are going to get is.
For example, one center may cite a 45-minute-long HIFU session in their promotional material, while another center informs the client that they apply 400 shots as the appropriate benchmark in their HIFU treatment. Let’s focus on the average number of shots and the optimal time of using the HIFU device so that you can make a better decision when choosing a HIFU therapy provider.
Number of HIFU shots
The number of shots applied in a HIFU treatment session is between 350 and 500 shots, depending on how loose the skin area is. In most HIFU devices, the required number of shots in each area of the face is entered, and the device displays the total number of shots.
Duration of Treatment
the duration that the device runs to complete the treatment varies with each HIFU device, and typically high-tech devices take more shots per minute.
Passage of Time
HIFU results reach their fruition in three to six months. The lifting and repairing process in the areas of the skin where HIFU is done is completed over time. Most therapists consider the immediate effects of HIFU to be at 10%. Usually, between 90 to 180 days are considered necessary to achieve the final results. So, we need to bear in mind that the passage of time affects HIFU results.
The Age of the Person
Research has shown that the younger you are, the more effective HIFU treatment will be for you. As we age, our bodies become less and less efficient at producing collagen, and since HIFU basically works by stimulating our skin to produce more collagen, the results may not be as effective. As a result, in most people over the age of 65, HIFU results will be minimal.
Your Expectations of HIFU
Make sure to consult your therapist before the treatment and assess your expectations realistically. HIFU treatment improves mild looseness of the skin, tightens the skin, and may positively affect smaller, more superficial wrinkles. But if your skin is very loose and has deep wrinkles, this treatment will definitely not meet your expectations.
To significantly stretch the skin and completely remove the wrinkles, you may need a surgical facelift. However, facelift surgery usually comes with a host of side effects, while HIFU is a non-surgical and completely safe procedure that also costs much less than lift surgeries. So, having reasonable expectations about HIFU treatment is a must.
Scientific Research on the Effectiveness of HIFU
In this section, we will take a closer look at some interesting information about a scientific study on the effectiveness of HIFU.
A scientific study has actually answered the question of whether HIFU therapy really works or not. In this study published in 2015, 20 patients were studied after a HIFU session.
Before and After Photos of HIFU
You can see photos of a patient participating in this research in the images above. The images were evaluated before treatment (A and D), after three months from the treatment (B and E), and after six months (C and F). The improvement was significant after the first three months, but things got even better after six months had passed after the treatment.
In this study, two therapists performed HIFU therapy in seven areas of patients’ faces. Patients were photographed before HIFU was performed and also three to six months after HIFU. Then the images before and after HIFU, as well as the patients’ responses to a set of questions, were gathered and evaluated.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of HIFU and the levels of patient satisfaction after the treatment. After six months, participants in the research were asked two basic questions that can be considered very important in evaluating the effects of HIFU therapy.
Are you willing to continue the treatment? Participants were asked if they would redo HIFU after one year or not. And the results: 95% of the participants responded affirmatively.
Would you recommend HIFU treatment to others? In fact, this question can be the most fundamental one in the discussion of evaluating a treatment’s effectiveness. And the results: 90% said yes.
In Which Areas Is HIFU Most Effective?
Most participants were quite happy with the results they got from HIFU therapy on their jawline, cheeks, and areas around the mouth at 3 and 6 months after treatment. This efficacy was also evaluated 12 months after the treatment through telephone interviews or via email. Of the 15 patients who responded, four patients said that minor effects were still present in some areas.
According to the opinions of the experts and certified HIFU therapists, this treatment method, among other ways of rejuvenation, has the most significant impact on face and neck lifting. Of course, in addition to face and neck lifts, HIFU therapy is popularly used for the following purposes as well:
- Laugh line correction
- Improving jawline and eliminating double chin
- Surface reduction of wrinkles
- Removing acne and pimples
Side Effects Reported After HIFU Treatment
In terms of side effects, six patients reported some swelling, and two patients had mild bruising. These side effects disappeared after two weeks. No severe side effects, including lymphatic damage, blistering, or atrophy, were observed during the six months after the treatment.
Does HIFU Therapy Cause Skin Damage?
HIFU causes almost no side effects to the patient compared to surgery. In the surgical method, deep and large incisions are made on both sides of the face. Swelling, bruising, and in some cases, bleeding may occur after surgery.
Fortunately, none of this exists in HIFU. HIFU does not cause any cuts or injuries to the facial muscles. During HIFU, you may feel a little warm on the skin, which is tolerable and not a cause for concern.
In some cases, the skin may become slightly red and swollen after HIFU, which disappears after a short time. In general, it can be said with confidence that HIFU lifts and rejuvenates the skin without any side effects or damage.
Is HIFU a Good Alternative for Face Lift Surgery?
Surgery has a lot of pain and side effects. Fortunately, HIFU is really effective, and patients are happy with the painless facelift. HIFU treatment has made so much progress over the last 4 or 5 years that it is now much easier to do and causes minimal discomfort.
Methods like facelift surgery are really invasive as well as painful. HIFU is definitely a 100% non-invasive procedure that targets the skin and its underlying layers and does not involve incisions. HIFU can be a great alternative to facelift surgery. But you need to bear in mind that while HIFU is the safest method for a facelift available, there are also cases in which a person may require surgery.
We suggest that you discuss your expectations of HIFU therapy with your therapist at the clinic before treatment. HIFU is a non-invasive and uncomplicated skin rejuvenation method, after which you can resume your daily activities immediately. But you should not expect drastic and significant changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age is HIFU effective?
HIFU can be effective for most people under the age of 65.
Does HIFU have an effect on loose skin?
HIFU tightens the skin and improves very slight looseness. It would help if you discussed your expectations of the treatment with your therapist before having HIFU performed.
What is the correct number of HIFU shots?
The number of shots varies from person to person. But in general, the therapist is going to choose something between 350 and 500 shots depending on the extent of looseness in the skin.
Will there be downtime after HIFU treatment?
There is no downtime after HIFU therapy, and you can continue your normal activities after the treatment.
Will I need more than one session of treatment?
Most patients need only one session of HIFU treatment. However, some may need more.
Is HIFU treatment different from laser therapy?
Laser usually removes fine lines, wrinkles, and pigment changes in the outer layers of the skin, while in HIFU treatment, the deep layers of the skin and the underlying layer are targeted like cosmetic surgery. So, these two technologies can be considered complementary but work differently. HIFU is a safer treatment than laser. After observing the results of its safety in clinical studies and after tens of thousands of treatments that have been performed around the world, it can be said with certainty that HIFU is the safest known technique for lifting and tightening facial skin.