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Is Ultherapy the same as HIFU?

By Georgia Seago
23rd June 2022

What’s the difference between these two tweakments that both used the power of focused ultrasound?  HIFU is the shorthand acronym for High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, a type of skin-tightening treatment that uses ultrasound waves at high intensity. Rather than pulsing straight at the skin, these waves are angled into the skin from different sides of the device’s treatment head, so that they meet at a point well below the surface of the skin – between 1.5mm and 4.5mm below the surface –  and that’s where they go to work creating a zap of heat. So they don’t heat up the surface of the skin, as a laser would, but work more deeply, which is how they can tighten and lift the skin.

HIFU is a technology, Ultherapy is a brand…

There are different types of HIFU treatments on offer, some of which are branded. Any of them can be called HIFU, as this is the type of treatment rather than a brand, in the way that not all vacuum cleaners are Hoovers.

Ultherapy is one such brand of HIFU, and probably the most well-known. It’s the only ultrasound-based treatment device to have achieved FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) clearance for its stated claim of lifting the skin. It works in the same basic way as all HIFU devices – it delivers ultrasound technology to create a thermal effect at the deeper levels of the skin to stimulate the body’s production of collagen and elastin, thus lifting for tighter, firmer skin.

But there a few key points with Ultherapy that the manufacturer describes as USPs: it utilises ‘micro-focused’ ultrasound waves that allow the energy to penetrate deeper than some other HIFU devices, and it does this in less than an hour, without any downtime.

As well as treating the whole face, Ultherapy can be applied specifically for a non-surgical ‘brow lift’ and can also be used to lift the neck and chin and improve lines and wrinkles on the upper chest. Dr Tracy Mountford, founder of The Cosmetic Skin Clinic – named the UK and Ireland’s number one Ultherapy provider – says of the treatment, “…Because of the unique technology you can actually tighten the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) muscle, which is the muscle that surgeons tighten when they do a surgical face-lift. So, it’s a very clever piece of technology and, when used well, can give really, really good results.”

…and there are other brands of ultrasound-based tweakments tech that are just as good

There are other HIFU devices on the market – like Ultracel, Ultraformer III and HIFU Lab, and there are also new non-HIFU ultrasound devices like Sofwave, which delivers ultrasound energy in a different way – and every practitioner will have good reasons behind their personal choice of tech. So, find someone you trust, tell them you’re interested in HIFU, and they’ll tell you what they think is best for you – Ultherapy, other HIFU treatment or otherwise.




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