A working mother’s foray into Ultherapy

Quick as a pinch

  • 18.10.2021
  • By Emily Heng

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Being a working mother of a preschooler and a toddler amidst a pandemic can take a mighty toll. In my case, it is reflected on my face, where I’ve noticed sagging along the cheek and jawline area as well as the emergence of fine lines and wrinkles. The new normal entails taking care of my kids whilst attending countless Zoom meetings; a reality that has compounded into many unwelcome additions on my mien.

Coupled with age, and it’s clear to see why my skin has started to lose its elasticity and firmness. After researching for possible treatments, I came across Merz Aesthetics’ line of treatments. Enter: The non-surgical and a no-knife option known as Ultherapy.

The premise
Ultherapy — also known as “Ulthera” — is the only non-invasive skin lifting and tightening treatment cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its primary purpose is to lift the skin on the neck, under the chin, and along the brows. No surgical incisions are made as the treatment only uses micro-focused ultrasound energy to stimulate the growth of new collagen, which thus improves the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The result is a tightening and gradual lifting of the skin, hence achieving a “facelift effect” — the skin is firmer, less saggy, with fewer wrinkles.

With Ultherapy, doctors are now able to deliver microfocused ultrasound energy with pin-point accuracy to target both the dermis and the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS) where skin laxity begins. The SMAS is the deep foundational layer of skin that was previously only accessible with a surgical facelift. The micro-focused ultrasound energy will trigger a new collagen production from within the skin to produce a gradual lifting effect over a period of 90 days. Given that no surgical incisions are required, there is little to no downtime and patients can go back to their daily routine immediately. Sweet.

The procedure
I haven’t had much experience with aesthetic treatments, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first consultation with Dr Felix Li from Dr Felix Li Medical Aesthetics Clinic. Luckily, his detailed explanation of what to expect put me at ease. And just like that, Dr Felix began preparing me for the treatment. Numbing cream was applied on my face 45 minutes prior of the treatment. Once the numbing cream was wiped off, Dr Felix then proceeded to apply the cold ultrasound gel on my face.

Dr Felix first placed the applicator device on my face, where he adjusted the intensity according to my comfort level. As the device comes with real-time visualization screen, it enables the doctor to see precisely what layer of tissue he is treating. This, in turn, serves to reassure patients as to the safety and efficacy of the treatment and allows for personalisation according to individual needs. Ultherapy delivers the ultrasound energy to the skin at 3 discrete depths — 1.5mm, 3.0mm, and 4.5mm without disrupting the skin surface or intervening tissue. Once applied, you will feel a warm sensation coursing through your skin. This indicates that the collagen building process has been stimulated. The sensation only lasts while the applicator is on that location.

I am not going to lie — the pain was pretty pronounced for me. To be entirely fair, I’m new to aesthetic treatments and am lacking a point of comparison. It was more significant particularly at certain points — when Dr Felix placed the applicator device on the edge of my face, for one, as well as near the jawline and neck. This was understandable given these areas’ skin was thinner or bonier than the rest.

The payoff
The amazing part about Ultherapy is that there is little to no downtime for it. I’m told the recovery period for each person varies, too, so I was relieved not to have experienced any pain or bruising. I felt a little sore in my jawline area after the numbing cream wore off, but it didn’t last past a day. The swelling started the very next morning, and I sported a bloated visage for about two weeks. As for the results, I’m told that it varies according to individuals, too. Personally, I started seeing a marked difference after two months, where my jawline became significantly more define. My wrinkles and laugh lines were a lot less discernable, too.

All in all, I’d say the pain was a worthwhile trade-off. I was considering radio-frequency skin tightening treatments and botulinum toxin injections at one point, but the potential side effects scared me off. Ultherapy, on the other hand, works as the perfect in-between, where it is able to grant (arguably!) similar results without having to go under the knife. I guess this is what they mean when they say no pain, no gain, right? I’ll take it.

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