Ultherapy or facelift for facial rejuvenation? While both can rejuvenate the face by reducing skin laxity, they work quite differently and so the ideal approach will depend on the patient’s underlying anatomy, amount of correction required, and aesthetic goals.
Ultherapy is an FDA-approved non-invasive treatment that tightens not just the skin but also the deeper soft tissue. Just like facelift, it also reaches the SMAS plane (fat, tissue, and muscle) by releasing ultrasound designed to bypass the skin in order to reach the deeper layers.
The ultrasound triggers more collagen production, leading to tighter skin. Nowadays, it is most commonly used to tighten the jawline, peri-orbital area (around the eyes and brows), neck, and décolletage (chest region that is visible when one is wearing a low neckline dress/top).
Most patients will only need one treatment, although a few may require a touch-up to achieve their desired results. Meanwhile, this 1-1.5 hour treatment provides rejuvenating effects that last 18-24 months.
One of the selling points of Ultherapy is the little to no downtime, a far outcry from the 1-2 weeks social recovery required by facelift surgery.
But as with any non-invasive facial rejuvenation treatment, Ultherapy only suits patients who require less amount of correction and thus it is commonly performed in people 50 years and younger.
For patients who require more correction, i.e., they are usually 55 years and older, the standard facelift still provides the best and most predictable results, says renowned Orange County plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley.
During facelift, the SMAS plane, which is beneath the skin, is elevated and tightened to create more chiseled jawline, smoother neck, and fuller cheeks/mid face. In addition, a small amount of excess skin is removed with the use of incision made behind the hairline that runs around the ear’s curvature for optimal scar concealment.
One caveat of facelift is the social recovery that often takes a week or two. Furthermore, it is only reserved for patients who are physically fit and have no healing problems.
The results of SMAS facelift, according to anecdotal reports, can last an average of 10-12 years. This is particularly true for patients with good skin elasticity and will receive touch-ups, which may be in the form of Ultherapy, fillers, medical-grade chemical peels, or a combination of them.