When it comes to battling gravity’s take down of my face, I’m willing to fight back with currents, lasers, injections, microneedles, radio frequencies and probably the scalpel, eventually. But I’m in no rush to go the surgery route.
Still, the subtle drooping of my jawline was making me angsty. I blame it on all those Zoom meetings— I can’t unsee the unflattering image of myself in that mean little grid. And I’m not alone. According to a 2020 survey published in Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, 40% of respondents who had never tried cosmetic procedures before have been inspired to pursue them as a result of how they look on video-conferencing platforms.
Since I have my ear to the ground on all things new and exciting in the skin-tech realm, I’ve been hearing a lot about Sofwave, an in-office ultrasound device that rebuilds collagen — the scaffolding that provides strength and structure to the body — with zero post-treatment down time. I was excited to try it because let’s be honest, you can’t drink enough collagen-rich bone broth to do the heavy lifting.
So, I headed to see Lee Ann Klausner, MD, PLLC, a facial plastic surgeon in New York City whose practice includes a comprehensive suite of non-surgical tools. Fair or not, I like the pros I enlist — whether they be personal trainers, hair colorists, dermatologists or cosmetic physicians — to be walking advertisements of their craft. Dr. Klausner is.
Since no sedation is required to have the procedure, I used my time in the doctor’s chair to ask her everything you’d want to know about Sofwave.
What is Sofwave™?
“It’s a safe next-generation ultrasound technology that uses a Synchronous Ultrasound Parallel Beam (SUPERB™). Ultrasound can bypass the surface of the skin and focus in at very specific depths to manipulate the sound wave to create a heat wound. To heal that wound, the body deposits new collagen and reacts with contraction, which is the tightening that we’re looking for. Sofwave goes to a precise 1.5 mm depth (the mid-dermal layer) and covers a larger surface area then previous ultrasound devices, so you can cover more territory faster.”
What Issues Does Sofwave Address?
“The main benefits are improvements to laxity and fine wrinkles. Because it’s so targeted, we know Sofwave is very effective at treating the skin in ways that can tighten and smooth it through collagen and elastin production. Other technologies that go deeper can impact the fat, which isn’t always a good thing… there are places you don’t want to disturb or diminish volume, like the cheeks. The main areas that Sofwave is FDA-approved to target are the brow (for lift) the jawline, under the chin and the neck.” [Editor’s note: Anecdotally, there is reason to believe that good results can be achieved in the eye area, as well as potentially treating areas of the body such as the abdomen and above the knees.]
By the way, if you want to learn exactly how the structure of your face shifts over time, check out this illuminating piece on the four pillars of aging.
Is it Painful?
“Most patients find it less stingy or painful than other ultrasound technologies, such as Ultherapy. For one, it has a cooling tip. But also, the intensity crescendos with a wave sensation (hence, the name) with just a fine end point of discomfort. I use a pharmaceutical-grade numbing cream and leave it on for 30 minutes before the procedure, which makes it very tolerable.”
How Long Does a Session Take and How Many Do You Need?
“The treatment is pretty fast. After numbing, a session is usually completed in 30 to 45 minutes. I recommend one session and then annually for maintenance. Remember, Sofwave doesn’t wear off — but as you get older, you need to keep laying down more collagen. You want to keep things tight, but you don’t want to overtreat — moderation and thoughtful application are key. Sofwave is also great for younger people who have an ill-defined jawline hereditarily.”
When Can You Expect to See Results?
“Some people say they notice a slight tightening in the first few weeks. Or you may see results after a month that keep evolving. But typically, improvements occur gradually over 3 to 6 months; that timeline follows the healing process, including the formation and reorganization cycle of new collagen.”
Can It Be Combined With Other Procedures?
“Yes. Off label it can be combined with Ultherapy for areas of the face that could benefit from targeting the deeper layers. You can also get fillers the same day in, say, the lips or cheeks after the procedure — but some patients want to wait to see results before they make other cosmetic decisions. [Editor’s note: Some providers prefer not to inject neurotoxins or fillers 48 hours before or after Sofwave, so don’t plan on the full Monty.] Another point to make: If you’re not ready for surgery but are considering it down the road, Sofwave can set you up for an optimal surgical result because it gets the skin in better condition.”
Speaking of lip fillers, if you’re afraid-slash-curious to get them, read this.
A Few More Thing to Know About Sofwave:
The price depends on the location of your provider and the area (or areas) being treated. In New York City, getting the works —brow, jaw, chin and neck will set you back between $3,500 and $5,000. Single areas are less, obviously. If you just want to treat under your chin, for example, that will run you about $800-$1,000.
Sofwave’s clinical studies showed no adverse effects. And though it’s safe for all skin types and tones (even dark skin), if you’re prone to hyperpigmentation any heat-producing treatment may make you more susceptible. Discuss any concerns with your provider before treatment. In addition, if you are prone to cold sores, you may want to take medication (such as valacyclovir) before treatment to ward off a potential outbreak.
My No-Bs Review:
There were moments of “spicy” sensations in thinner-skinned areas, but they were so fleeting that I barley had a chance to clench my fist before they vanished. And regardless, a teeny bit of pain is well worth the potential gain here. There really was no down time. Though there can be very slight swelling, I didn’t notice any and I was able to put make up on and go about my day immediately after leaving Dr. Klausner’s office.
Now, for the drumroll: As a former magazine editor who has had the opportunity to test-drive a lot of new products and procedures, I’ve learned to manage my expectations. But I have to say, at the three-month mark, my satisfaction rating is an 8 out of 10… and things should continue to improve for the next few months. My jawline definitely looks less wavy, tauter, which was my chief ambition in having Sofwave done. I also see improvements in my neck and brow area, though now that my jawline looks better, I am zeroing in on how to get my neck in envy-inspiring shape. One option: Some providers suggest getting a second Sofwave treatment 3 to 4 months after the first, which I would be willing to do it if Dr. Klausner thought it was advisable.
Normally, I don’t have this kind of zeal for a procedure (so many overpromise and underdeliver). But so far, Sofwave is holding up to the hype.
Want to give it a go? You can find a Sofwave provider here.
Photo credit: This image is from Turner & Hooch on Disney+, 2021. A droopy face is cute on this hound, but not on the rest of us.