Ulthera Made Me Look Younger
Medical Beauty

Ulthera Took Five Years Off My Face

As a veteran beauty editor, I’ve been able to test out more than my fair share of skin treatments—everything from electrotherapy to Botox and back again—in an effort to look younger than my years. As founder of Sculptologie, working out and eating healthy are an important part of my life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go in search of ways to look younger (the a$$ vs. face dilemma is a real thing). I’ve tried Thermage. I investigated TruSculpt 3D. And most recently, I discovered a new favorite weapon to add to my anti-aging arsenal: Ulthera.

“I LOOK 5 YEARS YOUNGER.” (HINT: IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF THE SMOOTHIE) 

Ulthera isn’t new. It’s been around for a while, but I’ve been hesitant to try it. Why? It’s expensive and I’d heard it can be painful. Plus, as with other skin tightening procedures (Thermage, for example), it would take up to three months to see results and—as if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent—different patients respond differently to the treatment.

Still, I remained somewhat curious about the procedure. Two of my dermatologist friends suggested I try it to help improve the look of my nasal labial folds, which had become more pronounced after I’d lost body fat from my new fitness regimen.

When I was talking to a friend of mine about my interest in the procedure, she said she knew the guy I had to see if I was going to do it: Dr. Matthew White. He was a part of the team that developed the technology. So I called Dr. White’s office the next day. He was so busy that I couldn’t get into see him for a couple of months, but I made the appointment anyway.

I’m glad I did. Not only did Ulthera work, but the way Dr. White performed the procedure made it nearly painless (unlike my Thermage experience). And the results I had—yes, it took about three months to see them—were nothing short of incredible. Everyone I knew commented on how well-rested I looked, despite the fact that I was going through an incredibly stressful time in my life, and one friend said I “never looked better”. Looking in the mirror, my nasal labial lines weren’t as pronounced and the skin on my cheeks and jawline looked firmer. If I had to guess, I’d say the procedure took about five years off my face. Score! Look how rested and glowing I look!

HOW ULTHERA WORKS IN THE FACELIFT LAYER (AKA SMS)

Ulthera works on what Dr. White calls the “facelift” layer of the face. It’s called the SMAS, which is basically the connective tissue layer beneath the sub-dermal layer of skin and above the facial muscles. It’s what doctors recontour when you get a surgical face or neck lift.

All energy devices (think lasers, radiofrequency or RF devices, and ultrasound) work by manipulating the body’s own natural wound-healing mechanisms. “They create a ‘wound’ within the facial tissues, and the body responds by creating new collagen. Ulthera uses highly targeted ultrasound technology to go deeper than other energy devices and reach that critical SMAS layer. Lasers are more superficial so they help to improve the surface of the skin, but for tightening the deeper ‘facelift’ layers, Ultherapy is much better,” says Dr. White.

WHO SHOULD GET ULTHERA?

Dr. White says he sees the best results in patients (like me) who are just beginning to notice signs of aging and who already take good care of themselves. The reason why lifestyle matters is because the procedure relies on your own body’s ability to heal itself. Therefore someone who exercises regularly (might I suggest classes at Sculptologie?), eats a healthy diet, and is in a good medical condition will likely see better results than someone who isn’t focusing on optimizing their health. “We rely on the body’s own wound-healing mechanisms to stimulate fibroblast activity to build new collagen in the layers of the face,” explains Dr. White.

The procedure is also great for individuals who have not really seen signs of aging yet, but who want to “bank” collagen and prevent aging and, conversely, facelift patients who want to amplify their results. The before-and-after pictures from this last category are the most dramatic, according to Dr. White.

Dr. White recommends patients who are close to getting a facelift to have two treatments, three months apart. But for those who are looking to bank collagen or are just starting to notice signs of aging, there’s often significant improvement from one treatment, with booster treatments every one to two years.

WE AREN’T COMPLAINING, BUT WHY DOESN’T IT HURT MORE?

When I had my procedure, it really didn’t hurt and I was almost disappointed. No pain, no gain…right? So I went home from Dr. White’s office feeling a little skeptical that I was going to see much change in my face. The next morning, however, I woke up to an extremely sore face. It felt like the day after one of my baby showers, where I’d spent three solid hours smiling from ear-to-ear. Washing my face, I had to be gentle—that’s how sore it was. And that’s when I knew something major had happened. But it hadn’t hurt during the procedure. I emailed Dr. White and asked him how that was possible. His response: “I have been working on a technique that really helps reduce pain.” I prodded him for the specifics, which he listed as follows:

1. We move around during the treatment to allow the heat to diffuse so that you are not delivering energy lines right on top of one another.

2. I lift the soft tissue off the facial bone structure. It is almost like a facial massage. It brings the facial soft tissue far away from the sensory nerves.

3. We sometimes use a nerve distraction device. It diverts the attention of the brain away from perceiving discomfort.

4. Cool air. Cool air on the surface of the skin can be very soothing during the treatment.

5. Gossip!

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THIS TECHNOLOGY?

With results this good, I basically would like to dip my whole body in Ulthera (especially my tummy). As it turns out, Dr. White has been performing Ulthera (it is FDA-approved for use on the neck and brow and to improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the décolleté) on the knees, abdomen, buttocks, and arms with “encouraging” results. Soon, Merz Pharma, the company that manufactures the Ulthera system, is expected to release a transducer—the piece that delivers the ultrasound technology to the skin—that can address larger areas of the body and make these procedures faster and easier. I’m excited to see the future of the technology and its amazing results!

Tatiana and Heather Marr’s new book 28 Days to Strong is full of workout tips, recipes, and guidance on mindfulness. If you’re in NYC, you can also book workout classes with Tatiana for in-person tips.

The top image is from Tatiana’s Instagram, @tatiboncompagni.

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