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Does Ultherapy Hurt?

As we age, our skin develops laxity as collagen and elastin dwindle. For some, the idea of surgery just isn’t an option and non-invasive treatments like Ultherapy can provide them with moderate results with less downtime. But does the lack of downtime come at the cost of pain? Does Ultherapy really hurt?

If you aren’t familiar with Ultherapy, it’s an FDA approved treatment for skin tightening of the face, neck and chest. Ultherapy targets the deep, foundational layers of your skin with focused ultrasound energy to produce heat and stimulate new collagen formation. Ultherapy targets tissue that lasers and other non-invasive treatment options are unable to reach.  In fact, Ultherapy targets the same depth a surgeon would go to for a facelift!

So, does Ultherapy hurt? In short, somewhat. The extent of discomfort can depend on a few things. The area being treated and how you prep for the treatment are the two biggest influences on discomfort.

Ultherapy can be used to treat the face, neck, chest, and even areas on the body. Many patients opt to treat smaller areas, like the brow, for a lift. Typically, the longer the treatment, the more it hurts. A quick 15-minute brow appointment will be a breeze compared to a 1.5 hour full face and neck. Treating areas directly over bone, like the jawline, tend to have more discomfort.

At Aesthetic Solutions, we offer two different ways to prep for Ultherapy. For patients treating larger areas like their full face, neck or chest we can provide you with anti-anxiety and pain medication. This really takes the edge off, but it will require you to have a driver. Patients choosing this option usually describe the treatment as low on a discomfort scale. Patients usually feel warmth and a deep “tingling”.

ProNox is another tool we can use to make patients feel more comfortable. Made of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrus oxide, this is like the laughing gas you would get at the dentist. It’s just enough to take the edge of, and the best part is you can drive yourself home after only 15 minutes! Patients treating smaller areas like the brow will opt for ProNox. When asked how treatment feels, these patients experience a bit more discomfort than those taking oral medications. Have you ever been shocked by static electricity? Those little tingles are often what patients compare the treatment to.

There are a few general theories our providers have found when it comes to discomfort, although they have not been backed by any official clinical data. In general, patients who are either on, or within a few days of, their menstrual cycle tend to be more pain sensitive. If you have a low pain threshold, you may want to consider this when scheduling. Usually, patients who are more hydrated have an easier time during the treatment, so you may want to increase your water intake a couple days prior to treatment! Last, patients with thicker skin experience less discomfort than patients with thin skin. This is most easily observed in men, whose thick skin often makes treatment a breeze (plus, men love that their friends and family can’t tell they’ve had something done as results develop gradually)!

We asked a staff member “Does Ultherapy hurt”. Here’s her response: Yeah, it kind of does. This sounds weird, but it’s almost like an electric buzz happening deep in your skin. It is manageable though, and the best part is the lack of downtime. With laser resurfacing you’ll want to stay inside for about 5 days, and a facelift could be even longer (and is certainly not without pain either!). Ultherapy lets me get a little lift and immediately go back to my routine. Swelling is normal, but not very noticeable by others. I like that results develop gradually over the course of many months as the new collagen forms so you’re constantly seeing improvement. I’ve done Ultherapy, Halo Pro and Fraxel, and from a pain perspective, I actually prefer Ultherapy! With lasers I feel every little thing, with Ultherapy the meds take most of the edge off.

When weighing the benefits vs. the risks, it’s important to remember what Ultherapy is doing. It is delivering heat to stimulate collagen at the deep, foundational layers of your skin, so it’s normal to feel a little pain. After all, no pain, no gain. Right? The good news is that the majority of patients experience little to no discomfort, and for those who do we have measures in place to make the experience as comfortable as possible.