What to Know About Ultrasound for Face

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on May 21, 2023
4 min read

Ultrasound for face tightening is a fairly new treatment option for people with loose and sagging skin. The procedure helps rejuvenate the skin around the face without leaving behind surgical scars. It also minimizes downtime, as recovery is fast. Take note that the procedure is different from the one doctors use for medical imaging.

The procedure, also known as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), is non-invasive and painless. It relies on ultrasound energy to promote the creation of collagen, which is essential for firmer skin. HIFU is also effective in treating tumors, for brow lifts, and for refining wrinkles. When you undergo the procedure, you can see results within a few months, without the possible complications or side effects of surgery.

However, while the application of the procedure ranges from skin rejuvenation to tightening to lifting, the FDA is yet to approve it. More research and evidence are necessary to establish who the procedure suits best. HIFU is also not ideal for people with severe cases of sagging skin.

The device used in ultrasound skin tightening is much more helpful than laser devices. It penetrates 5 millimeters deep under the skin, reaching the second layer of muscles under the facial muscles. The ability to go this deep is crucial, as collagen production takes place in these lower layers.

The skin’s dermis layer contains most of the specialized structures and cells of the skin. It has decreasing capability to synthesize collagen once you hit the age of 20. For women, the estrogen levels decrease as they age, making the skin thinner and drier.

Through the ultrasound procedure, the dermis is stimulated to produce new collagen. The result is a younger and tighter-looking skin as the tissue provides more support to the skin.

Many reports have been published that show the procedure is effective and safe. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery says that ultrasound treatment for the face can:

Smooth wrinkles on the face. A study involving participants from Korea established the effectiveness of HIFU facials in improving how wrinkles appear. After the procedure, the skin around the cheeks, jaws, and mouth appeared smoother 3 to 6 months after being treated.

Improves skin elasticity. In a different study, researchers evaluated the procedure's effectiveness in 7-day, 4-week, and 12-week intervals. They found that the skin elasticity of the participants had improved in all the areas that had undergone treatment.

Improves both neck and facial skin. Researchers put 73 women and 2 men under observation after a HIFU procedure. The doctors examining the procedure indicated an 80% improvement in neck and facial skin. 

Reduces the appearance of jowls: Ultrasound penetrates below the skin's surface and works to firm up sagging jowls. It delivers treatment to the specific area that needs attention at optimal temperature, stimulating collagen production and firming up the skin.

Lifts drooping eyelids or eyebrows. Research shows that baggy eyelids can also benefit from ultrasound for facial lift. The lower eyelids commonly suffer from fat bulging, also known as baggy lower eyelids. The condition is common in adults and is a significant sign of aging. It also comes with lower eyelid skin laxity and wrinkles.

In a case involving a 70-year old man in Korea, micro-focused ultrasound procedures were used in treating the condition. The procedure showed significant improvements in the condition of the eyelid, to the satisfaction of the patient.

Tightens skin on the chest. Micro-focused ultrasound is now commonly being used to meet the public demand for skin tightening.

It focuses on subcutaneous tissue to promote collagen production. The application now extends to the chest area to tighten loose skin. When used with other rejuvenation techniques, the results are more pronounced. 

Every treatment method has its pros and cons. Ultrasound for a facelift is a relatively safe procedure when done by a trained and qualified practitioner. You also can resume your day-to-day activities immediately you leave the treatment office. However, be on the lookout for possible side effects or complications:

  • Redness which persists for more than a day after treatment
  • Skin tenderness that lasts longer than a month after treatment
  • Swelling that lasts longer than four weeks and doesn’t go away with a cold compress
  • Skin bleeding under the dermis which doesn’t resolve within two weeks
  • Grooves or scratch-like marks on the treated skin.

In rare cases, you may also experience palpable nodules under the skin or partial paresis of motor nerves. See your doctor in the event any of these complications appear after treatment.