No matter how meticulous our beauty regimen and no matter how expensive the gloop we apply to it, at some stage our facial skin is going to start to sag and droop. It’s only natural: from the age of 30 or even younger, the skin starts producing less collagen, the stuff that keeps it firm and elastic.
Unfortunately, human biology lags way behind science’s technological advances. And unless the boffins come up with some serious genetic transplant wizardry, our DNA is never going to catch up with the fact that we’re 21st century foxes.
As far as our genes are concerned, we’re no different from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who could expect to mate at the age of eleven and perhaps survive a decade or two of giving birth every ten months before declining into wizened, toothless, 40-year-old hagdom and being carried out to die on a mountain top.
When the carrion eagles are circling, a bit of facial sagging is perhaps not your immediate priority.
Lights, Sound, Action!
Ten years ago, it took me a while to get my head around the medical uses of laser light – whether for surgery, or for treating acne-scarring and other skin conditions. Now it seems that just about any source of energy can be used for anti-ageing treatments. Forms of light such as laser, IPL (intense pulsed light) and infrared have all been developed for use in various ways to make our skins smoother, clearer, tauter and younger-looking.
Then there was radiofrequency (RF): Thermage, for example, uses RF waves to work its magic. However, it’s not equally effective on all skins as it is on the sort of fine, thin skin that fair Caucasians like me tend to have. I underwent it about six months ago, and genuinely felt that it made a difference. But we’re never completely satisfied, are we?
And now there’s ultrasound! So I’m keen as mustard when Dr Valentin Low, the angel of cutting-edge anti-ageing cosmetic procedures, suggests I try out Ultherapy, the ultrasound lift.
How does Ultherapy work?
This non-invasive, focused treatment uses the body’s own natural regenerative response to gently and gradually restore its previous youthful contours. The ultrasound energy is directed at the SMAS layer of muscle, which is what a plastic surgeon would work on in the course of a surgical facelift. By heating the tissue, it stimulates the body’s own collagen response for lifting and tightening the skin.
My face is cleansed, and the lovely Dr Low gets straight to work. He doesn’t generally bother much with topical anaesthetic, anyway, and particularly not with Ultherapy; it wouldn’t help much for the deeper level of skin that the ultrasound treats.
The medical use of ultrasound is nothing new; like me, you’ve probably experienced its healing benefits at the physiotherapist’s rooms. And as Valentin says, “We’ve all seen images of ultrasound scans of the pregnant womb, and that’s what’s so great about Ultherapy, too: while I’m working, I can actually see the underlying skin structures on this screen, and target them accurately and effectively.”
Much higher levels of ultrasound are applied here than at the physio’s or gynae’s, though, and I can’t help wincing and yelping a bit as he moves the applicator upwards from my jaw line, on my neck and finally above the brow line. But it doesn’t last for long, ten minutes tops, and after resting for a while with an icy gel to cool my skin, I’m good to go. Areas of slight redness disappear within an hour or two.
What can I expect?
Just one treatment initiates the regenerative process, and the full effect builds gradually over two to three months. What’s more, these are US FDA-tested and approved claims: in a 2009 clinical trial, nine out of 10 subjects experienced a noticeable lift of the brow line, reduced skin laxity and a more youthful look in the eye area. They also reported “firmer, tighter, better-fitting skin” in other areas of the face and neck … and skin that fits is indubitably a good idea, except for Shar Peis.
If, like me, you’re not ready for the downtime, swelling, bruising, pain and expense of a surgical facelift, and want a subtle but significant tightening effect, Ultherapy is probably your best option right now.
Dr Valentin Low Aesthetic & Laser Clinic is at #08-03 Paragon Medical Suites. Call 6720 3438.
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