Ultrasound is an amazing technology. It has been used as a tool to visualize the inside of the body such as in fetal sonograms, a treatment to soothe and heal muscle injuries during physical therapy, and as a device to treat illnesses such as a lithotripsy machine which breaks up kidney stones. Ultrasound works by creating sound waves that bounce off body structures which can be imaged on a computer screen. Low levels of heat are also produced in the process so if the ultrasound energy is focused on a specific area, the heat or vibration can be used as a treatment.
Now an Arizona-based company called Ulthera has figured out a way to use ultrasound as an alternative to a common plastic surgery procedure. Ulthera received FDA approval in 2009 to sell a medical ultrasound device to perform non-invasive eyebrow lifts. What is unique about this new device is that it uses ultrasound to visualize and “see” what the skin looks like under the surface then delivers calculated ultrasonic energy waves that stimulates the body’s healing response to lay down new collagen.
According to the Ulthera website, clinical evaluations were performed at Northwestern University with three independent physician evaluators. Nine out of ten treated patients showed significant eyebrow lift appearance within 90 days and reported “firmer, tighter skin in other areas of the face and an overall refreshed appearance as well.” Treatment time is approximately 30 minutes and minimal side effects of swelling or redness may occur and last a couple of days in some people.
Given the cost and risk of eyebrow lift surgery and even the cost and risk of injecting Botox®, a common non surgical procedure used to improve eyebrow height, ultrasound eyebrow treatments shows promise in attracting quite a following.
The cost of an eyebrow lift varies depending on the part of the country and type of procedure performed but, according to the doctors at realself.com, easily runs $6,000 and up. As in any surgery, there are risks of nerve damage, scarring, infection and prolonged recuperation time.
Botox® injections cost between $300 to $700. Botox® is injected to paralyze muscles that are pulling down the eyebrow allowing the other muscles to pull the eyebrows up. This gives the appearance of an eyebrow lift. Botox® injections mostly have mild side effects but do run the risk of muscle drooping and facial asymmetry.
According to Ulthera, their ultrasound eyebrow device is being sold to dermatologists for approximately $90,000 and they are leaving the procedure charge costs to the doctors and the free market. I did find one doctor’s site who advertised a forehead and temple ultrasound treatment for $780 with higher fees for the rest of the face.
Since ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that has low risk of side effects, even a woman who has never thought of trying a cosmetic procedure might consider an Ulthera treatment. Additionally, if there is good success in its use, this ultrasound alternative to plastic surgery will likely be tried on other parts of the face or body or to treat other skin conditions.
Imagine all those dieters who want to lose weight but dread the prospect of loose skin on their face or abdomen. Skin tightening ultrasound spas might start cropping up all over the country.
In the meantime, the company has already branched into developing a consumer line for acne treatment called www.xThetix.com . Currently this is only a home page without more information on how it helps acne.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles