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What Risks Are Involved with Ultherapy?

What are the poential risks of ultherapy? What should one consider before having this treatment?

Doctor Answers 17

Ultherapy Risks

All medical treatments have risks associated with their use. It is important to select a physician who is experienced in performing any procedure. Potential adverse events associated with Ultherapy include temporary nerve injury or nerve palsy IF the provider treats the area overlying the nerve. Welts or red areas of swelling and bruising are possible. Rarely, thermal burns can occur due to inaccurate position of hand piece technique or patient movement during treatment.

Washington DC Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Ultherapy Risks

Ultherapy has been cleared by the FDA after demonstrating safety in clinical studies, and over 100,000 treatments have been performed safely worldwide. In addition, ultrasound energy has a proven track record, with use in the field of medicine for more than 50 years. What I tell my patients is: "It hurts, but it works." The heat felt during treatment can be controlled with topical and/or oral anesthesia. As for potential side effects, there may be slight redness for up to an hour or so following the treatment, and a small percentage of patients may have slight swelling, bruising, tingling, tenderness or sensitivity to touch, but these are mild and temporary in nature. My patients have seen tremendous results from Ultherapy to the face, neck, and chest.

Mary Hurley, MD
Dallas Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Ultherapy is a safe procedure

Diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound uses the ALARA principle and is safe without known adverse effects given the power and intensity settings of such devices. SPTA and SATA levels are safe. 

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Risks with Ultherapy

The Ulthera company has strived to create a safe treatment above all else since the beginning.  It uses the same ultrasound that pregnant women use to visualize the levels of skin and muscle. In experienced hands, risks are minimal.  The most common things that can happen are mild bruising and swelling after the treatment.  Another thing that can happen are small areas of swelling under the skin or welts can be seen if the patient or the practicioner moves during the treatment.  Rarely, the patient can experience numbness, particularly of the ear, or a weakness in the lower lip.  By going to an experienced physican who is very familiar with the anatomy of the face and neck, they will be able to avoid the areas where nerves are while ensuring a good treatment.

Angela Sturm, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews


There aren’t any major risk or contraindications for Ultherapy as long as proper treatment protocol is followed. What should be considered prior to treatment is how much collagen and sagging skin exists. Ultherapy responds to collagen so depending on how much collagen and/or loose skin you have will determine the success of your treatment. If you are younger your skin naturally has more collagen and should respond much better to Ultherapy vs. someone who is older with sagging skin. Consult with a board certified facial plastic surgeon to see if Ultherapy or an alternative treatment, such as a face lift, is right for you and what the benefits and risks are.

James Chan, MD
Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Ultherapy is very safe

The most common side effect is sweling.  The next most common side effect is development of slighly tender nodules under your skin that may last a few weeks that you can only feel but not see.  numbness is extremely rare and only a handful has ever been reported in hands on inexperienced doctors.  Make sure your doctor is experienced and he performs the procedures himself!

Cameron Rokhsar, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Ultherapy does have risks but rarely

Ultherapy is extremely safe when considering the number of cases performed since its evolution.  The deep ultrasound has been reported to cause self-limiting, non permanent tingling, soreness, numbness, muscle weakness, brusing, swelling, tenderness. These are more side effects than complications.  A weakness of the motor nerve, such as the marginal mandibular nerve at the front of the jaw has been reported to cause a couple of weeks of inability to lower the corner of the mouth when smiling. Soreness or tenderness in the scalp from forehead ulthera or over other areas such as the cheekbone can occur. I am not aware of any permanent problems. Theoretically there is a chance of a skin burn but most doctors have not seen this. This may not be a complete list of side effects so discuss this in greater detail with your doctor when considering having Ultherapy.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Risks associated with Ultherapy

Ultherapy is a very safe procedure if done by an experienced person. The most common side effects are numbness and tingling.  Rarely, areas of muscle weakness or paralysis can occur, but is temporary. Permanent nerve damage can occur, but is exceedingly rare. Bruising and swelling can also occur. In general, Ultherapy is a no downtime procedure.

The risks from Ulthera are mainly some mild bruising and discomfort which is short lived.

Ulthera has been proven to be an extremely safe procedure.  According to the company, and our 2 years of experience backs this up, there have been no long term side effects.  Some people might experience some mild swelling and bruising right after the procedure, but this subsides rather quickly. Very rarely, some people experience some temporary numbness.  With new treatment protocols which are more aggressive, there is slightly more discomfort during the procedure.  With topical anesthesia, this has been reduced.  

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Ultherapy Risks

We see very few risks with Ultherapy. There is no "downtime" with this procedure as the ultrasound energy is very safe to use and precise to deliver. The ultrasound image on the screen also provides a safeguard by letting the practitioner know exactly where they are delivering the treatment. With the more aggressive treatments I have seen some minor bruising, swelling, and small bumps under the skin. It is possible to have inflammation around the nerves which can cause temporary nerve weakness. Some patients have reported some tenderness and numbness in certain areas. None of these have been permanent and all resolve in a small number of days or weeks.

Patients should consider what areas bother them the most and what expectations they have for improvement after the treatment to decide which modalities will be right for them. 

Theresa M. Jarmuz, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.