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ULTHERAPY: Extreme Pain - Washington, DC

I had the procedure done on 11 Jun 2012, full face...

I had the procedure done on 11 Jun 2012, full face and neck, by a cosmetic surgeon (Dr. Walker). I was not prepared for the extreme pain during the procedure - and when I say extreme I mean I was in HORRENDOUS PAIN! The doctor gave me a few injections of licodaine and over the counter tylenol and ibruprofen tablets and while the medications did numb the areas of my face and neck for a while they absolutely did nothing to alleviate the pain during the procedure! In fact, the procedure was so painful that I considered not completing it at all!

Besides the pain I had a pretty strong reaction to the procedure. The day after the procedure I had swelling all over my face, welts on several areas of my face and neck, and swollen lumps/bumps in a few areas of my face. I knew there would be a little swelling following the procedure as I had read about this while researching the procedure but I had no idea that I would have welts and purple swollen lumps/bumps on my face as well!

I first noticed a few welts on my face immediately following the procedure while I was still in the doctors office. Unfortunately by the time I noticed them the doctor had moved on to another patient; she didn't wait to talk to me following the procedure, which surprised me. Once I washed my face and put my clothes on I went back into the room expecting to talk to the doctor. To my surprise the doctor had moved on to another patient and was not available to respond to my questions or provide me with aftercare instructions. I asked the doctors receptionist about the welts that had begun to form on my face and she indicated that the welts would probably disappear in a few hours or so. (To say that I was more than a little disappointed that the doctor did not stay around to discuss the aftercare with me would be an understatement.) Today, 12 June I woke up to find that my entire face had completely swollen and the welts were more prominent. I also noticed that I had swollen purple lumps or bumps in a few areas of my face. Luckily I had nowhere to go today so I've been applying ice to my face all day and the welts have gone done a bit but the swelling and the purple lumps are still there. If the swelling, welts and purple lumps don't disappear by the end of the week I will make an appointment to see a dermatologist (I like Dr. Tandi). I don't believe I'll be going back to Dr. Walker again.

I would highly recommend that patients be put to sleep during this procedure or given stronger pain medication. I would also recommend that the doctors delivering the procedure inform their patients about what to expect both during and following it...and I would recommend that they be as forthright as possible. Again, I had what I consider to be a strong reaction to the procedure...while I knew there would be a little swelling I was not prepared to have my entire face swell nor was I prepared for the welts and the purple lumps/bumps.

I do hope that all that I've had to endure with this procedure (the pain, the swelling, the welts, the lumps/bumps) will be worth it in the end. Right now I'm far too swollen to tell if the procedure had any effect or not. I understand it takes 1-3 months or so for tightening and lifting to occur so I'll check back then.

Pros: The price of the procedure was reasonable compared to other doctors in the DC area. Also, the doctor was nice prior to the procedure; I took issue with her behavior during and following the procedure.
Cons: The pain was unbearable. The doctor seemed rushed and didn't want to stop for a break during the procedure; the doctor was not available to see immediately following the procedure thus I did not receive aftercare instructions and no one (nurse, etc) was in the office to respond to the questions I had following the procedure except the receptionist.

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13 June 2012: The swelling, welts, and purple...

13 June 2012: The swelling, welts, and purple lumps/bumps have almost disappeared! Also, my face and neck are still a little tender in spots. Overall, I'm feeling better now that my face and neck are almost back to normal.


Hi there - I'm curious about something - I had a good experience with ulthera and see so many really didn't (I've posted a review). What areas did you have treated, and do you know what depth transducers they used? I had mine done at the 4mm and 3.5 depths on mid+lower face and under chin. I'm going back for the 1.5mm, and wonder if this has more risk of developing welts and swelling - so if you happen to know what was used on you that might be useful knowledge. I'm really sorry to hear you had such a lousy time. Shame on your doctor for not checking on you! It's not like this is a manicure...
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17 June 2012: The purple lumps/bumps have...

17 June 2012: The purple lumps/bumps have disappeared...thank God...and the swelling is almost gone (I still have chipmunk cheeks though). The best news is that I can see the tightening and lifting! In fact, my neck looks amazing and there is a little lift in my eyebrow area! OUTSTANDING result already and this is just day 6! I'm excited!!!


Hi. I had full face and neck done. The doctor informed me that she would be using the highest concentration (whatever that means). She used the large transducer first on all areas and then switched to another transducer (she said that transducer wouldn't hurt as much but I couldn't tell the difference between the two...pain is pain and I was in pain).

Perhaps my procedure was done a little differently than others since you're the 4th person that has informed me that they would have to go back for a 2nd once over; it seems I had everything done in one visit. Maybe that explains the pain I had to endure?

Good luck with your procedure!

17 July 2012: I'm still seeing tightening in my...

17 July 2012: I'm still seeing tightening in my face and neck and my friends and family members have commented that I look good (I didn't tell them that I had a procedure done). I still cannot believe how great my neck looks, really a remarkable result! Also, my cheeks have lifted to the point where I really don't think I will need very much radiesse any more.

I would definitely do this again but only with ample pain meds (the pain was horrendous) and now that I know about the swelling and discoloration of the face and neck that will occur and last for a few days I would just clear my schedule for a week or so following the procedure (hide in the house for a while until I'm presentable - *smile*). Overall, I think the procedure is definitely worth the cost!


Luscious I am happy that by now you're happy to see good result. However, I felt your pain reading your first part of your review and I almost cried. I have had a chemical peeling few years ago and experienced the extreme and painful burning sensation on my face. As you,my doctor (no name) disappeared after and left me in tears in his office. His assistant brought me a mini-fan like a toy to help reducing the burning sensation . Reading about your experience I had a flash memory of what happened to me. You are so right. We have the right to be informed about procedures and reactions as well as after care provided. We are human been and not just a dollar sign in their pockets. How are you feeling now? Are you still seeing improvements? I wish you're doing fantastic and looking forward to hear good news from you.
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Hi. The tightening and lifting in my face and neck stopped sometime in late July but I am still very happy with my results. The results are holding-up and that's a very good sign. I am considering doing another session of ultherapy in Jan 2013 (with a different doctor) to tighten up my neck and face area a bit more. I will post here if I decide to do it. It's unfortunate that the doctors are not always as considerate as they should be. The doctor I used for my ulterapy treatment lost my business completely when she didn't bother to provide me with after care information and instructions and didn't bother to even say 'good bye'. Thanks for writing and take care of yourself.

Washington Facial Plastic Surgeon

-The doctor did not inform me of the side effects of the procedure. -The doctor did not give me adequate pain medication. Once it became clear that I could not tolerate the pain I believe either more injections should have been given or we should have stopped to take a break before moving on with the procedure. Neither occurred and it seemed as if the doctor was in a rush to finish. -The doctor disappeared following the procedure. She had another patient to see so she did not see me following the procedure. I received no aftercare instructions. -It was not a good experience.

3 out of 5 stars Overall rating
3 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
2 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
1 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
1 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
2 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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