Does Anyone Forsee Any Long Term Possible Side Effects from Ulthera? Since It is So New.

I am wondering if anyone thinks Ulthera Treatment could have any long term side effects years from now ? Could heating the skin from underneath ever result in Hyperpigmentation or little bumbs arising and showing up years later ? What about permanent nerve damage. I just wanted to get some Dr's thoughts on what could be possible permanent side effects since the technolgy is so new.

Doctor Answers 4

Ultherapy and its safety

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After thousands of procedures, the safety profile of Ulthera is promising.  If there is no hyperpigmentation at three to six months and no hypopigmentation at one year and no bumps that have been noted at one year, there would be very very little chance of developing such events thereafter and there haven't been reports of such. Nerve irritation has been noted to cause temporary numbness, sensitivity and functional motor weakness but these have reversed themselves without treatment as per the company. There shouldn't be a risk in developing latent nerve injury years later.

Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Side effects and Ultherapy

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Ultherapy treatment works by using ultrasound energy to create focused heat at a specific depth in the skin.  A side effect could occur if treatment is placed over nerves that run close to the jawline and the chin area.  The nerve could become weak due to the heat injury.  However, this area is not treated with the current protocol and our current Ulthera tips, so as to avoid this side effect.

Regarding hyperpigmentation.  The treatment passes thru the most superficial layer of the skin and thus it is very unlikely that it will cause hyperpigmentation.  Because it treats the deep layers and does not damage the top layer of the skin, this treatment is very popular in Asian countries where patients are at a high risk for pigmentation.

 If I was to treat a patient with a history of melasma with Ultherapy,  I would still recommend sun-avoidance and an effective UVA/UVB SPF to minimize any risk of worsening their pigmentation.  After Ultherapy, the skin usually has a nice healthy flush due to the heat that has been delivered to the deeper layers.  This heat causes inflammation deep in the skin which produces new collagen.  If the inflammation reaches the top layers, then theoretically this could aggravate pigmentation.  I have not seen this side effect.

Long term safety is based on long-term use of ultrasound, and the experience we have with using heat to stimulate collagen.  Ultrasound has been proven to be very safe.  Heat, when used at the appropriate strength and under the correct conditions has also been proven to be safe. 

Christina Steil, MD
Chicago Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Ultherapy is a safe modality for use

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Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy which is safe for human use. This energy source is used in diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound and safety studies and statements have been made by AIUM, the American Institute for Ultrasound in Medicine - using in vitro studies, human studies and epedemiologic studies. 

Ultrasound also uses the ALARA principles which you can look up yourself. 

Read the Ultherapy ebook provided on the link below. 

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Ultherapy is very safe

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Thanks for your question.  Ultherapy is very safe.  I have done over 80 cases and I have not seen any complications.  Ultrasound has been used for many, many years for diagnostic purposes and there are no short term or long term issues.  In fact, ultrasound is used on babies in the womb every day of the week and no problems are found.  Ultherapy uses the same ultrasound waves, but focuses the waves at the deeper layer of the skin (dermis) and the connective tissue layer that connects the facial muscles (SMAS).  This focused ultrasound energy creates tiny injuries in the above layers which causes tissue contraction and collagen deposition.  

Jonathan Pontell, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 113 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.