Does Using a Numbing Cream Make Ultherapy Less Effective?

Could a numbing cream interfere with the connection necessary for the laser to work?

Doctor Answers 8

Numbing cream does improve tolerance of Ultherapy

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Numbing cream does not interfere or reduce the effectiveness of Ultherapy. I have tried all approaches to make Ultherapy tolerable without creating temporary morbidity associated with oral sedation or local anesthesia and I have found that applying a topical anesthetic which we have formulated for us for 30-45 minutes prior to start of treatment makes a significant difference in that I rarely have to use any local anesthetic and I never have to reduce power settings. Skin is permeable and if you are patient and leave the cream on for sufficient period of time, it will penetrate to sufficient depth to make the treatment significantly more tolerable.

Cambridge Facial Plastic Surgeon

Numbing cream not helpful with Ulthera

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Because Ultherapy is focused ultrasound and not a light-based treatment like lasers, it can be focused at a specific depth under the skin. There are 2 levels currently used, 3 and 4.5 millimeters, or between 1/8th and 1/4th of an inch approximately. This is too deep for numbing cream to do any good. However, there are certain areas where injection of a numbing agent can be helpful, such as the lateral forehead.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Ultherapy does not involve the application of a numbing cream

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Ultherapy is not a laser. It is focused ultrasound energy that is delivered to the deep tissues. Numbing cream does not penetrate that deeply, and as there is no pain in the epidermis during Ultherapy, just deep dermal pain, the use of numbing cream is not standard. If it were used, and then wiped off immediately prior to the Ulthera, there wouldn't be a dimunition of Ulthera's effectiveness.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

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Ultherapy and numbing cream

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Unfortunately, the use of numbing cream prior to an Ultherapy treatment is not effective for pain reduction during the treatment.  However, its use will not affect the procedure. The heat of the ultrasound is directed at specific depths under the skin to cause tightening.  Because of this, a topical numbing agent would not be able to penetrate that deep and therefore it would not work.  Fortunately, there are other ways to help decrease the discomfort one could experience when having a treatment.


Dr. H

Carlo P. Honrado, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

Topical anesthesia and Ultherapy

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Topical anesthetic creams have no effect on the long term or short term efficacy of Ultherapy in terms of energy delivery. 

Numbing Cream and Ultherapy

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Thank you for your question. The numbing cream will not make Ultherapy less effective. The treatment utilizes ultrasound technology, which penetrates deep into the skin. The numbing cream will not affect this. Best of luck.

Numbing Cream & Ulthera

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Not only does numbing cream not interfere with Ulthera, it also is completely un-necessary for the procedure, as it will not change the pain experienced. I recently ran a clinical trial involving numbing cream and it's use in Ulthera, and confirmed this finding. Because numbing cream only penetrates the epidermis (and Ulthera's deepSEE technology works at the dermal level), numbing cream has no effect on the pain level. Instead, discomfort during the procedure is best managed by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, benzodiazepenes, or mild prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone. 

Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon

Numbing cream does not interfere with Ultherapy

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I agree with Dr. Baxter and Dr. Shelton.  Numbing cream will not interfere with Utherapy, but unfortunately, it will also not be helpful as the pain from the procedure is deeper then numbing cream penetrates.  I find that patients tolerate the procedure very well with a combination of toradol and percocet  pills with a small amount of lidocaine injection for the forehead.   

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.