Is Numbness a Side Effect of Ultherapy?

I had ultherapy a few days ago and had a nerve block for pain. I am wondering whether the lingering numbness in my neck and jaw/cheeks is caused by the ultherapy or by the nerve block. I would like to know if this is a reported side effect of ultherapy and how long it is likely to last.

Doctor Answers 11

Does Ultherapy cause numbness?

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With Ultherapy, ultrasound energy is concentrated approximately 3-4 mm below the skin surface to induce new collagen formation.  Any structure that runs in this space can be effected by the treatment.  The small cutaneous nerves run in this space and it is not unusual for them to be effected leaving temporary numbness.  We have seen this with our patients and it resolved spontaneously in about 1 month.

Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon

Temporary numbness has occurred with ulthera

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The ultrasound can hit a small sensory nerve temporarily disrupting it's function - these are relatively uncommon and have resolved over the time of a few days to weeks in the cases I've heard about. As in surgery, nerves that get pulled or injured with electrocautery usually recover over a few weeks and at times longer (months). In the same manner, sensory nerves thought to trigger the onset of migraines can as well be irritated during treatment possibly causing the potential onset of a headache. Migraine patients should bring their meds just in case to their treatment.

Christopher S. Verbin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Skinnumbness following Ulthera

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The symptoms that you are experiencing are not from the nerve block.  It is not uncommon in the period following Ulthera that you may experience transient numbness.  In our practice we have not had any patients that had the symptoms persist for more than two weeks.  Having had the procedure myself, I had a single area on my forehead that did affect the sensory nerve over a small portion and it was about 10 days before it resolved.

Christopher Tolan, MD
Saint Paul Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

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Ultherapy and numbness

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Thank you for your question. Yes, numbness is a very common side effect. The Ultrasound therapy treats 3-4 mm down below the skin’s surface which then will trigger neocollagenesis, our bodys’ own healing response to trigger collagen stimulation. There can be some temporary numbness and tingling associated with Ultherapy, usually lasting a couple of days up to a couple weeks post procedure.

Steven Gabel, MD, FACS
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Do you need nerve blocks for Ultherapy ? N.O. or NO

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I have never used a nerve block for Ultherapy and don't believe it is necessary for this procedure. I do know that it should wear out after 12 - 24 hours. You should contact the physician who administered the procedure.

I like treatment without a block because if the patient has sensations of too much pain or tingling over an area that I am treating, I stop and reduce the energy level or use transducers that are less deep (1.5 mm versus 3 and 4.5 mm). This prevents unnecessary and avoidable injury to things like the marginal mandibular nerve near the jaw treatment lines. 

Numbness following Ultherapy

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Numbness following Ultherapy treatment is not unusual.

The symptoms that you are experiencing are not from the nerve block, since this will typically resolve in a few hours. It is not uncommon following Ulthera to experience some temporary numbness or tingling. In my practice, we have not had any patients that have any permanent numbness I have had the procedure twice, and both time had more tingling than numbness. With nerve blocks, there is always the possibility of nerve injury, which is uncommon. If your numbness persists more than 7-10 days, you should see the physician where your procedure was performed. Good luck.

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Numbness as a side effect for Ulthera

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There is possibly a side effect of numbness following an Ulthera procedure, however the percentage is very low.  If this was a side effect from Ulthera for you, the effects should subside before 3 weeks.

Edward J. Gross, MD
Orlando Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Ultherapy and Numbness

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Without knowing exactly where the nerve block was done, it is difficult to determine whether the numbness is from the Ulthera or the nerve block.  There can be some temporary numbness and tingling associated with Ulthera, however all incidences have been temporary - usually lasting a couple of days up to a couple weeks.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Ultherapy and temporary numbness

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Ultherapy is ultrasound which goes to a depth of 1.5-4.5 mm.  This energy may also hit cutaneous nerves and cause temporary numbness.  This is normal and will resolve.This should return to normal in about a week or less.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Numbness and Ultherapy

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Cases of numbness of which I've heard have all been transient for a few days to weeks and have resolved by themselves.  The fine nerve endings may respond to the ultrasound heat from Ultherapy by not conducting their normal impulses until they heal. See your doctor discuss your situation.

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