What Risks Are Involved with Ultherapy?

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

Doctor Answers 22

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 E. Hurley, MD
Dallas Dermatologist
4.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Potential Risks of Ultherapy

The Ultherapy System delivers a low amount of focused ultrasound energy to the skin.  The heat from the ultrasound stimulates new collagen to form.  

As with all medical procedures, there are possible post- procedure effects and risks associated with the treatment.  Immediately following the Ultherapy treatment, the skin may appear red or slightly swollen, which may last up to two hours or longer.  There may also be a slight tenderness and tingling in an area for a few hours.

Unlikely but potential side effects include bruising, pigmentation changes, reduced sensitivity to touch. These would be mild in nature and resolve in a few days.  Remote risk of thermal burn or motor nerve inflammation resulting in transient local muscle weakness or transient numbness may also occur.

Dr. Ebrahim recommends sharing any medical history with the Ultherapy Specialist during your Pre-Treatment Consultation. 

Shehla Ebrahim, MD
Vancouver Physician
4.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

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 9 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
4.9 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Ultherapy risks are relatively mild

The most common side effect is brief discomfort during the treatment.  Patients may also experience minor swelling, redness, and bruising. 

Uncommonly, patients may experience hyper pigmentation, wheals on the skin, temporary numbness or weakness.

Overall, the treatment is extremely safe and well tolerated.

Melissa Chiang, MD, FAAD
Houston Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Minimal risk with Ultherapy

The risks of Ultherapy are minimal when the procedure is performed by an experienced provider. The most common side effects are redness, soreness, numbness and tingling, but these resolve shortly. It is possible to get temporary muscle weakness if certain nerves are affected, but again, this is not permanent. Although unlikely, it is possible to get burns from the treatment. It is important that you thoroughly discuss your concerns with your doctor before proceeding with the procedure.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Ultherapy Safety

Hello and than you for your question!
As stated below, any treatment comes with some risk or with potential/unpredictable side effects.
However, Ultherapy, of any of the non-surgical treatments we have used, we have found to be extremely safe and with very little potential for complications. In fact, we have seen ZERO after hundreds of treatments.
This is likely the result of very experienced Ultherapists. In our practice, our Nurse Practitioner and two PA's, are the only ones who do the Ultherapy treatments. They have 13+ years of experience in the aesthetic industry, and have undergone multiple and routine advanced trainings with the clinical representatives for the company. Our patients have been thrilled with their results with the advanced and safe techniques we use.
Please feel free to call our office for further questions.
Thank you and good luck!

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 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. 

Hratch Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Buffalo General Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 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
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 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.