How Does the Discomfort Level from an Ulthera Ultrasound Face Lift Compare to Other Procedures?

What level of pain should be expected during the Ulthera treatment and afterwards? Is the pain from a traditional face lift completely different? Is there more discomfort while recovering from a traditional facelift?

Doctor Answers 7

Recovery for Facelift vs. Ulthera

This is a hard question to answer due to everyone having different levels of tolerance for pain. I (Dr. Hall) personally have had Ulthera twice without any medication. For me, the pain was very tolerable. Here at Hall Plastic Surgery & Rejuvenation Center, we give our patients the option of taking medication for pain, as well as something to relax them during the procedure. I would say we have about 75% of our patients decide to take the medication. The advantage of the Ulthera treatment after the procedure, is there is very little to no pain. Our patients only have tenderness to the touch.

You can’t compare the pain of Ulthera to a surgical Face Lift. While all patients having a facelift are in our accredited operating room and not awake like during the Ulthera. Most of my patients are pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to recover after a facelift.

Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Discomfort from Ultherapy

Our patients report minimal discomfort with ultherapy, and no downtime. A traditional facelift will have 1-2 weeks of downtime. Good Luck!

Roy A. David, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Ulthera works but it's not a facelift

You will note on Real Self that Ulthera remains one of the highest-rated procedures on the Worth It Ratings. However, while the results can be good in properly selected patients, it is an exaggeration to call anything nonsurgical a "facelift." Most of our patients do well without any medication for discomfort but there may be some mild achiness in the treated area for a few days.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Facelift, Ultrasound

Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to good results. I doubt you will find many plastic surgeons that would tell you there can be a good facial rejuvenation without a surgical procedure IF you have descent of the skin and fat of the face. That may not be true if the only change you want is reduction of the depth of wrinkles. Go see some real plastic surgeons (Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery). Unfortunately too many patients believe the ads and hype about nonsurgical lifts and wind up spending a lot of money again for a true facelift procedure and they have no recourse to get their nonsurgical fees back.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Buyer Beware of Nonsurgical "Facelifts"

I agree with Dr. Rand.  Ulthera is a proprietary name used to hype the idea that this alternative means of getting a facelift is equivalent to what a fully qualified and board certified plastic surgeon could do for you.  Facelifts are generally well tolerated with little pain past the first one to two days.  If a facelift is what you want  Ulthera is not the answer.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 113 reviews

Pain can be managed, but efficacy is the question

Before you go ahead, talk to some patients or at least see photos that are at least six months out and have been done by the treating physician! Even beating the face with a fly swatter will improve its look short term.  The none invasive centers seldom show a variety of photo results at longer than three months and several may show those just on the completion of the technique. Photos also have to be examined as to the same lighting and background so they are truly comparable.

Operative techniques remain the gold standard for facial rejuvenation and for good reason.

Dr. Mayl

Fort Lauderdale


Nathan Mayl, MD (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Please don't call Ulthera a "facelift"

A properly done facelift by a real plastic surgeon (PLEASE see USA Today, 9/14/11) in the well selected patient will never be approached in results by Ulthera, Thermage or any other non-surgical treatment.  I have operated on several patients who have tried non-surgical tightening and "got nothing from it" other than a high cost and lots of pain during the procedure. The pain from a facelift is usually minimal, Tylenol generally is all they need for relief, and the patients recover rapidly and in my practice look extremely presentable between 10-14 days to the general public.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 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.