First of all, I know this is different for everyone but: oh yeah, it was painful! In places where the skin/fascia was thinnest (jawline, cheekbone), it was worst. Also, I have dental work, so we put some cotton between my gum and cheek and that made it better--so consider doing that if you too have dental work on your molars. I was pre-medicated with Vicodin (and 1/2 a glass of wine), but I still felt a pretty good amount of pain. I never screamed or cried out but I wanted to on occasion. I'm usually very quiet with pain, but a couple times an involuntary squeak came out. I took it pretty well (my doc and nurse were proud of me, which was sweet!), but in the future, I'm getting heavier painkilling drugs for the procedure. I'm a pretty tough gal and can take a fair amount of pain, but Ultherapy should come with the warning that it can cause severe discomfort and pain in some patients. Again, mine was not too severe but it was worse than dentistry, so... painkillers are your friend here. When I do it again I think I'll request a dental block. That would probably work pretty well.
The procedure took only about 30 to 40 minutes and my doctor and her nurse were so supportive and kind. They were just great. I could see where the RF was "wounding" the collagen-producing layer. It was interesting but occasionally it went right along with the severity of the pain so that got funky. You totally don't have to watch it though. I looked away after awhile to concentrate on relaaaaaxing. My doctor had a vibrating ball contraption that you press against your wrist for when the pain gets bad (this was provided, I believe, by the Ulthera company itself) and honestly, that thing worked. It's pain distraction, obviously, but it really does confuse the brain enough to effectively stop a lot of pain. I owe that ball a lot of thanks!
When the treatment was done, I was relieved and tired. Pictures were taken before the procedure and at this time. There was no discernible difference in my face but I knew that 90 days were standard to wait for results, so I wasn't disappointed. I went home and slept a while. It should be noted I did have some nasty bruising (which is not at all uncommon) for the next 10 days. This is not mentioned by a lot of people but it should be noted. There is some down time for some of us. Luckily, I work at home so it wasn't bad but for the first 3-4 days, the swelling (slight) and bruising would've made going to work pretty odd. I looked pretty rough. Just fyi. Also in the interest of full disclosure, I bruise pretty easily so... your experience may vary. :)
For the next two months I had varying things happening in my lower face. I sometimes had minor jaw pain (usually only using light pressure), I had a lot of "tight" feelings underneath the chin, there was occasional tenderness (nothing much) and tingling (again nothing much) in the general area, but I thought it was interesting and should be noted. It never made me freak out because I knew my facial tissue was undergoing a lot of change and it really wasn't uncomfortable.
Honestly, I started seeing change, especially in the under-chin area, in only 30 days. (My doctor has pictures and I will try to get them and post them). People started to say I looked better or younger within 60 days and within 90--well, let's just say I'd stopped wearing long earrings because it made my face/chin look more "saggy" to me. But I bought long earrings and wore them by Day 90. Score!
This procedure really did a lot for my self-esteem. The differences are pretty slight, but they are significant to those of us to whom these changes are distressing. It's definitely NOT a facelift. That is a much bigger change, but because I don't need a lot of change, this Ulthera change was really significant and wonderful for me. I have felt so much more confident since around Day 60. I know that shouldn't be a physical thing, but it was--I'm just telling the truth here. And honestly, people have said, "You look so great!" without really knowing what the change was at all. It was really worth it for me and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My doctor is having a special on the Ulthera browlift and I'm doing it, so I *am* doing it again, I suppose. Oh, vanity. Still, if it increases your confidence and makes you feel good (without hurting anyone) why not?
I am ecstatic about my results and I would recommend this procedure for those looking for a smaller change. If you're looking for big change, don't do it. You are probably looking for surgical procedure-level change and that's probably the only thing that will do it.