High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a relatively new cosmetic treatment for skin tightening that some consider a noninvasive and painless replacement for face lifts. It uses ultrasound energy to encourage the production of collagen, which results in firmer skin.
Several small clinical trials have found HIFU to be safe and effective for facial lifting and refining wrinkles. People were able to see results in a few months after treatment, without the risks associated with surgery.
While the procedure is also used for overall facial rejuvenation, lifting, tightening, and body contouring, these are considered “off-label” uses for HIFU, meaning the FDA has yet to approve HIFU for these purposes.
HIFU uses focused ultrasound energy to target the layers of skin just below the surface. The ultrasound energy causes the tissue to heat up rapidly.
Once the cells in the targeted area reach a certain temperature, they experience cellular damage. While this may seem counterintuitive, the damage actually stimulates the cells to produce more collagen — a protein that provides structure to the skin.
The increase in collagen results in tighter, firmer skinTrusted Source with fewer wrinkles. Since the high-frequency ultrasound beams are focused on a specific tissue site below the skin’s surface, there’s no damage to the upper layers of the skin and adjacent issue.
HIFU may not be appropriate for everyone. In general, the procedure works best on people older than 30 with mild-to-moderate skin laxity.