How can ultrasound waves be used to lift and tighten the face? For this week’s Tweak of the Week I’m visiting Dr Rita Rakus at her clinic in Knightsbridge to learn about Ultracel, which uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to tighten the collagen, lift the skin and stimulate new collagen growth.
As Dr Rakus explains in the video, there are three technologies within the Ultracel machine – ultrasound, radiofrequency and microneedling, but for this week’s treatment, we are just showing the ultrasound element.
What does it feel like? How long does a treatment take? Watch the video and you’ll see. If you prefer to read, the transcript of the interview is below.
This video is sponsored by the Dr Rita Rakus Clinic
AHD: Dr Rakus, how does Ultracel work?
RR: it tightens the collagen, lifts the skin, and also stimulates new collagen growth. Now the Ultracel machine actually has three components, it’s got the ultrasound component, the radio frequency component and then the micro needling component. Historically we had Thermage which was radiofrequency, then we had Ultherapy which was ultrasound – so with this machine is we can deliver all three, which is quite exciting and last approximately three years but the most exciting part about it is that it doesn’t hurt.
AHD: Ah, because ultrasound has a reputation for being a bit uncomfortable.
RR: A little bit of swelling, bruising, and very rarely a bit of nerve damage, but this one it doesn’t hurt at all, you don’t have any bruising or swelling. I say to my patients, the older machines are like iPhone 2s or 3s and this is like an iPhone X. It’s a newer technology, but just because it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t mean you don’t get amazing results.
AHD: Fantastic, right let’s go and meet Karen who is going to be your patient, and then we’ll start the treatment.
Meeting the patient, Karen Heath
RR: So I presume is what you would like, if you have a look in the mirror were going to give you a tighten up here [in the cheeks], tightening up under the eyes, and sort your neck out a bit. This machine doesn’t hurt, were going to lie you down, put some gel you and away we go.
AHD: And Ultrasound works on the muscle layer under the skin?
RR: Well what they call it is the SMAS layer, where the plastic surgeons work. Ultrasound doesn’t theoretically affect the muscle but treats collagen, so it tightens the collagen. As you get older the collagen stretches like an older elastic band, and this shocks the collagen into coiling up again into a nice tight elastic band, and then it also stimulates new collagen growth so its good like that. So the ultrasound doesn’t treat the muscle per se, but everything is enveloped in collagen for example, little baskets of fat have collagen around them, so does the muscle and the tendons, so anywhere where there’s collagen, it will get tightened.
AHD: So Karen - how’s that feeling?
KH: Its fine, it’s like little stings I suppose, every now and then.
AHD: On a tolerability scale?
KH: Sort of a three or four
AHD: So that’s like nothing?
KH: Well, not much
RR: So basically we just do this, we do quite a few hundred shots and just repeat ourselves over and over again – now it tightened the collagen and gives it a shock and then collagen will grow slowly over a period of three months and get its coil back.
AHD: So initially after the treatment you’ll see a very slight result at first?
RR: About 10% of the result.
AHD: And then you get the full result about three months later?
RR: Three months later
RR: And then we offer a free top-up after three months, and even at six months if you need a bit more
AHD: And how much does this cost?
RR: Well it can start from £2,000 but it can go up to £4,500 depending on how much we have to do and how much of the face we have to do.
AHD: And does it suit some people more than others
RR: Well if you’ve got too much of a drop in the face we can still get a lift but if you are more in face lift territory, then not so much. [For Karen,] it’s good to have to have it done at your age because its nice and preventive and you don’t have much wrong with you.
AHD: And one thing people worry about with ultrasound is that its some how going to melt the fat under the skin is that a problem with this machine?
RR: Not with this machine, there have been no reports of ‘fat melting’. It also depends on the technique you use. Because if you use it a lot on the cheek area here, it will tighten, so if I was to do most of my treatments here, it looks as if it has gone hollow just because it has tightened in here. So although you haven’t melted fat, if it tightens it enough, it looks as if it has. If I pull up the cheek, it gives that contoured effect. I’ve done 20,000 of treatments with these machines so I have quite a lot of experience!
AHD: Karen how was that?
KH: It was absolutely fine
AHD: It looked very easy very tolerable, just the odd twinge
KH: There was the odd bit where it felt like little stings really, when she was near the bone it did hurt a bit more, but because it only lasts for a micro second, it’s bearable.
AHD: You look pretty much as you did before hand; I know we weren’t expecting big change but like Dr Rita was saying there’ll be like 10 per cent of the change will come now but I mean your face I don’t see any sagging to lift, it’s in fantastic shape but the result will come through in three months time.