If you’ve ever thought your face needed a lift, but the idea of surgery sent you running in the other direction, there’s new technology that might just be your ticket to restoring some youth to your appearance…without going under the knife!
It’s no-despair face repair, and it’s the hottest ticket in town, because Ultherapy uses no needles or scalpels to bring your sagging brows and drooping neck and jowls back to life. Plastic surgeons are offering the treatment at offices across the country, and we had the opportunity to stop in and chat with Dr. Michael Persky about the Ulthera technology and experience a treatment for ourselves.
Ultherapy is the only nonsurgical device currently approved by the FDA for lifting and tightening patients’ skin. Dr. Persky explains it best, in his fancy, doctorish kind of speak: “It’s unique in that it is unlike anything before it, like lasers and radio-frequency treatments. Ulthera’s ultrasound therapy can be targeted to a specific layer of muscle and then of skin and goes deeper than all the other technologies as well. So we’re actually targeting a layer of tissue that envelops the muscles, that we usually tighten and lift in actual face-lift surgery. So what’s pretty incredible about this technology to me is that without cutting we’re able to nonsurgically target areas that we target with surgery.”
Persky is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has been in practice in Los Angeles for more than 25 years. His new associate, Dr. Sarmela Sunder, comes fresh from her fellowship in facial plastic surgery in New York with one of Dr. Persky’s heroes in the field of facial plastic surgery, Dr. Vito Quatela. Together, Drs. Persky and Sunder feel they can offer patients the best services because they see patients together when possible to get both the male and female perspective on what potential procedures may look like on prospective patients. “A lot of practices will delegate [Ultherapy treatments] to staff,” explains Dr. Persky, “but I think as surgeons we have a feel of what we want to accomplish—the vectors that we want to lift, both the muscle and the skin—and we can apply that so we can go after particular areas with more intensity.”
The results are not immediate (it may take up to six months to see the full effects of the treatment), but Dr. Sunder explains the benefit to its wait-and-see gratification: “Ultherapy offers a gradual onset, and that’s how you know it’s your own body that’s rebuilding itself, because it allows time for that collagen to regenerate.” It all sounds very sci-fi to us, but that didn’t stop us from braving the technology ourselves. The treatment itself can cost $1,500 to $3,500 and take an hour to an hour and a half depending on the extent of the procedure (divided into upper and lower face). It’s safe for all skin types and ethnicities because it bypasses the epidermal layer, so there’s no injury to the skin itself or any hyperpigmentation or discoloration.
After 90 days...
If you’re wondering if you’re a candidate for this cutting-edge (with no cutting) procedure, Dr. Sunder says, “It’s ideal for people with mild to moderate laxity. I think younger patients, late 30s, 40, do better than, let’s say, an 80-year-old.” Dr. Persky adds, “I think the absolute home run patient for this is the man or woman who is just starting to see the earliest signs of aging.”
With this statement as his cue, the genial doc reaches for my face and says I’m that “home run” patient. (It’s worth noting that he asked me what my concerns were first, before offering his recommendations.) Dr. Persky runs his fingers along my 40-year-old jawline to my neck and points out some areas to Dr. Sunder. I decide to trust this man—Dr. Persky tells me he took a few preliminary “hits” himself to see how the Ulthera felt, and the first patient he treated fully was his wife. Well, the good doctor is still married, so I decided I could brave the waters for the sake of Instinct readers.
For my procedure, the doctors are using a nerve-block anesthetic on the treated areas to minimize any pain or discomfort from the Ultherapy (the most painful aspect may have been the anesthetic injections). They can offer you a Vicodin or Xanax, too, if you have a ride home from the procedure. Both doctors took turns like sculptors, shaping my face, because, as Dr. Sunder says, “You have to have an aesthetic about it.” A patient is awake throughout, and the doctors will talk to you as they administer each little ultrasound pulse. It did sting a bit in the neck area and any time they got near a bone, but for the most part the pain was minimal and entirely bearable. At this writing, my experience is only a few days old and I’ve seen no immediate results (but remember, it can take up to six months). I have some mild soreness if I touch my jaw—it feels like bruising—but there is no redness or discoloration of any kind, just a dull ache.
“There are so many technologies, and I think one of the hardest aspects of doing what we do is to distinguish what’s real from what’s hype,” Dr. Persky says. “We look at things very, very carefully before we bring something into our practice. With new technologies, what’s important for both Dr. Sunder and me is to make sure that, number one, it’s safe, and number two, that it’s effective. Ulthera is.”
Dr. Sunder expands on why they decided to bring Ultherapy into their practice: “I really think this is going to be revolutionary. The results are not going to be exactly like surgery, but if you have an educated patient with realistic expectations, he is going to be extremely happy with the results.”
Check back on my progress at instinctmag.com/health in October to see how I responded to the treatment. For more info on our doctors, visit drpersky.com or learn more about the treatment at ultherapy.com