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Difference between Ultherapy™
and Laser Resurfacing

Posted: 11:34 a.m. Friday, June 7, 2013

By Anita Mandal, M.D.
Question: I have wrinkles and sagging of my face and neck. A plastic surgeon advised C02 laser resurfacing and another suggested Ultherapy™. Which laser gives the best results?

Answer: Ulthera was originally developed to tighten and lift deeper tissues, not only in the deep skin layers but, more importantly, in a muscle layer under the skin called SMAS. The SMAS has traditionally only been addressed by surgeons with facelift surgery.

In contrast, laser resurfacing burns off the top skin layers and tightens skin to some degree, but does not penetrate deep enough to cause the tissue lifting seen with Ultherapy™.

In order to lift tissue, one must treat beneath the skin. This is true for surgery as well as laser treatments. As a micro-focused ultrasound, Ulthera heats tissues at very precise levels as deep as 4.5 millimeters (the level of the SMAS) to give a non-surgical micro-facelift. Because Ulthera does not strip the top skin layers, there is no peeling, scabbing, dressings or downtime.

More recently, Ulthera is being used to treat wrinkles in the superficial skin layers. Studies show that when Ultherapy™ settings are adjusted to superficial depths of 1.5 and 3 millimeters, one sees improved wrinkles rather than lifting of tissues.

Ultherapy™ has several advantages over laser resurfacing. Ulthera can offer a dual treatment, one for lifting and the other for softening of lines and wrinkles. In fact, both treatments can be done at the same time. Ultherapy™ also does not have the risks of loss of skin pigmentation or scarring seen after laser resurfacing. While the results appear much sooner with laser resurfacing, there is also much more downtime. With Ulthera, the results peak several months after treatment, allowing more gradual, subtle changes in one’s facial appearance with no downtime.


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