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Ultherapy or HIFU for Facelift?

Are you considering a facelift, but are put-off by the thought of going under the knife? Or perhaps it’s the high costs of surgical facelifts that are scaring you away from getting your skin fix. Not surprisingly, these are typical dilemmas that trouble people contemplating rejuvenation of their age-ravaged, loose, and listless facial skin. It is precisely for such people that expert dermatologists and doctors rely on treatments such as Ultherapy, or Korean HIFU – non-invasive treatments that help to lift and rejuvenate the face without the downtime of surgical facelifts.

Conventional facelifts that involve surgery come with the attendant problems of pain, long downtime, and high cost. Whereas, the non-surgical treatments such as Ultherapy, and HIFU, are relatively comfortable, quick, and quite effective when it comes to countering the negative effects of aging on your facial skin.

While both the treatments are the doctors’ preferred tools for countering the negative effects of aging on your skin, there are some people who swear by Ultherapy, and then there are the others who insist that Korean HIFU is the best. There is so much information on the internet, so how do we choose which non-surgical facelift is suitable for us?

Even as the debate rages on the best non-surgical face lifting treatment, Singapore has access to, Dr Chiam Chiak Teng from the Ensoul Medical Centre, clarifies that both these treatments essentially operate on the same principle. These treatments also have certain individual strengths and weaknesses, which an experienced doctor leverages to best effect. The choice of treatment ultimately depends on several factors, which include the patient’s age, genetic make-up, and extent of skin damage, are some of the factors your doctor would consider when deciding your treatment regimen.

Ultrasound Treatments Explained

The treatment, whether Ultherapy or HIFU, involves the use of focused ultrasound energy on the deeper layers of the skin. The energy waves target the collagen in the dermis and the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which is a layer of tissue, lying deep within the skin and subcutaneous tissue. It is one of the most important support structures for the face. The manipulation of this anatomic structure changes the appearance of the face

The ultrasound energy causes rapid heating of the tissues, which in turn induces controlled heat injury once the targeted skin area attains a pre-defined temperature. Thereafter, in a bid to heal themselves, the tissue begins to produce collagen – the crucial protein that gives body and volume to the skin. With more collagen making its way into its layers, the skin tone firms up, and wrinkles also diminish significantly. 

The best part is that despite the high temperatures generated, the skin’s upper layers remain unharmed, because the ultrasound beams are targeted at specific layers with precision. That’s why even the skin and tissues surrounding the target area are also spared the heat trauma.

Ultherapy Explained

Ultherapy is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, non-surgical facelift treatment. It uses micro-focused ultrasound with patented real-time visualization (MFU-V) technology to allow aesthetic practitioners to precisely see the where the layers of skin are being targeted. The technology can treat the skin layers at depths of 1.5mm, 3.0mm, and 4.5mm, targeting the dermis and the SMAS layer - just like HIFU does. A normal procedure usually takes between 30 and 90 minutes, to complete, depending on the areas. With no incisions required to be made, there is no need for general anesthesia to be applied before the procedure. Ultherapy procedures are relatively comfortable and has no downtime. You can resume to your daily activities without any special post-treatment measures.

  • Advantages - Ultherapy machines are equipped to provide live ultrasound images of the treatment area. This facility allows doctors to track the rays and ensure that the skin treatment areas are precisely targeted. This means that the exact skin layer is clearly identified and targeted accurately by every shot of laser that is released during the treatment. These precision levels give outstanding facial lifting and sculpting results.
  • Disadvantages - Ultherapy gives the illusion of fat loss, because the facial fats get increasingly constricted as the skin layers are tightened.  As a result, in patients with significant volume loss in their face due to aging, the illusion of more sagging is created.  
  • Suitability - Ultherapy is usually recommended for people having more bulk in their cheeks and jowls. It is also considered for patients that are keen on facial sculpting, in addition to face-lifting. The treatment is also preferred by patients on the lookout for longer-lasting results coupled with minimal maintenance in between.

HIFU Explained

For the uninitiated, HIFU is the abbreviated form of High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Its application in cosmetic or aesthetic treatments, was originally reported from the US, in the year 2008. Today, HIFU is routinely used in face-lift and skin rejuvenation procedures. The treatment basically uses ultrasound energy to target the required areas of the face, to boost collagen production and thus firm up the skin tone significantly.  

The aesthetic benefits of HIFU treatment range from wrinkle reduction, improving the jawline definition, smoothing the skin, lifting the eyelids, eyebrows, cheeks, and neck areas. Deemed as a safe and non-invasive procedure that effectively tightens the facial skin, HIFU treatment comes with the advantages of no incisions or scars, very low downtime, and very pocket-friendly when compared to invasive procedures.

  • Advantages - Modern Korean HIFUs are less painful to administer. Usually requiring only a few oral pain killers. The newer HIFUs allow us to use specific modes that have no effect on fat loss. So that we do not further reduce the volume in the face.
  • Disadvantages – Despite improvements incorporated into them, Korean HIFUS do not have the technology that allows live ultrasound images to be produced during the treatment. This less precision means that the precision of the procedure is largely dependent on the doctor’s experience and expertise. HIFU may require more than one session, depending on the results they want to achieve.
  • Suitability – HIFU is recommended for patients suffering from significant volume loss in the face, due to aging. It is also suggested for patients with low pain thresholds.   Younger people, with skin suffering from mild to medium laxity, have more to benefit from this treatment.  

Putting the lid on the Ultherapy Vs Korean HIFU - Which Non Surgical Face Lift is Better? controversy, Dr Chiam Chiak Teng, at the Ensoul Medical Centre explains, both Ultherapy and HIFU treatments have a few inherent strengths and weaknesses. But, selection of the appropriate treatment is influenced by several factors, and can be decided by an experienced doctor, only after conducting a detailed assessment of your condition and expectations. Now that you have a broad idea of Ultherapy and HIFU treatments, it's time to find out which one is appropriate for you. Fix up an appointment today and walk in to the Ensoul Medical Centre, for a proper discussion on non-surgical facelifts and skin rejuvenation. Remember, you owe it to your face! 

Comparsion between HIFU and Ultherapy 




  • Micro-focused Ultrasound
  • High Intensity Focused Ultrasound


  • Penetrate deep into the muscle tissues. It can also target 3 distinctive depths, (1.5mm, 3mm, 4.5mm) of the skin layer. 
  • Targets the dermis and connective tissues to stimulate collagen production


  • Relatively painful as it targets the muscle tissues. 
  • Relatively comfortable


  • Real-time Ultrasound imaging for doctors to track exactly where the energy is delivered
  • No effect on fat loss. So that we do not further reduce the volume in the face.


  • Ultherapy result can last up to 1 year.
  • HIFU result can last up to 1 year, but would require  treatment to be done every 5-6 months.


  • Slightly more expensive than HIFU
  • Affordable