High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a relatively new cosmetic treatment for skin tightening that some consider a noninvasive and painless replacement for Ultra Therapy Facelifts. It uses ultrasound energy to encourage the production of collagen, which results in firmer skin.

HIFU is most widely known for its use in treating tumors. The first reported use of HIFU for aesthetic use was in 2008Trusted Source.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a painless and non-invasive cosmetic procedure for skin tightening, and HIFU is an alternative for Ultra Therapy Facelifts. You can experience firmer skin and collagen growth with the use of ultrasound energy.

HIFU was first approved for use in treating tumors. Then in 2009, HIFU was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for brow lifts. Finally, in 2014, the FDA cleared the device for cosmetic use to enhance wrinkles and lines of the decolletage or upper chest and neckline.

Clinical trials found HIFU to be an effective and safe treatment for decreasing wrinkles and facial lifting. In addition, patients could see the results of HIFU several months after treatment.

HIFU is not approved for facial rejuvenation, body contouring, lifting, and tightening. These procedures can be augmented with HIFU, but these procedures are off-label uses.

More testing is needed to find who can use this treatment. HIFU is a favorable treatment to replace facelifts in younger people who do not want the risks and downtime related to surgery. However, HIFU does not work for patients with severe sagging skin issues.

HIFU facial

HIFU uses ultrasound energy to heat tissues quickly. This ultrasound energy targets the layers of skin just below the surface. Within the layers of skin, when the cells reach a certain temperature, these cells experience cellular damage.

The damage to the cells triggers more collagen production – a protein that gives structure to your skin. You will experience fewer wrinkles, firmer, and tighter skin with a rise in collagen production.

High-frequency ultrasound beams focus on a specific tissue area located below the skin’s surface. Therefore, there is no damage to adjacent tissues or the upper layers of the skin.

HIFU may not be suitable for everyone. The procedure works best on patients who are older than 30 with mild-­to-­moderate skin laxity. Patients with photodamaged skin or a high amount of sagging skin will need several procedures before seeing results.

Older people with a great deal of photo­aging, sagging skin on the neck, or severe skin laxity are not good candidates for a HIFU facial and may need surgery.

HIFU is not endorsed for patients with open lesions or skin infections, cystic acne, or metal inserts in the treatment area.

Benefits of high-intensity focused ultrasound

According to the ASAPS or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, non-surgical alternatives to facelifts, like HIFU, have increased in popularity. As a result, the total numb of treatments performed has increased by almost 65%.

The aesthetic benefits of HIFU are:

  • Smoothing skin
  • Enhancing jawline definition
  • Lifting the cheeks
  • Wrinkles reduction
  • Tightening sin on the neck (or getting rid of turkey neck)
  • Lifting eyebrows and eyelids
  • Tightening the decolletage

Study results are promising. In 2017 a study involving 32 Korean patients proved that HIFU substantially improved skin elasticity in the cheeks, thighs, and thighs after 12 weeks. In a study of 93 patients, 66% of patients treated with HIFU experienced an improvement in their face and neck after 90 days.

woman getting ultrasound skin cleaning at beauty salon

HIFU for face procedure

No special preparations are necessary before your HIFU procedure. However, do remove all makeup and skincare products from the area being treated before treatment.


Skincare professionals will first cleanse the area being treated. A topical anesthetic cream will be applied for comfort before starting. Next, your technician applies the ultrasound gel, and the HIFU device is gently placed on the skin. The technician adjusts the device to the correct settings, and ultrasound energy is delivered to the target area. Short pulses or bursts of energy are administered for about 30 to 90 minutes.  You may need additional treatments, which you can schedule right after your first treatment.

As the ultrasound energy is being used, you may feel some slight tingling or heat. Take pain medication if this is uncomfortable. You can resume your normal daily activities right after the treatments.