Micro-Focused Ultrasound: A Worthy Option

Charlene DeHaven, MD
The world of aesthetic technology has been in a rapid and constant evolution. Providers continue to put more tools in our tool box to provide a wider array of treatments to our diverse patient population. The efficacy of our treatments is important to us as professionals, not only to provide true stimulation to our clients’ skin, but to assure that their hard-earned dollars are being put towards treatments that truly work.  In the past, many modalities have been brought into the market that have fallen short of providing  the promised results – whether  lifting, tightening, or retexturizing of the skin. But there is a new kid on the block now worth a look: deep micro-focused ultrasound.

This technology is non-invasive but has the capability to treat and tighten the underlying facial tissue – the superficial muscular aponeurotic system – otherwise known as the SMAS.  FDA approval for its “lifting” effect has given this treatment validation for the many patients wanting to pursue their interest in this new ultrasound therapy. Some surgeons are investigating its efficacy on other territories of the body such as breasts, arms, buttocks, thighs and abdomen. These efforts continue to open up new options to our patients.

This new technology has the ability to focus the ultrasonic energy beyond the epidermis to the deep dermal structure and SMAS. The depth of ultrasound wave or delivery can be visualized on a screen, thus assuring the level and accuracy of delivery.  The tolerance of the procedure is easily managed. Only one treatment is needed with the majority of patients, with approximately 20% needing a second treatment. A repeat or maintenance treatment is suggested in 18 to 24 months.  Slight edema can be experienced for up to 48 hours and echymosis is rare but occasionally reported. The lack of any significant immediate external effects makes this truly a “no downtime” treatment.

Patients looking for a non-invasive option for lifting and tightening are candidates for treatment as long as they do not present with severely damaged actinic skin, thin skin, severe laxity, marked fat excess or scarring. If patients are looking for a subtle uplifting/ tightening effect, micro-focused ultrasound is a very sound option. Educating patients (particularly for reasonable expectations) and assessing for mild to moderate ptosis of the forehead/brow, face and neck are key in patient selection. As with many “minimally invasive” and “no downtime” procedures and technologies, good patient selection is imperative for high patient satisfaction, since most patient results will be a compromise, not a total correction that a surgical option can offer. It does not replace medical skin care, dermal fillers, neurotoxins or laser devices, but rather, is complementary to their use.

The ASPS and ASAPS continue to collect data that indicate huge public preference for non-invasive rejuvenative options. Deep micro-focused ultrasound therapy is now a valuable and worthy candidate. There will be more to discover on micro-focused ultrasound at our 18th Annual Meeting to be held in Vancouver, May 1-4, 2012. 

Abbey Helton holds a Dual Certification in Plastic Surgery Nursing and Medical-Surgical Nursing with over 19 years of experience in the medical field, the last 12 years as Clinical Director for Joseph Banis Plastic Surgery. Her background includes Legal Nurse Consultant – reviewing and preparing legal documentation for expert witnessing, development of Skin Care Solutions™, as well as aiding in the research of a nutricosmetic and genetic skin aging project with Dr. Joseph Banis. Abbey can be contacted at 502.589.8000 or at ahelton@aesthetics.com

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