Though wearing a turtleneck is comfortable during the fall, it’s not a viable year-round strategy for concealing loose or lined neck skin. To find a permanent solution for your sagging neck, you’ll need to turn to cosmetic medicine.
Traditionally, plastic surgery was used to slim and firm the region below the chin. However, while surgery is an effective option for patients with severe skin laxity, it’s not right for everyone. Most people wish to avoid the extended recovery time, scarring, and discomfort that accompanies face and neck surgery. Likewise, not everyone can have invasive surgery; many common health conditions, like type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease, contraindicate surgery. Because these conditions are prevalent among mature adults, a significant number of middle-aged and elderly people cannot use plastic surgery to combat the visible signs of aging.
Non-surgical procedures like Ultherapy provide a safe, convenient alternative to surgery for patients who want to reduce skin laxity. No incisions are made during Ultherapy treatment, so there’s no risk of infection or poor wound healing. This procedure can be performed without general sedation, too, making it ideal for patients with cardiovascular issues. After having Ultherapy, most people can resume all of their normal activities right away, without worrying about complications or side effects.
Target the Cause of Skin Aging with Ultherapy
Ultherapy uses ultrasound waves to gently stimulate collagen production within both the epidermis and the connective tissues that support it. Ultrasound waves are capable of heating targeted tissues without harming the skin; this activates the body’s “healing response” without causing any actual damage. Activating the healing response is an effective way to stimulate collagen production because collagen is used to repair injured tissues.
Increasing collagen production treats the cause of skin aging, rather than masking its symptoms. After age 30, our bodies start producing less and less of this essential protein, which is responsible for maintaining the tensile strength of the skin and connective tissues. In fact, the dermis—the layer of tissue that supports the epidermis—is made up of about 80 percent collagen. Collagen loss, therefore, results in a dramatic decrease in skin volume and a profound loss of elasticity. As our skin becomes weaker and thinner, it loses the ability to “bounce back” after being creased or stretched. Over time, the stress of normal movement causes the skin to become looser and wrinkles develop. Other factors—like genetics, smoking, and sun exposure—can contribute to the rapidity and severity of skin aging.
By boosting collagen production, Ultherapy restores some of the tensile strength your skin has lost during the aging process. This makes the skin firmer, improving its appearance while helping it withstand the rigors of everyday action. Collagen also attracts water molecules to the skin’s surface. This plumps the skin, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. After having Ultherapy, you can expect to see visibly tighter and fuller skin in treated areas.
What Happens During Ultherapy?
When you arrive for your Ultherapy appointment, you’ll be invited to relax in our office while a special applicator device is applied to your skin. Because this device emits ultrasound waves, Dr. Silverton or his trained Ultherapist will be able to view the layers of your skin in detail on a screen. This will allow them to precisely target areas where collagen density is particularly low. They will also be able to calibrate your treatment so that the ultrasound waves penetrate deeply enough into your dermis to produce excellent results.
Once Dr. Silverton or his trained Ultherapist has examined your neck, they will gently move the applicator device over your skin while it emits ultrasound waves. This process generally takes about one hour. After treatment is complete, you’ll be able to return to work if you wish.
Though you’ll see some improvement in your skin immediately after your treatment, it’s important to understand that the full benefits of Ultherapy develop gradually. The increase in skin firmness that patients experience in the first 24 hours after having Ultherapy is a product of collagen contraction (heat causes existing collagen deposits to group more tightly together), not collagen synthesis. The effects of increased collagen production take a while to fully happen; as such, you can expect to experience continued improvements in skin firmness and elasticity for up to three months after your appointment. Taking pictures of your neck at regular intervals (e.g., before your appointment, two weeks after treatment, and again two months after treatment) can help you monitor your progress.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ultherapy
1. Does Ultherapy have any side effects?
Ultherapy is not associated with any serious effects. However, some patients report experiencing mild temporary redness, swelling, and tenderness after their treatment. These symptoms usually resolve on their own within a few hours.
2. Is Ultherapy only suitable for use on the neck?
No. Though most patients use Ultherapy to treat loose neck skin, this treatment has been approved for use on multiple areas of the body. Currently, the FDA approves the use of Ultherapy on the neck, chest, and forehead.
3. Will having Ultherapy hurt?
Most patients don’t experience significant discomfort while having Ultherapy. However, in rare cases, people have reported experiencing stinging sensations during this treatment. If you have a low pain threshold, talk to Dr. Silverton about pain management strategies. Numbing the treatment area with a local anesthetic can prevent discomfort without causing complications. Dr. Silverton can also provide mild sedation and anxiety control through the use of Pro-Nox.
4. How long do the results of Ultherapy last?
Ultherapy produces very long-lasting results. Studies indicate that the results of Ultherapy typically last from two to five years, depending on the patient’s age at the time of treatment and the quality of his or her skin.
5. How many Ultherapy treatments will I need?
Unlike many non-surgical skin rejuvenation therapies, Ultherapy does not require multiple treatment sessions. Most patients enjoy excellent results after just one appointment. The decision to have more than one Ultherapy treatment is purely elective, and a second treatment is usually scheduled after the results of a patient’s initial treatment start to subside. You can extend the results Ultherapy by scheduling follow-up appointments every two to three years.
6. Who makes a good candidate for Ultherapy?
Most adults can safely have Ultherapy, but this treatment may not be suitable for patients with severely compromised immune systems or bleeding disorders. Ultherapy should also be avoided by pregnant and nursing mothers. Ultherapy is most suitable for use on patients with a normal BMI; weight loss may compromise the results of this treatment by creating additional loose skin.
The ideal Ultherapy candidate is someone between the ages of 35 to 55 who has realistic expectations for this procedure. While Ultherapy can be safely used on older adults, it’s not able to completely correct severe skin laxity. Patients over the age of 65 may experience more subtle results. When you visit Dr. Silverton for a consultation, he will carefully assess your neck and let you know whether this procedure will meet your needs.
7. Will I need to do anything to prepare for my Ultherapy appointment?
Most patients don’t need to take any special steps to prepare for their Ultherapy treatment. However, if you take any blood thinning medications (including certain over the counter analgesics, like aspirin and ibuprofen), you may wish to discontinue their use for a week prior to treatment. This can decrease your risk of experiencing swelling and bruising after having Ultherapy. You should also avoid the use of topical creams on the day of your treatment.
8. Will my skin require aftercare?
No, there are no special aftercare instructions Ultherapy patients need to follow. If you experience redness or swelling after your treatment, you can use a cool compress to increase your comfort, but this step is purely optional. Tylenol can be used to manage any lingering soreness (without increasing your risk of bruising).
9. How much does Ultherapy cost?
The cost of Ultherapy varies depending on the size of the area being treated. This procedure can range in price from under $2000 to $4000. If you’re concerned about managing this expense, ask us about developing a payment plan. We provide financing through trusted institutions like CareCredit in order to make treatment more accessible to our patients.
10. Can I improve my Ultherapy results with complementary treatments?
Some patients benefit from having Kybella® injections before having Ultherapy. Kybella® decreases the size of submental fat deposits, slimming the area under the chin. This can reduce the appearance of a double chin and create an ideal canvas for Ultherapy to work on.
Tips for Maintaining the Results of Ultherapy
Caring for your skin can ensure that the results of your Ultherapy treatment last for many years to come. To keep your neck looking smooth and firm, use the collagen-preserving strategies outlined below:
1. Protect your neck from sun exposure.
Today, we know that UV radiation greatly accelerates the rate of collagen depletion. Indeed, experts believe that up to 80 percent of the visible signs of skin aging can be attributed to sun exposure alone.
Though most of us take care to protect our faces from the sun’s glare, the neck receives less attention. Most hats don’t adequately shade this region and it’s not typically covered by clothing, so it suffers from high rates of UV exposure. Regularly applying a high-SPF sunscreen and wearing a sun scarf can reduce the amount of UV radiation that reaches your neck and greatly extend the benefits of Ultherapy. For best results, use a medical-grade sunscreen provided by a dermatologist, not a drugstore brand.
2. If you smoke, quit.
Next to UV radiation, smoking is the leading cause of premature collagen loss. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your skin—and your health.
3. Avoid “yo-yo” dieting.
Mature skin is more sensitive to fluctuations in body size because of its relative fragility. Gaining and losing twenty or more pounds forces the skin to expand and contract a significant amount, which can create pockets of loose skin. Keeping your weight stable after having Ultherapy is a great way to ensure that your neck and submental region stay lean and tight-looking. If you’ve had trouble maintaining a stable weight in the past, we recommend working with a nutritionist to figure out a healthy eating plan that will work with your lifestyle.
Learn More About Ultherapy
Living with loose or lined neck skin can be frustrating. This problem is difficult to hide and it can make you look many years older than you actually are. If you’re ready to tackle the root cause of your loose skin, contact Dr. Silverton to arrange a personal consultation. He’ll help you review your options and answer any questions you have about Ultherapy.