Deep Impact

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An Unlikely Technology Helps Add Lift

LIKE AN INGÉNUE MAKING THE ROUNDS AMONG DR. OZ, Rachael Ray and Vogue magazine, it isn’t hard to see why Ultherapy gained instant celebrity as soon as it hit the scene. Its promise of face-lift results without invasive surgery through use of ultrasound technology raised many a slouching eyebrow.

“The level of precision we get is what makes this is a gamechanger. It’s the first of many devices to come,” says Dr. Todd Mirzai, a board-certified plastic surgeon who envisions a day when the same technology will be used to tighten loose skin under the arms, on the legs and buttocks.

Mirzai and Dr. Bao Phan are the first to introduce Ultherapy to Hawai’i through their Hawaii Plastic Surgery Associates practice. Mirzai said that non-surgical devices, up until now, could not go below the dermis to reach the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system), the supporting network of muscles, tissues and nerves of the face that could previously be addressed only through surgery.

Just as ultrasound utilizes sound waves to allow an expectant mother to see her fetus, FDA-approved Ultherapy bounces sound waves off the interior structures of the face to give doctors a non-surgical way of seeing, on a computer screen, the SMAS. This allows them to target thermal energy for the most effective results in rebuilding the collagen and elastin that give skin its taut, youthful appearance.

Just as muscle is forced by working out to build itself, Mirzai says, heat causes the body to sense damage and sends signals so “the collagen is forced to rebuild itself and become more robust.”

The end result is a gradual tightening, firming and natural looking lift of the skin, with maximum results in 90 to 120 days.

Ultherapy was initially used for brow lifts, one of the first areas of the face to sag, in some as early as age 20. Mirzai says most of these cases were due to a combination of genetics, sun and cigarette exposure.

Treatment starts at about $2,000 for a brow lift; up to $4,500 for full face and neck treatment. Depending on how well one eats and maintains one’s new appearance, the procedure can be repeated every six months or annually.

Although most people could benefit from treatment, Mirzai says it is not a magic bullet for anyone who really needs surgery. That would include people with significant loss of skin laxity and those who have lost a large amount of weight resulting in a lot of loose skin.

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