HIFU Treatment: Procedure, Side Effects, Recovery & Cost

Facial treatments are all that people are looking for these days to ensure healthier, glowing, younger-looking skin. This is even if you’re not suffering from a skin issue and getting pampered through facial treatment is not a harm.

HIFU treatment was first used for treating wrinkles and sagginess in 2008. Since then, it has found many uses.

It is being touted as a non-surgical alternative to a surgical facelift. The treatment aims to reduce the appearance of wrinkles on the face for a youthful look.

Understandably, not many people are willing to go under the knife. This is especially so when they believe that they can achieve the same results with another treatment.

What Is HIFU Treatment?

High-intensity focused ultrasound – HIFU – is a non-invasive, non-surgical aesthetic facial treatment that tightens the skin to reduce the signs of ageing.

It got Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 2014 for wrinkles and fine lines on the upper chest area and neckline.

As we age, it’s only natural to experience different signs of ageing; not many are welcomed, though. The loss of skin elasticity, droopiness, wrinkles and fine lines can make a person look older than they really are.

The HIFU treatment works by stimulating the production of collagen in the skin, which makes it firm and elastic.

In one study published in the Annals of Dermatology, the skin of 20 Korean patients with wrinkles and laxity was analysed after a HIFU treatment.

It found that HIFU was most effective around the jawline while comparatively less effective around the cheeks and perioral areas (skin right around the mouth). It was considered safe.

What Is The Procedure of HIFU for Face?

HIFU facial involves the use of a device that delivers ultrasound energy in short bursts. The procedure is highly targeted.

That means it doesn’t harm the upper layers of the skin and the surrounding tissues. This heats the skin cells in the target area, damaging them. However, in order to repair those cells, the body produces collagen, which firms up the skin.

First, the physician will clean the target area and apply a local anaesthetic to the face because the treatment can cause pain and discomfort. Following that, the ultrasound gel is spread over the area, and the device is placed there.

You may experience heat along with a tingling sensation during the treatment. The whole session lasts for anywhere between 30 mins to 1.5 hours.

And you may need multiple sessions of this treatment. Since the procedure has no downtime, patients can continue with their routine activities soon after.

What Does HIFU Facial Treatment Feel Like?

HIFU facial treatment usually feels like a warm, prickling sensation on the skin. It can also be described as feeling like tiny electric shocks or small bursts of heat.

The sensation felt is usually mild and tolerable, although some people may experience some discomfort and this will depend on their pain tolerance along with the intensity of the treatment.

After the treatment is finished, some people may experience mild redness or swelling, but this usually goes away within a few hours.

What Are the Side Effects of HIFU Treatment?

Although HIFU for the face is safe, it can cause some temporary side effects such as:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Erythema (redness)
  • Numbness
  • Purpura (bursting of blood vessels, leaving brown, red or purple spots)
  • Itchiness
  • Breakout

Keep in mind that you may need multiple sessions of this treatment, so you’d be experiencing these side effects and recovering from them more than once.

How Long Does It Take For HIFU to Show Results?

A HIFU facelift will not give you instant results. The body doesn’t repair damaged cells immediately. It can take anywhere between 1-3 months before you see the final results of the treatment.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the results of an ultrasound skin tightening treatment can last for as long as a year if good care is taken of the skin. Keep in mind that HIFU treatment will not give you permanent results.

During the recovery process, you may be asked to avoid prolonged sun exposure and any tanning beds.

Additionally, you should not take any hot water baths. You also shouldn’t tweeze, wax, or pick at your face. Make sure to stay hydrated and refrain from consuming caffeine or alcohol. Lastly, make sure to keep the skin of your face clean.

How Much Does HIFU Treatment Cost?

HIFU treatment costs will vary depending on the number of sessions that the person needs and the target area (jawline, full face, neck, or face and neck).

One session can cost anywhere between £200 to £700. If you need multiple treatment sessions, it can cost you more than £2,000.

Keep in mind that the price of the medical plan can vary depending on the location of the clinic and the person who is performing the treatment.

Since the results of this treatment are not permanent, you’d also need multiple treatments, which will add to your total cost.

HIFU Facelift vs Surgical Facelift: Which One Is Better?

There are many differences between HIFU face treatment and surgical facelifts.

You should know that even though they’re both anti-ageing, their results look different. There are significant differences in the recovery periods of these procedures.

 HIFU Facelift 
Procedure Ultrasound energy heats the skin cells and stimulates the production of collagen An invasive, surgical procedure in which the excess skin is removed after incisions are made; it also tightens the underlying facial muscles and repositions the fat
Treatment goal Get rid of wrinkles and fine lines Eliminate mild to severe sagging skin and smooth out any wrinkles and fine lines 
Surgical time 30 minutes to 1.5 hours 2-3 hours 
Results Can minimise the appearance of mild wrinkles and fine lines in 1-3 months Can dramatically make the skin appear firm and tight right after the procedure but you’ll have to wait for 6-9 months to see the final results because of swelling
Longevity Lasts for 1-yearPermanent results 
Downtime None 2-4 weeks 
Good candidate For younger people who have early signs of ageing For people who have moderate to severe sagging and wrinkling 
Number of sessions 1-6 sessionsOne-time procedure 
Cost  £200 to £700 per session £10,000 in the UK 


 £2,250 in Turkey 

HIFU vs facelift is something that many people are confused about. They don’t know if the results of the two procedures are equally effective.

It’s always a good idea to check out (genuine) before and after images of patients who have had both procedures to get an idea of the results.

Although a HIFU facelift can work, it has its limitations. There are different side effects of this treatment that you’d have to experience repeatedly if you end up needing more than one treatment.

It cannot get rid of excess skin since it’s not being surgically excised. So, if you have poor skin laxity, you should not get HIFU treatment for your face.

Is A HIFU Facial Worth It?

The way HIFU treatments work, they can make your skin smoother. The ultrasound energy from the device penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, and collagen production is stimulated to repair the cell damage.

In one study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 75 patients had HIFU treatment for rejuvenation of the skin on the face and neck. The research showed an 80% improvement in the skin. Additionally, the treatment had a high satisfaction rate of 78%.

However, keep in mind that HIFU therapy is best suited for those people who’re only showing early signs of ageing. If you have deep skin wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, and extensive photodamage, you’d see better results from an invasive, surgical procedure like a facelift.

If you do get a HIFU treatment for severe signs of ageing, you should expect the results to not be as dramatic. It can help improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines temporarily, but the changes will be quite subtle.

It is best if you get yourself examined by a dermatologist as they’d be able to recommend you a suitable treatment depending on your needs and expectations.

Before And After A HIFU Facial Treatment 

To get a better idea of the results of HIFU facial treatment, here are a few pictures: 

HIFU for face
(From left to right) Patient before, 3 months and 6 months after high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment
HIFU neck 1 1
HIFU’s effects on the neck

What Is HIFU For Prostate Cancer? 

Other than getting rid of signs of ageing, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has also been used for the treatment of prostate cancer.

The heat of the ultrasound waves is used to kill the cancer cells. This is not like radiation therapy, and it leaves the healthy cells unharmed.

According to Cancer Research UK, HIFU for prostate cancer is safe, although more research is needed on this. The treatment is highly targeted and non-invasive (no incisions are made or stitches are needed).

However, HIFU for prostate cancer is only recommended if the cancer hasn’t progressed to an advanced stage and spread to the other areas of the body.

Concluding Remarks

HIFU treatment has been around for a while. It is suitable for those who have mild wrinkles and fine lines on the face, neck or upper chest. It is safe, although it can cause some temporary side effects.

These may be quite inconvenient since a person might need more than one treatment. Still, it has no downtime, and the results should become visible after a maximum of 3 months.

You should keep in mind that this facial lifting procedure doesn’t give permanent results. Also, if you have moderate to severe sagging or wrinkling, the results will not be dramatic or satisfactory.

A surgical facelift might suit you better in that case. Regardless, you should consult with a professional medical doctor (dermatologist). They’ll have to examine your skin first and then recommend a suitable treatment plan accordingly.

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