Updated: Sep 17
In January 2020, right before the world locked down, I went on the most fabulous adventure with my mom and sister to Seoul Korea. One of the procedures I was highly interested in trying was HIFU.
The video below is from my first HIFU experience while in Korea. I had this done in a doctors office and she used the Shurink HIFU machine. During this procedure the doctor used different depths to help tighten and lift my face and neck: 1.5mm, then 3mm, then 4.5mm, and finally 6mm depth.
After this experience I could immediately see tightening in my skin as well as my sister, but the biggest impact and immediate lift was observed in my mom who has more mature skin. Because of this experience I decided we needed a HIFU machine for at home use.
WHAT IS HIFU?
HIFU = High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
In the US, you may have heard of or experienced Ultherapy.
HIFU or ULTHERAPY
HIFU and Ultherapy use the same technology; Intense Focused Ultrasound in order to stimulate collagen growth deep inside the skin. In the US we see Ultherapy advertised because it is a branded device that was cleared by the FDA, which means in doctors offices they will have pricey branded Ultherapy machines.
HIFU is more common outside the US and more affordable.
In this Ultherapy photo below, you can see improvement after 180 days in this woman's neck and jaw line.
This technology is often advertised as the "non-surgical facelift" and in my opinion this is walking the line of half truths. In my personal, and non-professional assessment, I would never say HIFU or Ultherapy replace a facelift when a facelift is truly needed. Further, a facelift offers immediate results based on cutting off loose saggy skin and suturing that skin up and tight. Although, HIFU can tighten, help break up fat, and overall give a rejuvenation to your skin; collagen induction therapy takes time to show results, and these results are less extreme than an actual facelift.
Ultrasound for use in procedures was first investigated in the 1950’s by scientists in the US. Later, in the 1980’s it was used to break up kidney stones, which was a huge advancement versus doing surgery. But it wasn’t until the 1990’s when it was first utilized clinically on patients.
Currently, there are 3 technologies that can effect connective tissue deep in the skin helping to boost and cause improvement: LASER, RADIO FREQUENCY, and HIFU
HOW DOES HIFU WORK?
HIFU is a focused energy that goes deep into the skin causing heat. This focused energy is delivered into the skin as straight dots which cause heat, this in turn causes cell destruction by elevating the temperature of the skin between 55-100 °c; this is known as Thermal Ablation. The result is cell death. When cells die or become inflamed due to elevated temperatures, this triggers the activation of a cascade of biological mediators, this causes fibroblast stimulation which restructures proteins, helping to smooth and tighten our skin.
This heat does not burn your skin on the outside, but because it can heat up your skin at different depths, it can cause these benefits:
-Kills fat cells, so it can help with spot treating fat
-It can help acne
The powerful beams produced by HIFU have enough energy to penetrate our bodies. Consequently, when looking at HIFU devices you will see many different depth cartridges that are switched out and used during treatments. Each depth impacts a different level of skin or body fat.
Like an ultrasound you may have experienced during pregnancy, HIFU requires conductive gel to allow penetration.
While in Korea the doctor used 1.5mm, 3mm, 4.5mm and then 6mm depths. She also didn’t mark out my face and went over areas that my manual tells me to avoid, she was using a different machine and more importantly has a lot more training with HIFU than me, which is why I decided to follow my manuals instructions even though they were a bit confusing.
HIFU DEVICE TYPES
If you have looked at HIFU devices online, most likely you are asking yourself what is the difference between, HIFU, 2D/3D HIFU and 4D HIFU?
HIFU has a single line per single button press
2D HIFU has up to 11 Lines per single button press
3D HIFU has up to 11 Lines per single button press
4D HIFU has up to 12 Lines per single button press, these devices also have the ability to have other handles added: like body cavitation, a smaller handle for treating areas around the mouth, and vaginal rejuvenation.
I know I will get this question:) In Korea 1 HIFU treatment cost about $150 per session, in the US these can be more expensive, especially depending on where you go. Typically these sessions are sold in packages as you need multiple treatments in order to see results.
I decided to bite the bullet and order my own machine. I bought a 4D HIFU machine off of Ebay for $2400 and this device included 2 cartridges. I received the 3mm and 4.5mm cartridges. I just that this same seller now has this 4D HIFU with 5 cartridges for $600 less than what I paid.
If the 4D HIFU with 5 cartridges on Ebay sells out, below I found the same set up but its more expensive.
This is the 4D HIFU device I have, but for the same price I paid you get 5 cartridges, this is a better deal than what I got:)
I recently ordered 1.5mm (for my forehead), 6mm, 8mm, & 10mm for my body. I really want to treat my stomach, back of arms, and inner and outer thighs...basically anywhere I deposit fat or have loose skin.
The cost of cartridges vary online, between $150-$250 a piece. The cartridges come with different counts so when deciding on at home device make sure to check how many cartridges you are getting, which depths, and how many blasts each cartridge contains.
I have not tried these so I cannot speak to their efficacy, however they are less expensive and may meet your needs. Keep in mind these HIFU devices cannot switch cartridges, so you can neither add future cartridges nor treat multiple areas in your body.
This Mini 3 in 1 HIFU offers 3 depths in a single handheld device. If you only want to treat your face then this could be a good option as it offers: 1.5mm, 3.0mm, & 4.5mm
This Pevor Facial HIFU offers 3 depths (1.5mm, 3.0mm, & 4.5mm) it also offers Radio Frequency, which seems a bit superfluous considering HIFU is a more effective mode for heating up skin below the surface.
I also question its impact as it says you can use every week. Effective HIFU should be done once every 3 months. This device also says it slims your body. I doubt this is true considering for weight loss with HIFU you need 6.0mm depth.
This UANGELCARE device is very similar to ones listed above. It has all 3 depths; 1.5mm, 3.0mm, & 4.5mm
This UANGELCARE HIFU 5 cartridge machine is single line HIFU, this is not 4D, (4D means multiple lines per shot). This single line HIFU is a great option if you are pushing your budget but want legit multi cartridge HIFU.
I don't believe you are getting HIFU with this type of device. There are a few of these "mini hifu's" on amazon and ebay. If a HIFU does not list the different depths, as this one does not, I do not think this will do anything more than Radio Frequency. RF is great and adequate for skin rejuvenation, however if you are looking for HIFU this is not one, they are just using the word HIFU.
You can perform HIFU every 3 months. This is why if you decide to buy an at home device it could be a good idea to share it with a sister, mom or close friend as you will only need to use it 4 times per year.
HIFU DEVICE INTERFACE
My 4D HIFU machine adjusts its interface when a new depth cartridge is placed on the blasting wand. For instance in the image below you can see that the 3.0mm cartridge is attached. Based on the depth of cartridge attached the face example on the screen will change based on where each depth can be used.
This cartridge started with 20,100 lines and under "use line" you can see that I have 19,831 unused lines. Every blast uses up multiple lines, so it is different from the count that an IPL would give you since a single IPL blast counts as one. HIFU is a different count; a single HIFU blast will deliver multiple lines of ablative heat, so rather than counting down by a single digit, HIFU will count down by 120 lines; this count down is dependent on how many lines you set the device up to administer.
With my device it's important to measure and mark out your face so that each area receives the ultrasound in a controlled and consistent pattern. HIFU Ultrasound penetration does hurt, like a dull ache drilling into your skin. You need to be careful and take your time while marking your face and neck. I may change this protocol in the future but for now I am following my manual as closely as possible. I explain further about this my youtube videos.
HIFU PART 1
PART 2, coming.... Friday September 8:15amPST 18, 2020
I hope these videos and this blog post help give you more insight into HIFU and some options that could work for you:)