HIFU and Ultherapy, which is best?


You may have heard about these two giants of non surgical treatments. They are known to offer the most effective non-surgical facelift in the world.  So are they the same thing or not? And which is best? Here’s my honest guide to both of these treatments.


Ultherapy and HIFU

Ultherapy involves hundreds and hundreds of ‘shots’ of ultrasound which are fired into the skin in rows. These tiny ultrasound waves are known as ‘micro focused ultrasound’. They are delivered using a handpiece which looks like a wide wand with a cartridge on the end.

The treatment causes controlled damage at different depths in the skin which has a lifting and tightening effect. The clever thing is that the surface of the skin remains intact, with no damage, other than maybe some temporary redness.

Ultherapy was the first device to be launched. It is used for non-surgical lifting of areas of the face and neck.  It was founded in 2004 but became approved by the FDA in 2009.


HIFU and Ultherapy

This technology is very similar to Ultherapy. HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. These intense ultrasound waves are also delivered into the skin with a handpiece, and can target different depths of the skin just like Ultherapy.

The first reported use of HIFU for aesthetic purposes was in 2008, so just behind Ultherapy. However HIFU is CE certified (the safety mark for Europe) instead of FDA approved (the American version).

The procedure has the same end result – controlled damage at different depths inside the skin to create a lifting and tightening effect. Plus just like Ultherapy the surface of the skin remains virtually untouched.


Both technologies send the ultrasound to different depths which are 1.5mm, 3mm and 4.5mm in the skin.

At 4.5mm the target is the SMAS layers – which stands for ‘Superficial Muscular Aponeuretic System’. This layer is where the main lifting takes place. In fact the SMAS is what the surgeon targets in a surgical facelift.

The 1.5mm and 3.0mm cartridges are targeting the upper/middle and lower layers of the skin to build collagen and elastin.

The results last around 12 months. This means that you only have the treatment done once per year!

Both Ultherapy and HIFU treatments are uncomfortable. You feel a thud deep inside your face, which makes your face ache.


The Ultrasound is slightly different, one uses Micro Focused, the other uses High Intensity Focused waves. What does that mean for you? Not a lot really.

The main difference is that Ultherapy can ‘see’ the layers of the skin using the handpiece, whereas in HIFU you can’t see ‘inside’ the skin.

If you have particularly thin skin, or a lot of facial fat, then sending the wave 4.5mm down may not hit the SMAS layer. With Ultherapy you will know this but with HIFU you won’t. In theory Ultherapy should produce a more effective, guaranteed result.   This leads to the next major difference – the price – see below!

In both cases though – only clients who are suitable should undergo this treatment.  Anyone with particularly thin, poor quality skin will not be right for either.


Since Ultherapy can see the depths of the target you pay a lot more for it.

A full face treatment with Ultherapy will cost thousands of pounds – anything from £3,000-£4,000 depending on the area of the country.

A full face treatment with HIFU will cost approx £500-£1000 depending on your area.


With both HIFU and Ultherapy there’s no guarantee of visible results. Although the ultrasound is being delivered and causing the damage, you still can’t be sure how that will translate to the improvement you see in the mirror.

It takes around 6-10 weeks for the treatment to take full effect.

In both cases you can get great results and also clients who report no visible difference. It’s still not surgery, so you can’t know the improvement that will take place.


Well Ultherapy was the first of its kind to offer this treatment.  HIFU is kind of the more affordable second player to the market.

Ultherapy can ‘see’ the layers of the skin, so that definitely has an advantage over HIFU but for that advantage you pay thousands of pounds more.  HIFU has the advantage that it’s definitely more affordable!  Neither has a guaranteed result, so you will have to make your own mind up as to which is best.

What I can say is that these technologies are still the best option of a non-surgical face lift without any incision, needles or downtime.  However if you want a guaranteed ‘face lift’ then you may want to try one of these but also consider opting for injectables afterwards. You can lift the face with dermal fillers or instead opt for actual surgery.  You can also get skin tightening results with Microcurrent treatments, Radiofrequency, Laser and Microneedling.


I hope this article has helped you understand these technologies better. If you have any more questions feel free to email me at: rach@radiantliving.co.uk

To visit our HIFU page – please click here.