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A new non-invasive method for brow lifting

Medical ultrasound has been used for decade as a tool to examine structure hidden inside the body. Visualization works by generating sound waves that bounce off internal tissues that are imaged on a computer screen. Low amounts of heat are produced in the process.

If ultrasound energy is more focused, more heat can be generated. Now a new category of cosmetic device has been approved by the FDA to allow for focused ultrasound energy to be used as a completely non-invasive alternative to surgical brow lifting.

The ultrasound device is first used to visualize what the tissues look like below the surface. A flat applicator is then slowly moved over the lower forehead and delivers calculated pulses of energy to generate a thermal coagulative effect at a prescribed depth within deep skin and superficial muscle.

In response, the body's lays down new collagen to repair the damage and in the process tightens and lifts the skin. Some lifting is noted immediately with more developing in the following months. The procedure, known as ultherapy™ requires no anesthesia or downtime.

Clinical evaluations showed that nine out of ten patients experienced significant eyebrow lift within 90 days. The one-time treatment takes approximately 30 minutes. Swelling or redness are uncommon and short-lived.

Surgical eyebrow lift (in most cases, performed as an endoscopic forehead lift) can be expensive and risk infection, hair loss, scarring, nerve damage, and prolonged healing time.

Botulinum toxin injections can also mildly modulate brow position by weakening the pull of muscle below the brow while allowing the muscle above it to contract unopposed. Treatment is safer than with surgery but can be followed by bruising, overcorrection, eyelid drooping, and asymmetry. Improvement is relatively fleeting as the effect of the toxin dissipates. Severe side-effects including loss of vision have been reported.

Ultrasound brow lift cannot replicate the dramatic effect of surgical brow lift but most young Asian patients are looking for a slight lift at most without facing the risk of overcorrection that looks unnatural.

The lifting effect is said to last for up to one year.

While ultrasound used in brow lifting has received the most clinical attention, the technique can also be applied to other areas of the face such as the jowls.

Whether this new alternative gains wide acceptance will depend on its track record over time.

Other non-invasive lifting procedures using different forms of energy have been tried before in the brow area but yielded inconsistent results.

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