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HIFU - What is it really all about?

Specialist HIFU Treatments Gold Coast - Beauty by Jemma

What is HIFU? - What is the science behind HIFU.

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a non-invasive medical procedure that is increasingly being used in aesthetic medicine for skin tightening treatment and facial rejuvenation. The procedure works by using high-frequency sound waves to heat the deeper layers of skin and cause collagen production, resulting in a more youthful and tightened appearance. It is sometime called the ‘Lunchtime Face Lift’ as the treatment is quick, very tolerable and has no downtime.

One of the key advantages of HIFU in aesthetic medicine is that it is minimally invasive, meaning that there are no incisions or surgeries required. The procedure is performed through the skin, resulting in little to no downtime or recovery time for patients. This makes HIFU an attractive option for those who are looking to improve their appearance without undergoing major procedures.

HIFU can be used to target specific areas of the face, such as the neck, jowls, and brow, to tighten sagging skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also be used to enhance the appearance of the cheeks and jawline, giving patients a more defined and youthful look.

In addition to its skin tightening benefits, HIFU has also been shown to promote collagen production, which can result in a more youthful and glowing appearance. Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by the body and is responsible for giving skin its elasticity and firmness. As we age, collagen production decreases, leading to the development of wrinkles and sagging skin. HIFU can help to reverse this process by stimulating the production of new collagen and elastin fibers.

The treatment tends to work best on people older than 30 with moderate skin laxity. The treatment is unlikely to be effective if your skin has become very lax or “saggy”, though your clinician can give you advice on whether you fall into this category. HIFU is not suitable for people with lesions or severe damage to the treatment area, metallic implants, or severe acne.

HIFU treatment for the face works as a non-invasive facelift. It lifts and tightens the skin, irons out wrinkles and fine lines, shrinks pores, targets the ‘V’ line formation and jowl lines. HIFU improves overall skin tone, pores, brightness and elasticity.

It can be used to target specific areas of the face, such as the neck, jawline, and brow, to enhance the overall appearance of the face and create a more youthful look. Additionally, HIFU treatments may be a suitable option for those who want to improve their appearance without undergoing major procedures or incisions.

This SMAS layer is the actual area a plastic surgeon would pull and tighten under a surgical operation using a knife. HIFU targets this layer without any surgical incisions, giving the patient a no-downtime facelift. Which means you can gain excellent results without any risks associated with surgery, such as infection, scarring, swelling etc. Treatments are fast and results can be seen immediately for some patients, depending on the level of laxity your skin has.

HIFU is a favorite technology of top aesthetic doctors due to its fast and long lasting results which improve over time. Its speed and non-invasive nature make it a perfect device to treat high volumes of patients and provide the same results as invasive facelifts, but without the painful incisions.

HIFU treatment is known as the ‘lunch time face lift’ as it’s quick and you can return to work and continue with your day. Some people may have some mild redness and maybe light bruising the next day.

HIFU is ideal for body contouring post pregnancy tummy, abdomen fat, bingo wings, thighs and under the buttocks for a non-surgical bum lifting effect. It can even tighten the skin on the knees and arms, helping to improve the ‘crepey’ look. HIFU is a very effective treatment for both inch loss and fat loss – at the same time tightening the skin!

HIFU can be uncomfortable for patients but is tolerated by most. It requires no anesthetic or numbing creams.

Some devices deliver less pain than others. Our 16D HIFU machine offers faster shot speeds and shorter intervals between each shot, this means it’s very comfortable for the patient, in fact far more comfortable and less painful than many other HIFU treatments on the market. Some people describe it as feeling like tiny electric pulses, or a prickly sensation. It’s not pain free but it’s completely tolerable and it may feel different on different areas of your face or body.

HIFU is also an alternative to a surgical facelift or liposuction, which is likely to hurt far more and require recovery time. Comparatively, HIFU is the much less painful and invasive option.

With HIFU the Skin is tightened, wrinkles smoothed, and sagging jowls or hanging skin are pulled back into place.

The Science of HIFU

For decades ultrasound has been used as a diagnostic tool to help determine size, shape and consistency of various internal structures. It has also been used for monitoring pregnancies, and with varying success to break kidney stones. However, using ultrasound for cosmetic procedures is a new and fascinating development.

Early Development

  • 1940s-1950s: The concept of using focused ultrasound for medical treatments dates back to the mid-20th century. Early research was conducted primarily in the field of neurosurgery, aiming to treat brain disorders by focusing ultrasound waves on specific areas of the brain.
  • 1950s: Dr. William Fry and Dr. Francis Fry were among the pioneers in this field. They explored the use of high-frequency ultrasound to treat neurological conditions. Their work laid the foundation for future developments in focused ultrasound therapy.

Technological Advances

  • 1960s-1970s: Advances in imaging technology, particularly the development of ultrasound imaging, significantly contributed to the progress of HIFU. The ability to visualize internal structures in real-time allowed for more precise targeting of ultrasound waves.
  • 1980s: The development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provided a further boost to HIFU technology. MRI-guided HIFU allowed for even more precise targeting and monitoring of treatment in real-time.

Clinical Applications

  • 1990s: HIFU began to gain traction as a viable treatment option for various medical conditions. One of the earliest applications was in the treatment of uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the uterus. Clinical trials and studies demonstrated the safety and efficacy of HIFU for this purpose.
  • 2000s: The use of HIFU expanded to include the treatment of prostate cancer. It offered a non-invasive alternative to traditional surgical methods, with fewer side effects and shorter recovery times. HIFU was also explored for the treatment of kidney tumors and liver cancer.

Cosmetic Applications

  • 2010s: HIFU technology found its way into the cosmetic industry, primarily for non-surgical facelifts and skin tightening. The ability of HIFU to stimulate collagen production and tighten the skin made it a popular choice for anti-aging treatments. It became widely known as a non-invasive procedure with minimal downtime.

Recent Developments

  • 2020s: Research and development in HIFU technology continue to advance. New applications are being explored, including its potential in the treatment of various cancers, neurological disorders, and even cardiovascular conditions. The technology is also being refined to improve precision, reduce side effects, and enhance overall efficacy.


HIFU has come a long way since its early days in neurosurgery. It has evolved into a versatile and valuable tool in both medical and cosmetic fields, offering non-invasive treatment options for a range of conditions. As technology continues to advance, the potential applications of HIFU are likely to expand even further, making it an exciting area of ongoing research and clinical innovation.

Examples of How HiFU works on the skin

Diagram 1 below is of younger skin and ageing skin, showing the decrease in collagen and broken elastin in older skin.

Diagram 2 below highlights that HIFU treatments reach the same depths that surgeons operate to.