• My Face/Neck Lift Without a Knife: Ultherapy Part 1

    June 18th, 2012

    Soon to come: My Ultherapy Before and After Photos!

    Hello Ladies and Gents who might feel bad about their necks and nasal-labial folds.

    I had my Ultherapy treatment today. I’m still a little high on the 10 milligrams of Vicodin, 5 milligrams of Valium and 325 milligrams of Tylenol I was given so if I accidentally refer to myself as Catherine The Great in this post please be aware there is no truth to the rumors about me and horses.

    Come to me, lovah…

    What, you may ask, is Ultherapy?

    In Shannon Vernacular it’s this cool device thingy that zaps you with ultrasound rays which help you produce more collagen thereby lifting all the sagging bits of your face up. In the Ultherapy brochure it’s described as “a novel micro-focused ultra-sound modality for non-invasive, non-surgical skin rejuvenation and lifting.”

    I arrived at the office of Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald at 321 North Larchmont in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. having had an informative one-hour consultation with her a few days before.

    I was immediately greeted by Dr. Fitzgerald’s RN, the charming, whipsmart Angela Sarff who, I was reassured to discover, received her training at UCLA. Being a UCLA alumni myself I superstitiously believed she wouldn’t destroy me and the generations of Collearys to come.

    First I signed my life away…

    Me signing my life away.

    Then I was given the aforementioned pain killers which put me in a jolly mood so that when I went in to have my Before Photos taken I wasn’t too traumatized by how much I’m beginning to look like my ancestors circa 1900.

    You had me at hello.

    That’s either me in my Before Picture or the ghost of my great Aunt Maureen.

    Note here: The best candidates for Ultherapy are patients between the ages of 40 and 60 years old with early signs of laxity. Beyond that you may be more in the surgical face lift category.

    After my photos were taken from every angle (some which I really didn’t want to see) Angie retrieved me and brought me to the Ultherapy room to prepare me for my treatment. My face was divided into quadrants, which reminds me that I am multi-faceted or a Star Wars Sith character.

    Take me to the Dark Lord!

    The purpose of doing this is to separate the face and neck in such a way that the correct amount of ultra-sound is administered to each region. The Ultherapy machine has four different transducers (or hand thingys) which deliver different depths of Ultrasound depending on the depth of the different parts of the face and neck.

    For instance, the mouth and eye area receive only 1.5 millimeters of targeted ultra-sound from the correct transducer because the depth of the skin, fat and muscle in that region is thinner, whereas the cheeks and neck receive a depth of 4.5 millimeters in order to reach farther into the SMAS (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System – which basically means the musculature of the face).

    The photo below demonstrates how many zaps my skin received with 4.5 millimeters of depth (i.e. 30-31 on the cheeks, 20 on the neck) and how many zaps with 3.0 millimeters of depth (28 on cheek, 20 on neck).

    Once the drugs kicked in Angie began to administer the Ultherapy.

    Will it hurt?  Will it hurt?

    Yes, it is gonna hurt. It won’t hurt like giving birth. Or being eaten by a Siberian Tiger.

    However, there will be pain. Medical professionals like to call it “discomfort,” but it’s pain. Having said that, with the drugs (and you must take them) it is completely bearable.  You lie there thinking “no pain, no gain.” Angie handed me this cool vibrator (no, not one of those! Sheesh), but the kind you can hold in your hand and press against your face. Somehow the vibrator when pressed against a part of your face that isn’t being zapped, distracts you from the pain.

    Also, Angie is very interesting. We had a very nice chat while she was administering the zaps and she was sure to tell me how many she was going to do and how many we had left (much like a pilates instructor telling you how many butt crunches you have left). And it was really only the 4.5 transducer that was a little painful.  The 3.0 and the 1.5 were quite pain free.

    The very best part of Ulthera is that everything is happening well below the surface of your skin so that you look perfectly fine when you’re leaving. No bruising, no red marks, worst case scenario is you’re still a little high from painkillers and may resemble Don Draper after a 3 martini lunch.

    Me after treatment looking none the worse for wear albeit a wee bit batshit

    You must have someone to drive you home after Ultherapy due to your drug-induced hilarity (Henry didn’t seem to enjoy my Knock Knock jokes), then you may want to have a nap.

    There’s no residual pain after treatment. I feel just fine, but it will be one to three months before my results are visible so there won’t be any Before and After Photos in this post. I’ll go back to Dr. Fitzgerald’s office to have my After Photos taken so I can post them in a second post here. So stay tuned.

    (Full Disclosure: An Ultherapy treatment runs between $2,000-$3500. Ultherapy gave me a complementary treatment so that I would review their product. I was in no way required to write a positive review. I’d been saving money to have this procedure done well before Ultherapy contacted me with this opportunity. This is the first sponsored post I’ve ever done because it’s a product I wanted to try. All opinions expressed by me on any product I’m sponsored to write about will be straight-forward and truthful.)

    UPDATE: I’m going in Oct 18th for my After Photos, check in around then to see my Ultherapy Before and After Photos.


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    60 comments > Write one

    1. deborah says:

      When you say the cost is between $2,000 and $3,500, are you saying from doctor to doctor or client to client?
      Then after the 1-3 month time period, how long between treatments? (how the heck long will this last?) And then how often will you have another treatment?

      Cuz, I just tried the lash extensions and wasn’t all that thrilled with the gal who did mine :( And even though the price was no where near Ultherapy, it’s still a financial commitment if I choose to keep it up.

      May the collagen gods be good to you!

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Deborah — my session was 3500$ and it’s a one time fee. But it does depend on what you want done, where you live and who the doctor is. I live in Los Angeles so I believe the rate to be higher here. Also, I decided to do both my face and my neck which is more expensive than just having your neck done or just your face done. My understanding is that this treatment will keep your collagen levels high for several years. But as I said, I’ll know more how it affected my face and neck in the next 90s days. Thermage was its predecessor and about half of the patients who used Thermage really didn’t notice demonstrable improvement, Ulthera (which was FDA approved in Sept. of 2009) is much improved as they can send the ultra sonic rays much deeper into the SMAS. Dr. Fitgerald described Thermage as comparable to the old surgical facelifts which only lifted the out skin, not the fat and muscle below the skin. Today when physicians give facelifts they lift skin, fat and muscle creating a much better effect. Ulthera does this too, but is best for younger women (40-60) in order to see results.

        In an ideal world if you wanted to maintain a smooth face you would just do a little bit here and a little bit there over the years as opposed to one big thing one time. But of course bit by bit all comes down to finances and what you want to spend your money on. This really was something I wanted to try as I have a good friend who is a dermatologist who recommended it to me a year ago. I simply couldn’t afford to do it until this opportunity arose via my blog. Let me know what you decide.

    2. Well, as usual, you are hilarious AND beautiful. Even if you did look like one of your late great ancestors. I can’t wait to hear about the results and see the pics! I will be saving my pennies for this one day for myself, I am sure.

    3. Alexandra says:

      Anything that makes you feel better is worth it.

      • Shannon says:

        Sweet Alexandra — I bet I wouldn’t catch you doing that in a million years! You just don’t seem like the vain type. Which is why I adore you.

    4. Hal Ackerman says:

      So good. From one who loves to chronicle weird brushes with the science of medicine.

      • Shannon says:

        The funny thing is Hal the science is fun to learn about. Because I’m reporting I feel like I’m privy to a lot more information. I’m the secret agent beauty reporter at large. Just hope they don’t end up donating my face to science one day.

    5. Catherine Dong says:

      Will want to hear what you think of it. But you have gotten taken in by the Hollywood stuff, beautiful woman – all those pix of you and I couldn’t see a single sagging thing!!!

    6. Jennifer says:

      Yep, I’ve got to agree with Catherine.
      Ya look good already! And you’re funny.
      I do appreciate your candor.
      Anyways, I live in Seattle and we can wear scarves around the neck most of the year, plus I still wear birkenstocks, so where to start? Nevermind!

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Jennifer — I have Birkenstocks too! I think “have I been taken in by the Hollywood stuff” would make a good post/mediation. You guys are giving me food for thought. Thanks for checking in. And I love Seattle because you can wear scarves there.

    7. Jennifer says:

      Is this permanent? I mean to say, after 90 days or whenever, when whatever improvement is fully evident, does it, like, actas if you’re 10 years younger and you age according to that new number, or does it 1. wear off or 2. speed up to your real age and then continue with the wrinkles and lines?

      Genuinely curious.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Jennifer — I love this question. My understanding is that it resets the clock. We shall all know more as I report on this over time (which I intend to do)

    8. My favorite part: “early signs of laxity”…LOL – I think I can identify with that. Regardless, Shannon, you made it look effortless and cool, and you manage to look beautiful before, during, and after. Impressive!

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Jolly Tomato — thank you for thinking I look beautiful during and after. Funny how we all see ourselves through a different filter. I am beginning to embrace my appearance in a way I never did as a younger woman. I think the perception of some is that I’m doing these treatments because I feel bad about myself, but I think what’s closer to the truth is that I love this 40 something incarnation and want to extend it. I’ve never felt quite so sassy.

    9. I pinned this to my “I Am So Scared of This” board. Because I am so scared of this. Getting old sucks.

      • Shannon says:

        I was really scared of this too. There are some pretty frightening stories out there. It all comes down to people. As soon as I met Angie (the RN who performed this procedure) I knew I was in good hands. She’s already done 100 of these treatments and in her early 30s had already had one done on herself. After we were done with the Ultherapy she said, “hey, let’s get rid of those little red broken blood vessels around your nose” and we ran off to another room where she zapped those. It just felt like good girlfriends doing each other’s nails. It demystified the whole dermatological experience. Just. Find. The. Right. People and enjoy.

    10. Alexandra says:

      Awesome – I want to try it too! When can I look at you with my reading glasses to determine if it really works?

    11. Jeannine says:

      only you could share this and make me laugh – can’t wait to see the ‘after’ – I would love to do this ’cause my face is sagging!

    12. Jamie says:

      AMAZING! You look gorgeous (well no results yet, but you always are gorgeous!) I want it done! I can’t believe there is no redness or swelling!

    13. kian says:

      Can’t wait to see the after pictures.

    14. Well…. you look gorgeous in the before pictures, but I understand that we are our own biggest critics. Can’t wait to see how you look once it sets in, even more gorgeous of course!

      Thanks for the info, it’s nice to know there are non invasive procedures out there!

    15. Suzee says:

      I did Thermage and didn’t notice any change. But would love to try this. The thought of trying to find a good doctor is the hard part. Has anyone had this done in the DC/Md area? Or any good word of mouth references out there??

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Suzee — I’m still reserving judgment until a month goes by. I’m planning to take photographs each Monday to see if this isn’t too good to be true.

    16. Sue says:

      I’ve been dying to get this done, and am all for fighting the signs of aging! I’m getting smart lipo done first because the tire around my middle is killing me!! Looking forward to seeing your results, lucky you!! I keep pinching my neck and asking my husband if it makes me look old, and always gives me the “honey you look great” but what does he know??

    17. sue says:

      I agree!! Best of luck!

    18. Carol D says:

      I’m so excited to see the after pictures. I’ve been really debating having something like this done but right now I will live vicariously through you. And no, you are not vain at all. I think that as we get older (I’m 52) we just like to look like ourselves as we see ourselves. Does that make sense? I sometimes look at a picture of myself now and think Wow, do I really look like that?

      • Shannon says:

        I agree. I do still feel like a 25 year old and am always a bit startled to see my mom when I look in the mirror. On her it looks great, I’m still adjusting my self-perception to allow it to look great on me too. Middle ground is what I want.

    19. Jennifer says:

      Shannon, what an absolute joy to read your blogs! Life gets way too serious and your writing is an inspiration to see things in a happier light. You make Ultherapy almost sound like fun.

      I’ve had Sculptra and filler treatments with Dr. Fitzgerald myself and feel like I stumbled upon Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth. I just have to keep drinking the water to subvert nasty ol’ Father Time’s plan to make me one of the “invisibles” – a term only 60 year-olds understand :)

      • Shannon says:

        Wait. You can’t be 60?? I’m calling Dr. Fitzgerald immediately!! Thanks for letting me know my posts make you happy. I need the positive feedback!

    20. Jennifer says:

      No, I’m not 60 – I’m 63 and headed for an even number in a few months. (How we can get “old-er” so fast is enough to give one whiplash!)

      I’m sharing you with as many people as I can. I haven’t laughed this much in years! And I saw your blog about your single girl adventure in Italy. You can bet I shared that one with my teenage granddaughter.

      Your candidness, perspective and irreverence make one fantastic package. Keep up the good blog. We need it out here!

    21. [...] get asked to write sponsored posts by brands and so far I’ve written two in two years (Ultherapy haul-your-aged-flesh-up and Poise’s menopause line – sexy, I know).  This is number three because it just [...]

    22. Andre Walsh says:

      Shannon just wondering how things are coming along? it’s my 40th soon and want to do this but I really havent been able to find much info on the results, would love to hear how your feeling now that a couple more months have past…..

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Andre — funny you should comment today. I actually called Dr. Fitzgerald today to go in for my After Photos and we scheduled them for mid-October. I was told that the optimum results aren’t visible for 4 months. So I am planning to post my Befores and Afters in mid to late October. I don’t notice a visible change in my face yet, but it’s hard to know as I see myself everyday. BUT I will say that when I touch the skin under my chin it seems to have retracted. I didn’t realize that I touch myself there until I did it and realized the flesh felt different. So hold tight and check back later. I promise to follow through.

    23. Jamie says:

      Can’t wait to hear (see) if this works. I want to have it done (at Ftiz’s) but don’t want to waste $3500. Thanks for being our pioneer!

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Jamie — I’m going in Oct 18th for my follow up photos so check back around then and you’ll be able to decide for yourself if this interests you. It is a lot of money. If you do decide to do it let Dr. Fitz know I referred you. xo

    24. Jamie R says:

      BTW, the comment about is from a different Jamie than the one above. I’ll call myself Jamie R. :)

    25. [...] other hand I’ve had Lasik eye surgery, a brow-lift/blepharectomy, laser hair removal and now Ultherapy skin tightening ultra-sound.  What does this say about [...]

    26. Melanie says:

      When is there going to be a part 2? Would love to know what happened a couple of months post…

      I understand you’ll have them in October, but I’m curious if you’re seeing results in the meantime…

      Thank you and please know how much I appreciate your sharing your story!

    27. Jay says:

      Hi. It’ll be interesting to get your take on how effective the treatment was (coming up soon right?!) Also, I have a question. Some surgeries such as blepharoplasty cost about $4500 to $6500. That includes the OR, anesthesiology, the surgeon’s time and post-op recovery (albeit outpatient). Considering this, doesn’t the $3500 seem really really steep for an hour long procedure????! What is driving those costs? Would be an interesting question to ask when you go for follow up. I’m sure many many more people would sign up if it were say, half as expensive, and the clinic could make more money (the RN’s time and other marginal costs cant be more than $500 of the expense if it only takes an hour or two right?)

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Jay — at the moment I think 3500$ is too much. I don’t notice a change, but may be disproven when I see the After photos. I will ask your hard hitting questions re: cost on Thursday which is when I go back in. xo S

    28. [...] As you may or may not know I had an Ultherapy treatment with the fabulous, funny Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald four months ago. I detail my adventure HERE. [...]

    29. [...] more of my Aging Gracefully admissions you can go HERE and HERE.  Judge me at [...]

    30. Lori Lashley says:

      Hi Catherine

      How did you receive a complimentary ultherapy ? I am thinking about this one

      • Shannon says:

        I started writing on my site about how I wanted to try Ultherapy, but it was quite expensive and I couldn’t afford it. This is when I was contacted by an Ultherapy rep who set me up with one of their Los Angeles doctors to try it and share with my readers. I was hoping this would set the clock back several years for me, but I honestly can’t tell much of a difference.

    31. Victoria says:

      You are soooooo funny! I live in Rancho Cucamonga. I don’t want to travel to Los Angeles. Does your doctor know of anyone out this way? I read many other posts by women who say that the procedure was very painful. I guess you were quite lucky.

    32. Donna says:

      Did you have a problem with your skin sagging worse before it got better? I read this complaint from one reader.

    33. Yoli says:

      I didn’t see part two, did you see any results, loved or hated it?

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Yoli — Shoot, should have linked the two. I have to say that I haven’t noticed much of a difference. And because this is such a huge outlay of money I’m just not sure it makes sense.

    34. […] with Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald four months ago. I detail began my adventure HERE and continued HERE and […]

    35. linda says:

      I recently had the full face done on special $2,950 and the neck which costs $1,000 was done for free. It does hurt there is no getting around that even after 2 xanax and 2 vicodins I have no tolerance for pain.
      so it takes 90days to start showing the real results and this can last indefinately but you may need to treat small sections after a year or so. It depends on how well the collagen reproduces. Alls I know is the fillers are expensive and last 6 months to a year plus that hurts like hell and always looks the best right after. well hope this helps someone!

      • Shannon says:

        Thanks for weighing in Linda. Also, if you have any before and after photos you want me to post on this blog let me know, I’d be happy to do it, because I think results vary for different people.

    36. linda says:

      I live in edmond ok….and the cost is 4
      $4700.. way too much

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