What is HIFU?

HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. It is a non-invasive therapeutic technique that uses non-ionizing radiation to heat tissue. At low levels it can be used to increase blood flow or at higher levels it can destroy tissue such as tumours. The transducer used on HIFU devices can control the energy delivery and also the depth of penetration.

To understand the principle around the use of HIFU for beauty treatments we must first look at what we are trying to treat. The HIFU device uses a focused energy much like a magnifying glass to target focused high intensity ultrasound into tissue to heat it.

The targeted tissue for non surgical facelifts is the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System or SMAS layer. This layer is predominately Collagen and is located at different depths beneath the skin depending where on the body you are treating.

For use as a non surgical face lift or body contouring device the HIFU transducer will focus the beam to heat the SMAS layer to approximately 60 degrees. At this temperature we get the desired cell damage to occur. This cell damage actually stimulates the cells into producing collagen. Collagen is a protein that provides a firmer structure to skin. This results in former and tighter skin.

This is focused nature of the beam means that only this exact layer is affected and that the non surgical facelift is achieved.

Depending on where on the body you are treating, the SMAS layer will be at different depths, this is why operator training and approved advanced devices that have multiple focal depths are essential for proper treatment.

HIFU was originally used for destroying tumours and as such can be exceptionally destructive in the wrong hands or from devices that are not Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved.

In Australia for any device to be used for this procure, it MUST be TGA approved.

Many companies have convinced customers to buy technologies on the basis that it is TGA pending. This does not authorise you to sell a device in Australia.

It is either TGA approved or it is not. It is that simple.

Regulatory Approvals

FDA approvals, CE approvals and certifications from other countries do not legally allow you to sell devices here in Australia either. The system MUST be TGA approved to sell it.

The potential destructiveness of HIFU is why devices have to be regulated and why all of InMed Aesthetics devices are TGA approved.

Burns, blistering, tissue destruction are only a few of the side effects of unregulated HIFU systems, if your device is not registered for its intended use then your clinic is potentially opening itself up to massive law suits should client injury occur. Additionally your insurance company could refuse to pay any claims as your device is not properly registered for use within Australia.

This means that you could be personally liable for any and all injury caused to your clients.

HIFU Applications

As the latest cosmetic treatment, HIFU is an alternative to a surgical face lift.

HIFU is non-invasive with no downtime for the client.

HIFU has many benefits, including:

HIFU vs. Radiofrequency

Technology Overviews

RF and HIFU are the two most common technologies for non invasive facial rejuvenation.

On first impressions they both are non surgical, non-invasive tightening treatments that achieve their desired outcomes by inducing collagen remodelling via thermal ablation. However the two technologies are actually quite different.

R/F skin tightening uses radiofrequency waves in a process called dielectric heating to treat the dermis, or mid layer of the skin. This concentrated heat penetrates no further than about 3mm and causes microscopic contractions to the collagen and increases blood flow to firm the skin and provide a glow from the increased blood flow. This method however is a bulk heating process and cannot penetrate to the deeper SMAS layer.

HIFU is high intensity focused ultrasound which is highly focused to provide precise tissue heating at varying depths. The ability to change the “target” depth of the HIFU allows for the SMAS layer to be directly targeted for facial rejuvenation or for the fat tissue to be targeted for fat reduction.

The thermal treatments are able to the optimised for your exact patient size and desired outcome.

Outcomes

Radiofrequency cannot treat the SMAS layer and relies on bulk heating to instigate collagen production in the dermis layer. This often requires multiple treatments and ongoing work for lasting results.

HIFU can be performed in one treatment with far fewer follow ups required for patients on the same area. The deeper penetration to the SMAS layer allows for a better lifting and also wrinkle reduction. R/F used to provide the better outcomes for de-volumisation of tissue areas however with the ability to change focal depths, HIFU is now also providing exceptional results for reducing tissue volume both on the face and throughout the body.