HIFU treatment gone wrong

Nikki Butler

Nikki Butler

Heard about a HIFU treatment gone wrong?

So, you’ve typed ‘HIFU treatment gone wrong’ into your search engine, and you’re hit with a load of stories that make your blood run cold…..I know, I’ve done the same thing before!! 

HIFU is such an incredible treatment, but some of the older HIFU systems are a little punchy in the pain department (not my FOCUS DUAL system, so don’t worry), and some of the results sadly will fall into the ‘HIFU gone wrong’ camp.   

BUT, before you write HIFU off, please read on, and you’ll discover how amazing this treatment is, and how it can help you achieve the most incredible results when it comes to skin tightening and lifting. It’s one of two of the most powerful non surgical face lift treatments that I’ve experienced, and it’s great for the face and body alike. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at what can go wrong, and how to ensure you get results you’ll love from your treatment. 

What is HIFU?

Before we look at ‘HIFU treatment gone wrong’ in detail, lets start with what HIFU is. HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. It’s a thermal trauma (heat), that targets the skin at very specific layers in the skin, for example 3mm. Your skin is heated up at this depth, which causes a minor controlled trauma (a good kind). In response to this, your skin naturally produces fresh collagen and elastin, and your skin contracts and tightens in response to the treatment.  

During a treatment, I treat your skin using two different cartridge depths, so that your skin is stimulated at multiple levels – this gives you amazing results.  The depth at which I treat your skin, depends on your skin, your age and your desired outcome. it’s not a one size fits all (you’ll hear me say this a LOT!). 

Herein lies reason number when it comes to a HIFU treatment gone wrong – but more on that below! 

HIFU treatment gone wrong? Here's why.....

Have you seen a HIFU treatment gone wrong on the face? There’s loads of evidence of this online. 

The main reason that HIFU treatments don’t give the desired results can be down to these factors (in my opinion). 

  1. The wrong depth cartridge was used during treatment, and/or too high energy levels. 
  2. The HIFU system being used heats the surface of the skin up, and causes burns or blisters.
  3. Unrealistic promises made with results that can be achieved. 

We’ll look at these reasons below, so that we can go through what can go wrong with your HIFU treatment, and how you can do your best to make sure you’re in the safest hands. 

Just to be transparent, different HIFU devices will have different treatment recommendations, as not all systems are created equal. It will also depend on the area that’s being treated, the quality of skin, the desired result and response to treatment. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’, there are multiple considerations for your practitioner, with HIFU treatments.

1. Incorrect cartridge used

In my experience, the number one reason for a HIFU treatment gone wrong, is incorrect cartridge selection by the practitioner.

I won’t be popular among my peers for saying this, I’m sure – but this is my belief.  As HIFU targets and heats up the skin at very specific depths, it’s essential that the practitioner chooses the right cartridge depth, to suit each area of the face, and it’s tailored to each client. One of the biggest risks is, that if the wrong depth cartridge is chosen, then the results will be poor.  The biggest error is where a cartridge that reaches the fat cells in the skin is chosen for a slim faced client (as an example), and the result is that fat cells are targeted and destroyed- causing a client to lose volume, and end up looking sunken and gaunt. The energy level matters too – treating too deep, at high energy levels will increase the risks.

For some clients – we want to target excess volume in areas such as the jowls, but for clients with slim faces, we do not want to be losing volume!  We also don’t want to be using the same cartridge around the eyes and forehead, that we’d use along the jawline and those aforementioned saggy jowls – this unnecessarily,  will be painful too!

Knowing exactly what your treatment goal is, and the correct depth to treat, is essential to ensure you have an amazing result. If your practitioner gets this right, then you’re going to love the way HIFU lifts & tightens your skin, without the need for a face lift!

TOP TIP: Always make sure you discuss your desired result with your practitioner, and ask them how they will be treating your skin, and at what depths. 

2. Overheating your skin

Argggh, when you search ‘HIFU treatment gone wrong’ – you’ll definitely be met with stories about burns and blisters, and how painful this treatment is! I just want to assure you, that’s not the case with the newer HIFU systems – thank goodness! But old school ones can be a tad spicy!

The reason for this is that some HIFU systems are not targeted to reach ONLY those specific depths we really want and need to target, for results. They also heat up the surface layers of the skin, which can make it very uncomfortable, and can cause burns and blisters – not to mention be incredibly painful!

Fortunately, the Focus Dual that I have in my clinic has a fancy little thing, called a ‘targeted transducer’ – what that basically means, is that the ultrasound is targeted ONLY at the depth we are treating, so you don’t have to deal with burns, blisters and excessive pain. You can find out more about this, on the ‘LEARN MORE’ button  below. 

In my experience, a lot of clients will fall asleep, although some will find it a little tingly. One client described it as popping candy in her skin – I kinda liked that.  Personally, I feel nothing on the right hand side of my face, and about a 3/10 discomfort on the left hand side in a couple of areas. 

TOP TIP: ask your practitioner whether the treatment is uncomfortable and whether the ultrasound heats all layers of the skin, or just the targeted depths. Also, try and read some reviews from other clients!

3. Unrealistic promises

Sadly, this can be a very real reason that clients experience what they perceive as a HIFU treatment gone wrong. 

If a practitioner is making wild promises of being forever young, then thank them for their time and make a swift exit!

HIFU treatments are fantastic as anti ageing skin rejuvenation treatments. They DO tighten and lift your skin, it is GREAT for saggy jowls, turkey neck, bingo wings and mum tums – it really is.  BUT, and here’s the BUT – you need multiple treatments (the number depends for each client, more on that below).  And, you’ll need maintenance treatments, as sadly, we can’t stop the skin from ageing naturally.  If you’re promised amazing, or unrealistic results from the offset, you’ll be left disappointed. 

Just so you know, treatments for the face/neck are usually 1-3 treatments, with the first two around 8 weeks apart, then with a gap of 3-6 months before considering a third. Maintenance treatments are needed every 12 months approx (up to 2 years for some).  For the body, it’s a minimum of 3 treatments 4-6 weeks apart, the number of treatments will depend on whether we’re targeting fat loss (this is possible with HIFU body cartridges), or skin tightening. 

HIFU is a ‘slow burn’ treatment too. You only see around 10% improvement initially, and then it’s around 3-6 months to see the full results (but they are so worth it when you do!)

TOP TIP: Ask your practitioner what results you can expect to see, how many treatments you’ll need and how long to see results. 

HIFU treatment gone wrong

And before we leave the topic of ‘HIFU treatment gone wrong’ – I’m going to ask you, would you love younger looking skin? Perhaps you’d like to find ways to achieve fresher, more glowing skin? 

Then you’ll love my Skin Health Quiz, which scores you on key skin health areas, and gives you immediate access to your results, plus lots of tips that you can put into action immediately! Takes less than 4 minutes, and is very insightful!

You’ll also find lots of helpful advice in my Ultimate Skin & Scar Guides too.  Click the buttons below, for easy access. 

HIFU treatment gone wrong - it's a wrap!

Nikki Butler Skin Clinic

I really hope you’ve found my blog on ‘HIFU treatment gone wrong’ helpful.  HIFU really is an incredible treatment, when carried out in the right way – so please don’t be put off by all that you read online. 

I’ll happily share HIFU before and after results with you, so you can see the incredible results with these treatments. However, HIFU may, or may not be the right treatment for you. Your skin is unique to you, and responds to everything that’s internal and external. Because of this, I will create a skin transformation programs that is bespoke to you. 

HIFU very often forms part of a skin rejuvenation program, but there  may be other amazing treatments that can help you, too. I know you’ll love the results from your bespoke programs I offer. I’d love to welcome you to my clinic in Alton, Hampshire. I am right on the Hampshire / Surrey border and just 15 minutes from both Basingstoke and Farnham. I am also at the end of a direct line from London Waterloo, and a 5 minute walk from the station. 

Ready to start your skin transformation journey with me? Then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.  Kindest wishes, Nikki 


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