Profound is the latest skin tightening device to hit the market, but how does it compare to the previous king of skin tightening, Ulthera? Colorado Skin & Vein has been at the forefront of skin tightening techniques for years and we were among the first practices to have access to both devices. In 2013 we became the first medical office in Denver to offer Ulthera. This year, we started testing Profound and are now a Denver training site for the device. After working closely with both we’re able to compare the two, in terms of mechanics, cost, and results, in a way few offices can.
Is Ulthera Safer Than Profound RF?
Ulthera received FDA approval in 2014 to heat tissue using focused ultrasound waves. It is important to note that Ulthera never received FDA approval specifically for skin tightening. Ulthera works by firing ultrasound beams into the skin in a cone shape, the tissue is heated where those beams focus to a point. There are three depths that the device can heat to, the most common are 3mm and 4mm which reaches the subcuticular fat. In our experience there has shown good overall skin tightening after treatments. However, over the years we noted several challenges.
The device uses expensive disposable heads. This cost the provider, and in turn the patient, at least $0.60 every time the device is fired and delivers a line of treatment. Because of this, the cost of the procedure quickly mount and there is little providers can do to lower it. There is minimal anesthesia used during treatment, which can last between 3-4 hours. Many patients report significant discomfort. Also, Ulthera results can start to subside after about 12-18 months and many patients may need a second treatment at six months. Finally, there are still about 20-25% of patients that do not respond well to the treatment.
Is Profound RF FDA Approved?
On the other hand, Profound received FDA approval in 2016 for both facial wrinkle tightening and for reducing in the appearance of cellulite. The Profound system uses radiofrequency (RF) to generate heat, which stimulates treated tissue to make new collagen, ela stin, and hyaluronic acid. The manufacturer spent several years identifying the exact temperature and treatment time needed to maximize results. It turns out there is a small sweet spot when the tissue is maximally stimulated to produce new collagen but not overheated to the point where it is too damaged to respond optimally. With Profound we can precisely pinpoint that sweet spot during every treatment.
This device uses two separate tips, one to treat the face/neck area and one for all other body areas. These tips have a one time use and cost several hundred dollars each. However, once the tip is purchased it can be used for as many shots as necessary during the treatment. That means the provider is not financially penalized for doing a more thorough treatment like they are with Ulthera. Treatment protocol for Profound also includes facial numbing, which greatly improves patient comfort during the procedure.
When Will I See Results?
Studies with the device show excellent results which have not begun to decline even after 24 months. Clinical studies with Profound have also shown an outstanding 100% response rate. We view this number with some skepticism but have treated a multitude of patients and have yet to see someone who did not respond to treatment.
Overall, the clinical differences between Profound and Ulthera are significant. Patients are more comfortable during Profound and far more of them have seen impressive results. The Profound system also seems to produce results faster and has been proven to create elastin (which gives skin its’ bounce back quality) and hyaluronic acid (responsible for keeping the skin from losing moisture).
The real downfall of the Ulthera is that, as the technique for using the device matured, it became apparent that two or three times the original estimated amount of lines were needed in order to get more consistent results. This drove up the cost dramatically and the treatment times extended to several hours. Even with longer treatment times, there were still a significant number of patients who did not respond well to Ulthera. The Profound treatment is only about 60 to 90 minutes for face and neck. All the patients thus treated have shown great results. Profound is a dermal procedure, so it is ideal to pair with CO2 for resurfacing of the epidermis. We have found that when paired together Profound and CO2 have exquisite results, unmatched by any procedure combo we have used in the past.
Take the Next Step
For those reasons we have stopped offering Ulthera and now exclusively recommend Profound to all of our patients looking for the best skin tightening treatment available. If you would like to learn more about this non-surgical skin tightening treatment, fill out the form on this page or call our state-of-the-art office in Englewood, CO at (303) 683-3235 to schedule a consultation.