High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (Hifu): Your Basic Questions Answered by a Singapore Doctor (2019)

The demand for treatments geared toward combating the signs of ageing continues to rise. In Singapore alone, aesthetic clinics continue to keep their products and services up to date with the latest dermatological treatments and procedures. They are not the only ones in this endeavour. Beauty spas have also sprouted around the city, each offering their treatment packages at surprisingly low prices.

One of the treatments that surged to the top of the list of the anti-ageing regimen is the High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound. HIFU, as it is commonly known, is a non-invasive procedure that uses Ultrasound technology in order to tighten and lift saggy or drooping skin.

Despite HIFU’s ascend to popularity, many patients who get the treatment dive in directly without doing proper research on the procedure. This is what made me write this article, as I have seen several patients who come in asking for help in treating a substandard HIFU procedure. In addition, I will be addressing facts about HIFU regarding the procedure itself, costs, and finding the right doctor to assist you with your treatment.

Let’s get started.

What is HIFU?

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a non-invasive medical therapeutic method that uses non-ionizing waves in lower frequencies to deliver heat energy through the layers of skin tissues. In cosmetics, HIFU works to treat ageing problems, like fine lines and wrinkles and helps tighten sagging skin.

What Does Hifu Treat Best?

HIFU treatments

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound has vast usage not only in the aesthetic context but also in the medical field. When used to treat facial skin ageing, HIFU is able to treat the following:

  • Chin reduction
  • Eyebrow lifting
  • Facial contour improvement (V-shape)
  • Lifting of cheeks
  • Lifting of fine lines on the forehead
  • Lifting of Glabellar lines
  • Lifting of nasolabial folds
  • Lifting of neck skin
  • Wrinkle reduction

What Are the Available Hifu Brands in Singapore?

There are actually a lot of HIFU devices currently listed based on the international market. However, in Singapore alone, only 3 brands are commonly used in aesthetic clinics. These are Sygmalift HIFU, Ulthera, and Ultraformer 3.

What Are the Factors That Can Affect the Cost of a HIFU Treatment?

There are several factors that can affect the difference between the costs of a HIFU treatment. The costs may differ between patients as contributed by the following reasons:

  • Brand of HIFU device
  • Consultation Fees
  • Clinic Fees
  • Doctor’s professional fees
  • Quantity of HIFU shots
  • Target areas for treatment

Brand of HIFU device. HIFU devices that utilize authentic technology come at a hefty price. As mentioned previously, there are other HIFU devices out in the international market. There is no guarantee that these devices use the same technology that the very first brands (Ulthera and Ultraformer) of HIFU use. One original device alone costs more than $70,000. In relation to this, do inquire about the brands of HIFU your doctor use for treatment, especially if you feel like the price of the treatment is too good to be true.

Consultation fees. Prior to any aesthetic procedure, patients come in for a consultation with the doctor. During this time, the patient is assessed whether he or she is a candidate for a HIFU treatment. Consultation fees are generally not included in the prices indicated for HIFU treatments. For this alone, a patient should be ready to shell out $60 to $200 for consultation fees.

Clinic fees. On top of consultation fees, some charge clinic fees apart from the given HIFU treatment costs. The fees are to cover the use of the clinic premises and, of course, the services of staff.

Doctor’s professional fees. HIFU is a treatment that requires knowledge and mastery in administering the procedure. Doctors who have years of experience in this field tucked under their sleeves usually charge more than amateurs. Think of this fee as paying for the kind of service that you want to get. For sure it is not less than these adjectives: optimum and excellent.

Quantity of HIFU shots. As a guideline, HIFU has its own set of standards for the number of shots that can be applied to a certain area of the face. You can ask about this from your doctor during the consultation. At the same time, do ask for the number of HIFU shots required for the area of your face that needs treatment. Since not all HIFU devices are the same, the number of shots may differ as well. This is also one reason why clinic prices on HIFU vary as they might have different kinds of devices in use.

Target areas for treatment. HIFU treatments can be administered fully to the face and neck. The price range that most clinics offer may be for full or partial coverage of the face only. Your doctor should be able to determine which areas of your face will need the HIFU treatment. If only a small portion of the face requires treatment, then the cost can be minimal. However, the severity of the condition of the treated area can also affect the costs. If the skin sagging is extreme then more number of HIFU shots may be needed, therefore adding to the cost.

How Much Does a Hifu Treatment Normally Cost in Singapore?

Given that a clinic uses an authentic HIFU device, the price range for treatments starts at $450 to a maximum of $5,000. Regarding medical insurances and Medisave, these do not cover HIFU treatments.

AREAS FOR TREATMENT

BRAND OF HIFU DEVICE

ESTIMATED PRICE RANGE

Full face

Sygmalift HIFU

$500 to $700 per session*

Ulthera

$2,000 to $4,000 per session

Ultraformer 3

$1,000 to $4,000 per session

Smaller areas

Sygmalift HIFU

Starts at $300

Ulthera

Ultraformer 3

$600 to $1,000

*Sygmalift HIFU is comparably cheaper compared to Ulthera and Ultraformer 3. Hence, the doctor may require several sessions for a complete treatment of HIFU. Do ask your doctor’s advice regarding this during your consultation if you are keen on getting Sygmalift HIFU treatments.

How Do I Know if the Hifu Treatment I Am Getting is Legitimate?

It is important to note that original HIFU devices, such as Ulthera and Ultraformer 3, are powerful machines. Only doctors who have specific knowledge and training are the ones approved to use them. Clinics that have these brands as part of their aesthetic equipment have clearances from the Ministry of Health.

Cheap HIFU treatments have become rampant across Singapore. I greatly discourage you to patronize these treatments as they can do more harm than good. Remember that HIFU treatments should only be given by accredited doctors.

What Are the Considerations to Take When Looking for a Doctor to Perform a Session of Hifu?

Looking for doctor

Doctors who are experts in HIFU have the skill in manoeuvring such a powerful device. When looking for a doctor, check on his background and experience in administering HIFU. You can also ask for photos or testimonials of their patients that have undergone HIFU in their care.

Next, your doctor should have the knowledge in performing the HIFU treatment. Most importantly, he or she should be able to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. Unfortunately, HIFU is not for everyone. Your doctor should be able to tell you this during your assessment and, of course, be able to present you with other options to treat your skin woes.