HIFU vs Thermage: Pros and Cons

HIFU and Thermage are both non-surgical face lifting and rejuvenation treatments available in Singapore. With both types of treatments focusing on similar skin conditions and results at first glance, how do we decide between the two? Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of HIFU vs Thermage and which suits you better.

Thermage: What it is & who it’s for

Thermage is suitable as a preventative measure against advanced ageing to treat superficial early signs of ageing. It also improves facial contour by reducing mild to moderate skin laxity and tightening saggy skin.

Due to its subtle penetration without melting any fats, it is suitable for treating wrinkles and fine lines, pores, sensitive areas such as the eye area or forehead, and combating volume loss. Thermage is a good fit for younger patients aged between 30 to 45 years old.

thermage facelift benefitsIt uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to penetrate the skin’s surface and delivers bulk diffuse heat into the dermis layer. This stimulates collagen production, remodelling, and new collagen deposition. The heat also increases blood flow, increasing the metabolism of the fatty layer.

As a non-ablative treatment, the regenerative processes occur within the skin layers while leaving the skin surface intact.

Thus, Thermage delivers lasting results of skin tightening, lifting, and enhanced complexion, with no pain or downtime. It’s effective for superficial issues such as early fine lines, enlarged pores, puffy eye bags, scars, and acne. The average length of treatment varies based on the treatment and typically runs for 45 to 90 minutes.

You will be able to see visible results after just one session, and results may last well over a year. However, depending on your skin condition, your aesthetic doctor may recommend a treatment plan to ensure optimum results.

HIFU: What it is & who it’s for

HIFU facelifting uses high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to deliver heat to deep facial tissues. It is more in-depth compared to Thermage and can tighten deep tissues in addition to the skin’s surface.

Due to its ability to induce volume reduction, it is suitable for treating excess fats, saggy skin, jowls, and fatty areas like the double chin or chubby cheeks. Matured patients between 40 to 60 years old who would like to stave off ageing can consider opting for HIFU.

hifu facelift benefitsThe ultrasound energy is delivered onto the skin surface in a precise and focused manner while penetrating the inner layers to stimulate collagen growth. HIFU can target multiple depths under the skin, namely, 1.5mm, 3mm and 4.5mm. At a depth of 4.5mm, HIFU targets the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which is the layer targeted by plastic surgeons when doing a surgical facelift.

Thermal coagulation points are created, resulting in the stimulation of old collagen breakdown, followed by new collagen production and remodelling. Thus, HIFU lifts and tightens the skin from inside out and melts excess fats, with no pain or downtime involved.

The two main types of devices used in HIFU facelifts are Ultherapy and Ultraformer. Ultherapy is used to lift saggy skin using real-time visualization, ensuring accuracy in heat deposition. Ultraformer has an additional feature of a 2.0mm handpiece that enables treatment of the delicate eye area.

A session usually lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. Compared to Thermage, patients will not see an immediate change after a session of HIFU. Due to the extended regeneration process, results are gradual and can be seen between 3 to 6 months. It is recommended to do a treatment every year but do consult your aesthetic doctor for further advice tailored to you.

Comparing pros and cons of HIFU vs Thermage

hifu or thermage faceliftBoth treatments effectively target the root cause of the signs of ageing, which are primarily caused by the reduction in our skin’s ability to produce new collagen, starting from our mid to late 20s. After all, collagen and elastin are the proteins in the skin’s extracellular matrix that provide structure, elasticity, and firmness.

It is not a matter of which is more effective, as both are effective for targeted skin conditions and have their advantages and disadvantages over the other. Here are the pros and cons of HIFU vs Thermage summarized in a table.


  HIFU Thermage
Technology used Ultrasound Radiofrequency
Suitable for Saggy face, wrinkles Sunken face, wrinkles
Not suitable for Chronic skin disease, severe skin laxity, infections, severe acne, metal implants Severely obese patients, severely aged skin, metal implants, new LASIK patients
Treatment depth Focused and precise delivery at 1.5, 3, 4.5mm Diffused delivery at 3mm
Treatment areas Excess fat, saggy skin, jowls Fine lines, wrinkles, pores
Fat melting ability Yes No
Targeting of the SMAS layer Yes No
Pain level Tolerable Tolerable
Downtime Slight redness Slight redness


Regardless of which treatment you choose, both provide genuine and long-lasting results as they stimulate the body’s natural mechanisms of collagen production. Collagen levels typically decrease again after 12 to 18 months due to ageing, and this is when a repeat treatment session may benefit you.

Lifestyle, proper aftercare, and good skincare habits play a part in maintaining the treatment results. HIFU and Thermage are effective anti-ageing treatments, and one can’t go wrong with either treatment. However, for best results and time- and cost-efficiency, it is best to consult an aesthetic doctor to determine which is best.


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