There's a bit of pain, but a lot to gain with Ultherapy and SygmaLift treatments

Ultherapy and SygmaLift are popular treatments that promise to firm the face. We try them out.

Ultherapy, pictured, uses one beam of heat, while SygmaLift’s are fractionated, so the energy is not felt all at once, making it almost painless. Courtesy Rebecca Treston Aesthetics
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One of the most effective anti-ageing therapies I have tried in recent years is Ultherapy. It lifts, tightens and rejuvenates for months after the sessions – but boy, oh boy, does it ever hurt.

The sharp, needle-like interruptions are particularly pronounced in the places where skin is stretched (not the way it once was, mind you) over bone, such as the jaw line.

Numbing cream and ibuprofen mitigate the pain a little, but I would say prepare to hurt, and hurt a lot, before the joy of seeing some of the sagging parts of your face refurbished.

With that pain in mind, I recently tried SygmaLift, which promises similar results over a series of sessions – rather than just the one with Ultherapy – but none of the ouch.

Both treatments are touted as non-invasive facelifts, which use ultrasound to heat the tissue under the skin of the face and neck to stimulate collagen. They do this by causing a thermal coagulation point (TCP) that will produce new collagen over a two-to-three-month period. While Ultherapy uses one beam of heat, SygmaLift’s beams are fractionated, meaning the energy is not felt all at once – but as a result, perhaps the TCP is not as sharp, either.

In terms of pain, Sygmalift is nothing. I fell asleep during both of my sessions at Rebecca Treston Aesthetics in Dubai’s EuroMed Clinic Center, something that would be all but impossible with Ultherapy.

Both treatments involve moving a handheld wand over ultrasound gel spread over the face, though with Ultherapy there is a pronounced beep-like sound as each beam of energy is delivered.

With SygamLift I did feel a slight tinge in my teeth at times and, just as was with Ultherapy, experienced slight itching around my jawline for months afterward.

Both treatments gave instant results, including smoothing on those pesky “nasal labial folds” – the area extending down past the corner of your lips, framing your chin, which Hollywood make-up artists always exaggerate when they “age” actors for films.

And with both treatments, I also saw my skin tighten up for several months after.

However, while Ultherapy delivered results that elicited compliments from people who did not know I had had the treatment, SygmaLift’s improvements were much more muted (and I remained compliment-free). That is why Treston offers Ultherapy to her clients before SygmaLift.

Keep in mind I only had two of the six or so recommended treatments for SygmaLift, and for me that duration of treatment is another drawback. But it is a good option if fear of pain is acute.

Overall I would recommend Ultherapy: you only need one session, so it is more cost-effective – not to mention visually effective – in the long run. Just don’t forget the numbing cream and the anti-inflammatory drugs.

• SygmaLift costs Dh30,000 for two sessions, with several sessions recommended to see results. Ultherapy is Dh14,000 for a one-off session. Both treatments are available at Rebecca Treston Aesthetics, Euromed Clinic Center, Dubai; call 04 394 5422

The treatments were provided by Rebecca Treston Aesthetics for the purposes of review.