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Difference between medical-grade HIFU and those in spas

August 13, 2020



HIFU is a growing facial trend that stimulates collagen production and lifting sagging skin. Besides medical-grade HIFU treatments, facial spas are also beginning to offer HIFU treatments. It is important to note that there are differences between medical-grade HIFU treatments and those in facial spas in terms of experience, cost, effectiveness, safety, treatment areas and the number of treatment sessions required.

We’re living in a high-stress, high-pollution environment and the ageing process is certainly faster than that of our ancestors. Sometimes, youthful skin sounds like a far-fetched glo-up that we can only dream of. Technology has long evolved for the need for invasive surgeries to achieve a skin lift. Now, you can enjoy tight and glowy skin in just one non-invasive treatment. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, also known as HIFU is a growing facial trend, that works by stimulating collagen production and lifting sagging skin. Some treatment areas include chin rejection, eyebrow lifting, facial contour improvement and wrinkle reduction. HIFU can reach as deep as 4.5mm under the skin. Once the ultrasound heat is applied, the skin automatically tightens. In addition, collagen synthesis presents long-term benefits for the skin. 



With the rising demand and interest in HIFU facelifts, there’s been a surge in the number of HIFU treatment brands and providers. This isn’t necessarily advantageous as a meticulous process like HIFU requires high precision and medical expertise to execute successfully. However, many facial spas are increasingly offering HIFU services as well. Hence, customers must understand the differences between medical-grade HIFU and those found in spas. 


(Get that youthful skin that you deserve with HIFU!)


Medical-grade HIFU VS Spa HIFU

1. Doctor’s skills/experiences & pricing 

A good deal is hard to resist but cheap is not always better, especially when it concerns your skin! Most importantly, not everyone will benefit from a HIFU treatment. An expert doctor will be able to assess this and suggest other alternatives. Furthermore, skilled doctors bring years of experience and hands-on training, which increases the efficacy of treatment. In contrast, spas may prioritise the overall sales output and overpromise what they are capable of delivering. Also, they may lack familiarity with the HIFU devices, making the entire process rather gimmicky. A proper HIFU typically costs at least 2-3 more than a single session at a spa. 

ClearSK has 4 types of HIFU treatments that vary in the price range because the key difference lies in the remaining power, accuracy and consistency left when the beam used in HIFU reaches 4mm depth. This affects how long the results last and the effectiveness in strengthening and re-modelling the skin matrix, collagen and muscle layer.

  1. V-max
  2. Lithera
  3. Ultraforma
  4. Ulthera

All of these HIFU technology treatments comes from Korea except Ulthera which is the first USA FDA approved device. Ulthera pioneered the HIFU face-lifting technology and still continues to lead the market as it is the best in its class!

(Choosing your doctor/clinic to get HIFU done is as important as the treatment itself.)


2. Varying effectiveness & safety 

Don’t be fooled. Not all HIFU devices are the same! Only licensed doctors can operate medical-grade HIFU devices in Singapore. Of course, these devices are not only proven to be safe but also effective due to the advance technology system, that better targets the deeper layers of the skin. Medical-grade HIFU treatments are the gold standard, approved by authorities and also proven by research to be skin tightening treatments. Spas offer fractionated ultrasound and the devices are essentially ‘copycat’ machines that may not be manufactured by a reliable and trustworthy brand. These machines are not able to penetrate deep enough into the skin layers that may need treatment, compared to those of medical-grade, which offers more effective, long-term solutions. These devices aren’t as safe as well as they don’t require a medical license to be operated.


(Find out more about the type of device and number of shots before finalising your treatment.)


3. Treatment regions

Spas are known to promote full facelifts without specific target areas, due to the type of unauthentic machines used. With Medical HIFU, the procedure is broken down into regions such as around the eyes or lower face. This ensures that specific conditions like eyelid refinement or resurfacing can be executed successfully. Of course, a full facelift at a spa won’t offer such specialisation and could backfire as not everyone needs a full facelift.


(Treatment regions vary depending on the specificity of your HIFU treatment.)

EXPERT ADVICE: ClearSK’s Medical director, Dr Shiau Ee Leng, starts off the medical-grade HIFU treatment with a scan of the face, to measure the thickness of the skin before they decide where to place the ultrasound energy for the best results. As such, the treatment will be done in accordance with the thickness of the skin of each individual. 



4. Number of sessions

Proper medical-grade HIFU uses high energy ultrasound and hence, can only be done every 1-1.5 years. Only one intense session is required for the procedure to be effective. Spa-grade HIFU usually needs 3 sessions at the minimum and lacks effectiveness due to the lower energy output. Furthermore, spas tend to upsell weak HIFU packages to customers, convincing them to come back for a session every month. Multiple weak HIFU treatments aren’t the same as proper medical-grade HIFU.


(Speak to your aesthetician today and flaunt your rejuvenated skin!)


Essentially, HIFU treatments are a godsend due to their convenience and non-invasive procedure. However, it is also an expensive commitment. Thus, it is important to survey available options and make an informed decision. A good aesthetician will not hard-sell treatments and provide you with a realistic treatment plan for the best outcome.



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