HIFU vs Thermage vs Thread-Lift – Which is the Best Non-Surgical Face-Lift?


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“Dr Justin, which is the BEST face-lift?”

Sorry to burst your bubble. There isn’t ONE that is the best. Why?

HIFU, Thermage and Thread-Lifts are all market-leading treatments.

The correct question is: “Which is the BEST non-surgical face-lift FOR ME?”

Which treatment is most suitable for me?

Having used all of these treatments, let me review the best non-surgical face-lifts in Singapore:

Your Facial Aging Style Determines Your Best Treatment

There are 3 types of Facial Aging: Sinker, Sagger and Wrinkler.

1. Sinker

Key problem for “Sinkers” is Volume Loss.

Treatment strategy:

  1. HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) – Stimulate Collagen Production in the deeper skin layers to firm and thicken skin.
  2. Filler Facelift – Replace volume loss using Hyaluronic Acid/Calcium Hydroxyapatite fillers.

2. Sagger

Key Issue for “Saggers” is Saggy Skin.

Treatment strategy:

  1. HIFU – Tighten skin by stimulating collagen at multiple depths (up to 4.5mm).
  2. Thermage (RF)– External RF stimulates collagen up to 3.0mm
  3. INFINI RF – Micro-needle (internal) RF stimulates collagen up to 3.5mm.
  4. Thread-Lift – Lifts skin and soft tissue at spot areas.

3. Wrinkler

Key Issue for “Wrinklers” is Fine Lines.

Treatment strategy:

  1. Botox – to relax dynamic lines
  2. Fillers – to fill static lines
  3. INFINI RF – stimulate collagen for static lines.

Most Common Facial Aging Pattern is MIXED

In reality, most people will have a combination of facial ageing patterns.

Mixed Facial Aging: Volume Loss, Sagging Skin and Wrinkles

The common reason for all 3 facial aging patterns is Collagen Loss.

Facial Anti-Aging is a highly fascinating topic and it is of personal interest to me.

The most common combination of facial aging I see in Singapore is Sagger + Sinker.

My Approach to Facial Anti-Aging

Early Facial Aging: HIFU/ Thermage

Late Facial Aging: HIFU/ Thermage/ INFINI + Fillers + Thread-Lift

Let’s explore the differences between HIFU, Thermage and Thread-Lifts.

HIFU vs Thermage

Both are excellent technologies with many satisfied patients who swear by these treatments.

Ultraformer 3 HIFU
Thermage CPT

If you have not tried any of these treatments or if you have tried one of these but not the other, this comparison is for you.

How does Thermage work?

Thermage treatment for Facial Aging

The first device for skin tightening to be approved since 2002, Thermage uses monopolar radiofrequency to deliver heat to the deep dermis (3.0mm) which smoothens out fine lines and stimulate new collagen production.

How does HIFU work?

Ultraformer 3 HIFU: Latest Generation of Skin Tightening and Collagen Stimulating treatments that has taken Korea and the world by storm.

HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is one of the most popular skin tightening treatments in Singapore and goes by several brands like Ulthera and Ultraformer 3.

Ultrasound technology was first FDA-approved for skin lifting and tightening with Ulthera in 2012.

Subsequently, many other brands of HIFU were introduced with less pain and more treatment handpieces for specialised treatment in targeted areas (eyes, body).

More Treatment Handpieces, More Precise Results

I was an ex-Ulthera user.

Currently, I use Classys’ Ultraformer 3 HIFU which is a newer generation HIFU technology that is approved by HSA (Singapore), Korea FDA and CE (Europe).

It has a specialised 2.0mm treatment depth for more precise treatment around the eyes.

Ultraformer 3 HIFU Specialised Eye treatment

Compared to Thermage which is Radiofrequency, HIFU treatments reach DEEPER (4.5mm vs 3.0mm) to the SMAS layer (superficial musculoaponeutic system).

This is the layer that is tightened in a facelift surgery.

HIFU Thermage
In a nutshell Ultrasound Monopolar Radio-frequency
Brands Ultherapy, Ultraformer 3 Thermage
Ideal for Sagger, Wrinkler Sinker, Wrinkler
Benefits Saggy skin, excess fat Fine lines
Max Depth 4.5mm 3.0mm
Pain factor 3/10 (newer HIFUs) 5-6/10
Downtime Pinkish skin Pinkish skin
Targets SMAS Yes No

Thermage vs INFINI

For fans of Radio-frequency (RF) treatment, you’ll be glad to know that the newer generations of RF treatments like INFINI are more effective and less painful.

Thermage (mono-polar RF) relies on BULK HEATING to deliver energy to tighten skin.

FDA approved for skin tightening since 2013, newer generation RF like INFINI, Profound, Endymed, Vivace avoid bulk heating and deliver RF energy using MICRO-NEEDLES instead.

INFINI the next generation in RF skin tightening

I prefer INFINI which delivers energy MORE PRECISELY and DEEPER (3.5mm vs 3.0mm) into the skin using insulated gold micro-needles.

INFINI Fractional RF

The insulation of the micro-needles means that only the tips of the micro-needles deliver heat.

With INFINI, there is less heating of superficial skin, less pain and safer treatments.

The added benefit of delivering RF energy using insulated micro-needles instead of bulk heating is an improvement in uneven skin texture and acne scarring due to the micro-needle effect.

HIFU vs Thread-Lift

How does Thread-Lift work?

Silhouette Soft and PDO threads are commonly used for targeted lifting of sagging skin and they give immediate results with long-term stimulation of collagen.

HIFU Thread-Lift
In a nutshell Micro-Focused Ultrasound Bio-absorbable threads
Invasiveness No injections Injections
Benefits Full face skin tightening Lifting of targeted areas
Onset of effect 2-3 months Immediate
Duration of effect Around 1 year Around 1 year
Side-effects Temporary tingling Dimpling of skin, Visible threads
Down-time Needle marks, Bruising Mild aching/ swelling
Pain factor 2/10 (Less for Newer HIFUs) 6/10
Who should do this All-round sagging skin Desire immediate lift
Who should not do this Severe sagging skin (needs combination treatment) Fear of injections

HIFU vs Thread-Lift: HIFU is completely non-invasive.

In patients who have severe sagging skin, I use HIFU to firm and tighten sagging skin first before performing Thread-Lifts.

Price of Non-surgical Facelifts in Singapore

HIFU: from $2000
Thermage: from $3000
Thread-Lift: from $2500 – full face treatment
INFINI: from $1500/session
Fillers: from $800/syringe

Confused about which treatment you REALLY need?

You are not alone. To achieve beauty at any age, speak to your aesthetic doctor for a facial assessment.

Let’s Talk!