Using HIFU For Fat Loss, Skin Tightening…And Fat Gain

Using HIFU For Fat Loss, Skin Tightening…And Fat Gain


High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has long been used as a solution for skin tightening and fat loss; however, new research has now uncovered its ability to increase fat. Let’s delve into the science behind this fascinating technology. 


What Is High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound? 

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that uses ultrasound energy for skin tightening, fat loss and, more recently, fat gain. At The Lovely Clinic, we favour the ULTRAcel Q+ device, which delivers focused ultrasound waves to specific depths depending on the purpose of the treatment. The handpiece creates a cone beam effect so the energy bypasses the superficial layers of your skin and targets a specific point or line, typically at a depth of 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 3 mm or 4.5 mm. Deeper body cartridges reach depths of up to 13 mm and are solely used for fat loss


Dot Vs Line

To begin with, HIFU devices were designed to deliver energy as a series of dots beneath the surface of the skin. By heating pinpoints of skin tissue to 65° or above, collagen denaturation occurs. Localised coagulation also causes collagen fibres in the subcutaneous fat layer to become denatured and contract. This simultaneously lifts the skin and triggers the production of new collagen strands, which further tighten lax skin.   


Modern devices, such as the ULTRAcel Q+, use linear cartridges that fire a line of HIFU to treat a larger surface area each time the handpiece is applied. They are mainly used to contour the face by heating skin tissue to around 58°. This is the temperature that triggers fat loss, however, a misunderstanding of how to use these devices has resulted in them gaining a bad online reputation. 


There are hundreds of accounts of ultrasound devices ‘melting my face’. We only recommend using the ULTRAcel Q+ for fat loss if you have a fuller face. It seems that a lack of understanding has led people to treat the entire face in an unsuitable setting, leading to widespread fat loss rather than skin tightening. A qualified and trusted cosmetic doctor understands the relationship between cartridge depth, energy frequency and temperature, and can use HIFU for targeted fat loss or fat gain; in the wrong hands, you can start to see why these horror stories exist!


Last year the ULTRAcel Zi was released, which allows your doctor to switch between dot and linear settings without having to change the cartridge. This will significantly reduce treatment times and streamline procedures. It’s not available in the UK yet but we’re desperate to try it – as soon as it’s within our reach, we’ll let you know!


HIFU For Fat Loss

As you get older, you put on fat in various areas, including the eye bags, nasolabial folds, jowls and the marionette area. This is not simply a repositioning of existing fat, it’s the development of new fat cells. HIFU devices are an effective way to shrink the fat in these areas. 


ULTRAcel Q+ uses targeted ultrasound to rapidly heat adipose cells (fat cells), leading to thermal coagulation and, ultimately, their destruction. Once the adipose cells are disrupted, the body’s natural lymphatic system works to eliminate cell fragments from the body over time.

The process of decreasing adipose tissue typically leads to a gradual reduction in localised fat deposits in the treated area, resulting in a slimmer and more contoured appearance.


Historically, it’s been said that linear cartridges are used for facial contouring and fat reduction. Recent research has demonstrated that dot cartridges can actually cause greater fat loss. The study used a dot mode with 7MHz of frequency, 3 mm focal depth and 0.6 J of energy on rats. The results showed that fat thickness gradually decreased even in cases where the HIFU did not cause cellular necrosis. This is because heat from the ultrasound triggers the production of p53 in mitochondria which induces apoptosis and autophagy. Therefore, if focused ultrasound is blindly used across the face at temperatures that are not supposed to result in fat loss – you’re still going to get fat loss!  


HIFU For Fat Gain

Using focused ultrasound for fat gain is a brand-new concept that we are incredibly excited to share. Dr Tonks first heard about it during a conference in Japan last year but there is still a very limited number of studies published. A 2022 study reported that HIFU irradiation could cause an increase in adipose tissue. Irradiating the skin with high-intensity focused ultrasound upregulated hsp70s and reduced inflammatory cytokines. It also governed the cilia of the adipose-derived stem cells, increased the number of adipocytes and increased the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer. Fat gain occurs due to a decrease in the amount of inflammatory cytokines that you have in your adipose tissue, which causes you to grow more fat in that area. 

Facial areas such as the temples, forehead and below the cheekbone lose fat as you age. The new scientific evidence demonstrates how we can now use the ULTRAcel Q+ in a much more subtle and refined fashion. HIFU can remove fat from areas where you have fat hypertrophy and gain fat where you’ve not got enough of it, whilst also being used to generate collagen and tighten the skin. 

The Lovely Clinic Youtube Video


Personalised Treatments At The Lovely Clinic 

There are some clinics in South Korea and Japan that are already using HIFU for fat gain, however, The Lovely Clinic is the first place to offer this treatment in the UK. If you follow Dr Sarah Tonks’ YouTube channel, you’ll have heard her discussing how the repositioning or atrophy of fat can cause you to look older. Until super recently, the only way that you could gain more fat was the use of needles – now this can be done with a non-invasive procedure. 

When you book a consultation at our clinic, we will create a bespoke treatment plan based on your unique needs. We can manipulate the ultrasound cartridges to induce fat loss, fat gain or skin tightening depending on the area of your face being targeted. 

To be one of the first people in the world to receive this cutting-edge treatment, get in touch. Call 020 3695 5400, email or complete our online booking form. We’re excited to experience this journey together!


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