When you think of ultrasound, perhaps the first thing to come to mind is the sonogram women receive when they are pregnant or a type of inexpensive imaging performed in ERs across the country. But, ultrasound energy is used in the medical world for more than just imaging. Newer forms of technology use ultrasound energy to remove fat from the body or to tighten the skin on the face and neck.

Ultrasound offers a number of benefits over traditional surgery. Your doctor can help you decide if a treatment that uses ultrasound is right for you.

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a type of sound energy with a high frequency, usually above 18 or 20 kHz. You can’t hear ultrasound. The first practical use of ultrasound energy was in 1912, when it was used to search (unsuccessfully) for the Titanic. Later developments allowed the energy to be used to help doctors diagnose brain tumors. By the 1950s, it was being used to create two dimensional gray scale images. By the mid-1960s, it was used to create images of the inside of the human body in real-time.


Liposonix is the device used to remove fat from the body using ultrasound energy. It’s one of the only body contouring options available that is completely  non-invasive. The ultrasound energy penetrates the skin, meaning the surgeon doesn’t have to make any incisions.

Ultrasound energy also goes much deeper into the fat than treatment methods that use radio frequency, lasers or cold. The form of energy used by Liposonix also goes much deeper than the energy used in laser assisted lipo. As a result, most Liposonix patients see better results after one treatment.

During the treatment the surgeon will place the head of the device on the appropriate area. The ultrasound energy is targeted at the fat, creating a lesion in the fat. The skin is left unharmed and unaffected by the ultrasound. Once the fat is destroyed by the energy, the body’s system of removing waste products natural flushes it out.

Liposonix treatment is usually relatively quick and comfortable. While you may feel a tingling or pricking sensations, you won’t need anesthesia and should be able to get back to your regular activities the next day. Your doctor will recommend that you follow a certain diet after the treatment to help and may advise that you wait a few days to start exercising again. Many patients lose about an inch of fat from the treated area and typically see results after about eight weeks.


Ultrasound energy can also be used to tighten and tone the skin. Ultherapy is one treatment that uses ultrasound to give you a more youthful look. As with Liposonix, during Ultherapy, the ultrasound energy penetrates through the top layer skin. This time, it goes down to the dermis or the foundational layer and encourages the production of more collagen.

Collagen is a type of protein that plays a pivotal role when it comes to keeping skin firm and elastic. Everyone begins to produce less and less of it as they get older, which causes skin to sag and become loose. Examinations of patients who have had Ultherapy have found that the collagen produced as a result of the treatment often has staying power and helps the skin look more youthful for years to come.

Ultherapy is a completely non-surgical procedure that takes about an hour to perform. Like Liposonix, the downtime after Ultherapy is very short and many patients can get back to their regular activities the next day. Many patients need a single treatment to get the results they want, which are visible about three months after the treatment.

The treatment is an option to consider when you’re not quite ready for a facelift. The skin should start to show some signs of looseness but shouldn’t be too loose or saggy. If your skin is very loose, your doctor might recommend a facelift instead. Ultherapy can also be used to help you maintain the results of a facelift years down the road.

If you want to learn more about how ultrasound energy can help you look younger or lose that last stubborn inch of fat, Dr. Kyle Choe is happy to answer your questions. Dr. Choe’s practice is the first in the Virginia Beach area to be able to offer treatments such as Ultherapy. To learn more and see if Liposonix or Ultherapy is right for you, contact his office for an appointment today. Schedule your consultation by calling 757.389.5850.