Phoebe Watt tries out an Ulfit treatment at Lovely by Skin Institute, touted as a non-surgical ‘lunchtime facelift’. Did she rate it?
Last month, with an obnoxious series of events at which my family and friends were forced to celebrate me ad-nauseum (theirs, not mine), I turned 30. Never one to fear growing older (life’s a gift you guys) but vain as all hell, my only concern about entering into my fourth decade was actually looking like I belonged there. Because as much as I hate waiting for the Countdown supervisor to approve every single alcohol purchase, do you want to know what I hate even more? When the checkout operator looks at my bottle of Cloudy Bay Pelorus, then looks at me, thinks, ‘Yep, definitely not 24’, and swipes it on through.
I digress. At Newmarket’s newly opened Westfield (and with other stores located at Albany, New Lynn and Manukau), there’s a lovely place called Lovely by skin institute. Yes, Skin Institute that’s regarded as one of New Zealand’s best skin and appearance medicine clinics. Skin Institute that’s touted as the go-to for skin cancer prevention and surgery. Skin Institute whose highly experienced doctors sign off all of the state of the art, world class offerings – including laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and peels, cosmetic injectables and fat-reduction treatments – that are performed at Lovely by registered nurses and highly trained therapists. It’s a separate business (the walls at Lovely are pink you guys!) but suffice to say, it operates at the same impeccably high standard as its parent company.
Partly because I’m now chasing eternal youth, and partly because I’m innately curious about cosmetic treatments and whenever an email goes out at work seeking guinea pigs for a story, my kneejerk response is “Hook me up fam!” I recently paid the team at Lovely Newmarket a visit to experience what had been sold to me as a ‘lunchtime facelift’. The non-surgical treatment is called Ulfit. You can find detailed, technical explanations all over the internet, but let me attempt to paraphrase it.
Basically, this non-surgical and effective treatment designed to tighten, lift, smooth and contour the face and body involves a hand-held ultrasound device being passed over the treatment area while transmitting high-intensity, focused ultrasound energy to generate a heat point of up to 75 degrees celsius, deep in the skin’s subcutaneous fat layers. This creates localised tissue damage which kick starts the body’s wound-healing process, stimulating collagen regeneration. In even simpler terms, what you’re doing is decimating the old collagen in your skin that has already started to naturally deteriorate and cause those tell-tale signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles, and skin slackness. The new collagen that is quickly formed to replace it is much stronger, and this results in facial and body contours that are significantly more youthful-looking.
Sat on a comfy couch at Lovely Newmarket on the afternoon of my treatment, I filled out a new patient form where I was asked to disclose any medical conditions, medications, allergies … the whole story. My therapist Natasha then took me into the treatment room where we spent another 15 minutes triple-checking everything in the form, and I had the possible side-effects (minor!) and essential after-care instructions (easy!) communicated to me. This might sound boring but it is so important. Please, for the love of Lizzo, if you step foot inside any skin clinic, anywhere, for any treatment, no matter how innocuous you might think it is, and you are not immediately faced with the same barrage of questions and commands, pick up your micro-purse, turn sassily on your heel and GTFO. It’s just not worth it.
At Lovely I was of course in expert hands, so with all the boxes ticked, it was time to get down to business. This is the part where I tell you that Ulfit isn’t painless. Truthfully? It gets a little gnarly. Natasha described the sensation as feeling like warm bubbles under the skin. I’d say “hot sizzling” is more accurate. This is the tolerable bit, when the cartridge is being passed over your neck and up around your forehead. The bit that made my eyes water, while I smooshed the stress ball in my hand like it was the tiny brain of my worst enemy, was when the cartridge was passed over bone – think the cheekbones, jawline, and right up under the chin. It was not pleasant. I’d liken it to that deep, dull, shooting nerve pain you associate with a toothache or migraine. But! It’s! Over! So! Fast! And! You! Can! Do! It! Seriously. The whole treatment lasted around 30 minutes, and I was probably only hating life for a total of four of them. The rest was entirely manageable, like a hygienist appointment. And you know, no pain no gain.
Let’s talk about that gain. Now, despite what I said earlier, I didn’t actually think I looked half bad for my age. Then, halfway through the session, Natasha gave me a hand mirror and told me to look at the difference between the treated and untreated sides of my face. I was shook. I looked like I’d had a stroke. On the treated side my brows were lifted, my cheekbones chiselled, my jaw and neck defined. The untreated side – I can hardly type the words – drooped. I thrust the mirror back in Natasha’s hand, lay down, gritted my teeth and told her to keep going.
Here’s the thing about those instant results. What’s actually causing them is temporary inflammation which, weirdly, just happens to mimic the final results you’ll see in six to 12 weeks. In the meantime – probably within a week or so – the inflammation will subside and your face will look normal again. Don’t worry. There’s magic happening beneath the surface of your skin, and when your old collagen has completely broken down and the new collagen has come through, you’ll get that ‘facelift’ effect for real. Around this time, you should have a follow up appointment where for maximum impact, a second round of Ulfit will likely be recommended. After this, expect to enjoy that slimmer, firmer, more youthful-looking face for a good 18 months, which is when your collagen will naturally start to deteriorate again and you might want to look at a touch up treatment.
Let’s talk pricing. At $1499 for the full face, jowls and neck treatment that I had, Ulfit isn’t cheap. But smaller concerns, such as wrinkles around the eyes, can be targeted for as little as $229 if two sessions are purchased up front. Lovely is committed to making beautiful skin accessible for all, so they will always keep pricing as affordable as possible, without cutting any of the corners that will compromise your safety. Keep that in mind if you are shopping around not just for an Ulfit equivalent, but any cosmetic treatment. Appearance medicine is no joke, and if a price sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.
I’m now a couple of days post-treatment, and while my face still feels slightly tender, it’s been no big deal. The after-care was straightforward – gentle skincare, no extreme heat, and religious sunscreen use (as if I wasn’t doing that already). The effects, on the other hand, are so far subtle yet impressive. I by no means look like I’ve had obvious work done, but those who see me every day have commented how good my skin looks. My newly-angular face means my front-camera already hates me less. And yes, I was ID’d at the supey last night. Long may that continue.
Words: Phoebe Watt
This article is brought to you in partnership with Lovely by Skin Institute. Ulfit results may vary from person to person – to understand how the treatment might work for you, book an appointment with Lovely by Skin Institute for a treatment consultation. Before commencing any treatment, including Ulfit, please ensure you seek consultation from a trained medical professional.