Getty Images

Are Ultrasound Waves the Secret to Eternal Youth?

In 2017, technology makes just about every aspect of our daily lives a thousand times better—think Amazon Alexa, the TV that looks like a painting and an app that adds sparkles to everything. And skin care is no exception. The latest high-tech beauty trend? Ultrasonic waves—and we’re not just talking about that Clarisonic. Here’s what you need to know about the buzzy (not literally) new treatments.

Um, I need a refresher on what, exactly, ultrasound means.
Ultrasonic literally translates to sound waves beyond the upper limit of human hearing. For the non-scientists among us, it’s probably most familiar as the mechanism OB-GYNs use to get a glimpse of still-developing babies in utero.

So why are we using it on our faces?
Basically, ultrasonic waves act like crunches for your face. High-frequency sound waves stimulate collagen (aka the protein that gives skin elasticity and firmness) by working their way deep into your face, past the top layers of the epidermis and facial muscles. This sets off a healing reaction, and your skin gets a mini lift. Ultrasonic technology also breaks down the particles in serums, allowing them to penetrate deeper into skin, along with providing an immediate after-glow due to the temporary boost in circulation.

Where can I get it done?
First off, ultrasonic treatments take a few different forms. Several NYC spas offer ultrasound and high-frequency facials (often as an add-on to regular facials). Those looking for a more intense treatment may want to try Ultherapy (available from Upper East Side derm Paul Jarrod Frank), billed as a non-surgical “lift” that uses heat in addition to high-frequency waves to target the deeper layers of the skin. (Heads up: This one isn’t for the faint of heart and is often accompanied by a mild sedative.) If you’re in the market for something a little less intense, visit Smooth Synergy for a Hydrating Ultrasonic Facial. The aestheticians incorporate a vitamin E serum and oxygen mask into the treatment, which takes only an hour, for an added boost of hydration and softening.

Why would I want this?
It depends on the results you want. Acne? Ultrasonic waves can kill bacteria and increase cell turnover. Rosacea? Ultrasound facials can reduce swelling and redness. Just looking to stave off the effects of time for a while longer? Dr. Frank says the more intense Ultherapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgery or fillers.

Will I see results right away?
You’ll definitely notice an after-glow immediately, since the high-frequency waves stimulate blood circulation. However, for the more heavy-duty treatments, it can take up to a few months to see intense firming results. Since the procedure stimulates your body’s naturally produced collagen, it may take some time for the collagen to kick into gear.

What about in six months? A year?
Ultrasound facial results can last about a year, and up to two years with great after care. Again, depending on the state of your skin when you go in and how many treatments your dermatologist thinks are necessary, you may need several treatments before you get lasting results. 

Is this going to cost me an arm and leg?
Ultrasound facials start around $180, depending on the spa. If you’re interested in the more intensive Ultherapy options, the procedure can run you anywhere $1,500 to $4,500 depending on how many services you need. We know—it’s not cheap. But there’s one other way to dip your toe—er, face in the ultrasonic pool: You can always DIY with an at-home device for around $200 and give yourself mini face-lifts whenever you want.

RELATED: Ulta Is Opening Its First Manhattan Store—and We Totally Get Why the Rest of the Country Is Obsessed