Pay-out-of-Pocket Surgical Alternatives Fuel Ulthera Success

Ulthera is a Mesa, AZ company that sells medical devices: ultrasound skin tightening equipment for doctors’ offices. Most of its customers are cosmetic surgeons looking for non-surgical alternatives for patients to pay out of pocket and are demanding easier ways to get results than old-style cosmetic surgery. Ulthera’s part of a community of medical device makers that have always been in Arizona but usually fly under the local radar.

Last week, I tried it.

As I’ve gotten older, and especially since my husband died, how I look has not been my prime concern. I work around geeks (software engineers and startup founders) and they all wear t-shits and flipflops, so I got in the habit of
wearing jeans and a random top, and not wearing makeup.

Fast forward to the present, and one day a photographer who had taken a photo of me 25 years earlier forwarded it to me and I thought to myself, “I looked pretty good back then.” I realized I had not been taking care of myself, and I made a pact with myself to dress better and look like “myself” rather than a frumpy geek. I promptly lost twelve pounds and bought some business appropriate clothes, including a…hold your breath…dress! I even started wearing makeup again. Once I did that, people began telling me how great I looked immediately.

Even the geeks. I realized that as an angel investor and adviser to startups, it had probably always been inappropriate to try to look like a software engineer.

I thought Ulthera was a good place to continue my “makeover,” especially because I could write about them and use them as an example to other entrepreneurs. They have found a market in a segment of health care not covered by insurance.

A yoga buddy of mine works for them and told me they were recruiting people for a training session/patient comfort study. I invited myself. Basically, I was part of a customer satisfaction study: how do we set expectations with this patient so we can exceed them?

I arrived at the comfort study having taken the four ibuprofen they had recommended an hour before the procedure. For two hours, I had a trainer and a trainee working on my face. I was laying on a table, with a blanket under my knees, and every time the trainee used the ultrasound wand on another part of my face, I was asked if I were comfortable. Except when they applied the wand to my neck, I was. (Scale of 1-10 they wanted to keep me at a 4).

Because of my age and my general fitness level I have very little fat in my
face, and that works against you during this treatment; fat layers make it less
painful. For me, they were often applying the ultrasound pretty close to the bone, so they used all kinds of techniques to insure my comfort. Lots of interaction.

I was told to expect a result gradually over 3-6 months and to come back for
photos at those intervals. But when I got up from the table, I saw an immediate result, with no bruising, no swelling, no real after effects. I guess it works:-) And they did a great job making sure I was a satisfied customer (not much pain, great bedside manner).

Today I feel as though I look generally better, although perhaps not perceptibly to anyone but me. Will this change my life? Of course not. I didn’t expect ANY treatment to change my life. But it will make me feel slightly better about myself as I continue to work among people who are often even younger than my children. Thus I conclude that Ulthera is destined for success.


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