Top Santé’s editor Katy Sunnassee trials the latest laser skin-tightening treatment – ULTRAcel – to see whether it works.

[Pictured: Editor Katy (left) with Dr Nyla Raja who offers ULTRAcel skin tightening]

Having reached the milestone age of 40, and being as interested as ever in beauty treatments and products said to rejuvenate and improve my skin, I wanted to know whether a new-generation laser treatment could offer a skin-tightening effect to my neck, which I’d started to notice had become a bit lax.

I first noticed changes in my skin at age 35: a heaviness in my eyelids; loss of plumpness in my cheeks; loosening of the skin under my chin. I remember the moment I first noticed the latter: it was after having taken a shower, as I always wipe the water off my body to a) avoid excess water on the floor and b) not completely soak my towel. I was doing my usual wipe-down routine, which ends with wiping from left to right under my chin, and on this occasion instead of wiping straight across a taught surface, the skin seems to drag along with my fingers!

Next, I noticed it when drying my hair. Looking in the mirror with my head tipped to the side, I was shocked to see a vertical crease from jaw to mid-neck – that had never been there before! I don’t know why I was shocked exactly – after all, we all get older and it’s a natural process, and in Top Santé we celebrate growing older in a healthy, natural way. However, I think, foolishly and naïvely, I had never imagined myself getting and looking older – the first time you notice ageing it feels a bit disconcerting (despite having my first greys at 28 – but you can cover those).

During the ‘spring’ of my 20s, I’d taken my health, my fitness level, my skin, my hair and my looks in general for granted, rarely thinking ahead to how I might one day look and feel. And even though I’d come across a Dermalogica leaflet in 2005 about AGEs – advanced glycation end products – that were caused by eating too many carbs, which damage collagen, I still stuffed my face with chocolate and sweets, oblivious to their cumulatively damaging effects not just on my skin but my teeth and gut, too.

But back to now… and an email had landed in my burgeoning inbox about ULTRAcel – a non-invasive way to tighten and rejuvenate skin. I’m all for the non-invasive part as I’m a wimp when it comes to needles, but I’ll happily try the latest lotions, potions, face masks, facials and laser gadgets any day.

(See me having the treatment done on our Instagram page @TopSanteUK)

The latest way to tighten skin

ULTRAcel, offered by Dr Nyla Raja at her clinics at 1 Harley Street and her new flagship Medispa in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, is a new-generation device offering three types of treatment for skin tightening and lifting as well as addressing fine lines and wrinkles.

The technology combines ultrasound, radiofrequency and, if you want it, microneedling – you can have any one or a combination of these – designed to target all layers of skin. The first uses high-intensity focused ultrasound emitted to 4.5mm, which reaches your skin’s ‘SMAS’ layer; this is your skin’s foundation. The ultrasound causes thermal damage to fascia, the SMAS layer, fibrous tissue in the fat layer and the boundary layer that connects to the dermis above it. It’s the subsequent wound healing process that causes tightness to the skin over the course of a few months, so best results are seen some month after the session.

The second option with ULTRAcel targets the dermis layer, in the middle of your skin, via microneedles; the third, using radiofrequency, targets the epidermis and dermis.

This lady had one session of ULTRAcel

Ultrasound and radiofrequency

As I’m not a fan of the needles, I go for a combo of ultrasound and radiofrequency to offer a double-pronged approach of both tightening the top layer of skin and lifting the deeper foundational layer. This combo of treatments means no downtime – so I’m not paranoid about looking weird when I step back out into the streets of London.

For the most part of the 45-minute treatment it feels like a relaxing facial. Only on one side does it start to get a bit hot and ‘ouchy’ at times – they say one side is always more sensitive. The therapist covers not only my neck and jawline but also cheeks, temples and above my eyes.

(See me having the treatment done on our Instagram page @TopSanteUK)

No down time after the session

My cheeks do go red afterwards but I’d expect that as they always do, no matter what sort of facial treatment I have. My skin looks fresher and feels super smooth, thanks also to the cream applied afterwards. I think I can discern some tightness in the jaw area – I’m told effects can be immediate but the best results come over a matter of weeks and months.

A few days later my cheeks and jaw feel a bit tender to the touch, as if they’re bruised inside. I suspect this is because the skin there is very thin and it’s a boney area, so when the head of the treatment wand is pressed into each section, it’s easy to cause bruising. There’s absolutely no outward sign of bruising though.

A one-off skin-tightening and lifting treatment

ULTRAcel is only meant to be a once-a-year treatment – some clients reportedly fly in from Europe just to have it – and so the big benefit is not needing repeat visits, which is good if you’re time poor like I am. And the effects are said to last 12-18 months…

UPDATE (May 17, 2019): It’s been six weeks since I had the treatment and I have to say I can’t see a huge difference, but then I’m seeing my face every day and so perhaps could not be noticing the change. Also, I’m told results improve over time, due to the deep healing process, so results might begin to become more obvious in another month. Perhaps I’ll have to go back to the clinic and get another ‘after’ picture taken from the side, to compare my profile to the picture taken before the treatment… watch this space. 

See Katy having the treatment done on Instagram @TopSanteUK

ULTRAcel prices start at £500. Email or visit for more information.