Hollywood has gone holistic. Microcurrent, the non-surgical face-lift, which tones tired and sagging muscles, is back in fashion. It has capitalized on the recent surgery backlash and reinvented itself as a red-carpet ready facial beloved of celebrities who are in-the-know.
It's Time to Reevaluate Microcurrent Facials
Microcurrent facials had very little competition when it was first launched in the 1980s. But the non-surgical market has expanded rapidly since then and it has been overtaken by more sophisticated firming treatments, such as radiofrequency and ultrasound.
It has languished among medispa treatments, like microdermabrasion, lunchtime peels and oxygen facials until Hollywood came calling. Where does it belong now? Read Microdermabrasion: Your Ultimate Guide to Effective Skin Rejuvenation.)
What is a Microcurrent Facial?
A therapist moves two metal prongs all over the face which deliver a low-voltage current through the skin to perk up weak, ageing muscles underneath. Unlike the rest of the body, facial muscles are directly connected to the skin, so for several days afterwards brows, jowls and cheekbones are lifted and nasolabial folds softened.
Improved facial circulation brightens up the skin, so active ingredients can penetrate more deeply and make up goes on more smoothly. Improved lymphatic drainage reduces any facial puffiness, especially under the eyes.
Why Do Therapists Love Microcurrent Facials So Much?
Therapists love microcurrent facials because they give their clients an instant glow. The skin looks more awake, more supple and generally healthier. However, a good therapist would not recommend microcurrent to a client with loose sun-damaged skin because it tightens muscles, not skin. The idea is to delay a face-lift as long as possible, not replace it.
Electrical Stimulation is Used Therapeutically to Treat Sports Injuries and Speed Up Wound Healing.
Electrical stimulation has been used therapeutically for decades. As with Botox, the anti-ageing benefits were noticed accidentally. When patients with Bells Palsy received electrical stimulation to retrain paralyzed facial muscles, they noticed that their skin looked firmer afterwards.
There is over 20 years of medical research proving that microcurrent speeds up muscle repair and wound healing.
But Can a Microcurrent Facial Really Tone My Face?
Yes. But like exercise the results are temporary. Did you know that there are over thirty muscles in the face? Therapists can stretch out frown lines which have become tight and embedded. They can also strengthen muscles along the jawline that are used less often and have started to lose tone.
Why Are Dermatologists So Cynical About Microcurrent Facials?
So the technology works on damaged muscles, but does it work on ageing muscles? Dermatologists argue that the the skin sags for various reasons and doubt whether toning benefits can be cumulative.
Show Me The Microcurrent Proof
Although there has been less research into microcurrent facials, the results are promising. Studies generally concur that microcurrent increases both muscle tone, collagen and elastin production over time, but requires regular upkeep.
A 1992 study into electroacupuncture (the current is delivered by acupuncture needles rather than probes) spanning several years showed anti-aging improvements in 70 percent of cases after 10-15 treatments and regular maintenance. If only they had used probes...
A clinical trial in 2012 showed impressive improvements in before and after photos. Unfortunately visual comparisons are not considered reliable by the medical community.
Time To Reinvent Microcurrents As an Anti-Ageing Medical Facial
It would be pointless to try and compete with firming treatments such as radiofrequency and ultrasound which give longer lasting results. Read Your Comprehensive Guide to Fractional Therapy (Plus, 22 Popular Fractional Lasers).)
Instead, the microcurrent facial should join forces with innovative treatments such as IPL and LED in a bespoke monthly anti-ageing facial which maintains the skin's health and radiance.
Or a Natural Face-Lift
The timing is perfect for a more holistic approach to ageing – no one wants to look "done". Microcurrent facials have dependable safety credentials with no downtime. It's far more effective than facial exercises which can stretch the skin. It's the perfect companion for a natural facial lifting massage. Both release tight muscles which trap toxins and increase circulation for that all-important "glow".
Or a Companion to Botox
Some dermatologists recommend a course of microcurrent facials for long term Botox users. Could paralysed muscles use less energy and wither away? Those with a slim face and thin skin could be left with a sunken face and deep nasolabial folds. Microcurrent keeps the circulation flowing around the muscles delivering nourishment to the tissues.
It may also increase the lifespan of Botox and create facial symmetry (a symbol of beauty) by increasing muscle mass on one side. (Read Botox at 30? Why Millennials Want Injectables Now.)
Both Medispas and Microcurrent Facials Can Survive - But They Need to Adapt
Microcurrent has stood the test of time for good reason. The studies are very promising, but more are needed, especially comparing it to other treatments. It should also be aware of its limitations and aim to complement rather than compete with newer treatments.
Medispas need to enter the lucrative non-surgical market to survive and microcurrent facials could be the key.