Traditional facials are a gimmick in skin care. They do not work for acne, anti-aging or anything else. All they do is make your skin older because estheticians use peels that kill healthy skin cells, pick at your skin to extract blackheads which causes disfigurement, and they use bad skin care that causes skin disease. But in modern times there are modern facial methods. One such method is the laser treatment, and laser treatments come in many varieties. One such variety is the radiofrequency laser. Just like all other facial treatments and methods out there, the radiofrequency laser boasts anti-aging results via a non-invasive procedure.
I have been asked for years my thoughts on radiofrequency lasers for anti-aging purposes and I wasn't able to speak for or against it because the literature on the subject was lacking and I had never tried it. Nor had I spoke to anyone who had either, so I had no basis to form an opinion. Until last week.
I went ahead and received a radiofrquency facial at a medical spa in Los Angeles, here is what happened.
When I went to the medical spa, the first thing they did was take a before photo. I think they do this for everyone who goes to the spa because it was obvious that the majority of their customers are there for plastic surgery. The problem is in the before photo they told me not to smile. In the after photo they told me to smile, so this automatically makes my cheeks lifted (see photo below). They also told me to frown and scrunch up my forehead for some of the photos, which creates wrinkles. I think this is to do a comparative after photo without doing those expressions, which will make it seem like there was wrinkle reduction, but really its because you're not creating expressions that wrinkle the skin.
I then went into the room and waited for the physicians assistant to come in to do the procedure. When she arrived she explained the procedure and told me that the Tempsure uses a combination of radiofrequency heat and delivers that through a specialized massage head.
These frequencies penetrate into deeper layers of the dermis, causing a contraction of the collagen and elastic fibers. The idea is that by doing so your body will increase collagen synthesis. The Tempsure device itself looks like a wand. First a conductive gel is applied to your face. Then the wand heats up and is slowly moved over your face in sections, focusing on the lower cheek, upper cheek, eyes and forehead. The entire treatment takes about an hour.
After the consult we began the procedure. The conductive gel was applied to my skin and the PA who was administering the procedure started rubbing this metal wand across one section of my face, and as she rubbed the wand got hotter. The wand kept getting hotter until it detected that the section of my face to be receiving the treatment reached 40C. Once the temperature reached 40C the radiofrequency portion of the treatment began. And the radiofrequencies were delivered into my skin through the wand for 5-7 minutes.
It is important to note here that the clock does not begin on the radiofrequency part of the treatment until the wand heats your skin to 40C, and the wand keeps your skin this hot until the radiofrequency part of the treatment is done. So if it takes your skin 30 minutes to heat up, it will take that long before the actual procedure begins. My skin took about 2 minutes to reach 40C per section.
The Tempsure wand is hot and the person administering the treatment has to be constantly moving the wand over your face in a precise pattern and with exact timing; if the wand hovers in one spot for too long it can burn your skin. So it’s critical that these treatments are done by a qualified experienced professional. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they can really do damage to your face. If you get this procedure done, be sure to get it done by an actual medical professional who has done this for at least one year. Your health is dependent on their experience.
The entire procedure felt like a hot stone massage on my face, with little tiny heated stones being massaged over different sections. When we began I was certain this treatment was going to have a bad outcome because this procedure goes against a key idea I’ve been writing about for many years: never put heat on your face because it causes inflammation.
But I was surprised to discover the Tempsure treatment felt relaxing. After the PA had done the treatment on half of my face, we paused; I was expecting my skin to look red and blotchy. Instead, when I looked in the mirror, the half of my face that she had treated was significantly lifted. The skin felt firmer, smoother and there was hardly any redness. But there was redness. We continued with the treatment and despite my initial skepticism, I really did look instantly younger.
Before Tempsure is the image of me on the top. In the bottom image, you will see what I look like after the procedure. You can see that my skin is red afterwards, and there may be some lifting but it is difficult to tell because I was told to smile in this photo, which may give the illusion of lifting. Regardless, my skin felt a lot firmer after the procedure.
But immediate results such as lifting make me concerned because this is only done when your body is reacting strongly to something. Perhaps it was the skin care equivalent of fast food: you get an immediate short term kick but in the long term, it’s not good for your health.
My concern about the heat component of the procedure was twofold: heat causes inflammation and heat also creates heat shock proteins in the skin. Heat shock proteins are a family of proteins produced by cells in response to exposure to stressful conditions, such as heat. They were first described in relation to heat shock, but are now known to also be produced by stresses other than heat including exposure to cold, UV light and during wound healing or tissue remodeling. I was concerned that applying any kind of heat to the skin could create these proteins because they destroy collagen, which is the exact opposite of what this procedure claims to do.
For heat shock proteins to be activated the consensus is that temperatures have to above 45 degrees celsius. At 40 degrees, Tempsure was below that. But, maybe still close enough to elicit harmful results if done in the long term.
I am also concerned that playing too much with the collagen in your skin by manipulating its structure via lasers might have damaging long-term results. Collagen degrades with aging, and aging is the accumulation of damage over time. Changing the structure of an existing collagen fiber is a way for it to become damaged over time.
I believe that the Tempsure treatment left me with more questions than answers: Is a little heat ok if it is only for this procedure, which is done 3-4 times per year? Is manipulating the collagen structure via laser a good thing or a bad thing? Are immediate firming results a sign that this procedure works, or is it a warning that it is too harsh?
Positives about the procedure were that there was no down time, no needles, no pain (other than a minor amount of short-term sensitivity) and nothing invasive about the treatment. The negatives are the heat component of the procedure and the price: at $800 a session, it’s certainly not something that everyone can afford.
I do not believe I will go back for another treatment because the positive results, which included firming and lifting were short lived. And as I have said before, skin care, like healthy eating and exercise, needs to be done every day to have an actual benefit.
And this type of procedure, given the amount of heat bombarded into the skin, is not something that is safe to do every day or even every week. So on top of the high price tag, the heat that your skin is exposed to, the short lived results, and the dubious collagen promoting claims and health benefits, I would not recommend this procedure.
This procedure is one of the reasons why I created OUMERE, because there was so much I was told to do for my skin, from treatments to skin care products and none of it worked. Or it did a lot of damage. Skin care is a lot of taking one step forward and three steps back, and I wanted to end that.
I discovered with OUMERE that right skin care that gives you your best skin naturally, by preserving what you have and promoting your body's own natural anti-aging ability. And you can just do it every day and go on with your life. You don't need to be on a constant quest for that "one weird thing." You already figured out skin, so now you can go on to other important things in your life.
Save your $800 and put it towards what works: daily, proper skin care.