Sagging and drooping of the facial skin and muscles happens as we age and is exacerbated by sun exposure and lifestyle practices. But what if you could vibrate the muscles under the skin, to firm and tighten that drooping face? This non-invasive technology was originally designed to strengthen muscles in your body, but now doctors say it could work for your face as well.
Why does the skin on your face droop and sag with time?
Facial ageing is a multifactorial process involving both intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors affecting different facial tissues – skin, fat pads, facial retaining ligaments, muscles and bone. As we age, there is loss of bone, fats, and subcutaneous tissues, and laxity of facial ligaments, resulting in loss of structural support for the face. The superficial fat pads in the face start to descend and the facial features start to go down south, resulting in the formation of nasolabial folds, jowls, and a saggy lower face. Repetitive muscle movements and sun damage also result in the formation of fine lines wrinkles and pigmentation.
Our facial muscles are unique muscles that arise from bones and are attached to the overlying skin via the facial system. As we age, the facial muscles weaken and the resting muscle tone also becomes lower. The weakened facial muscles are therefore unable to hold the facial tissues in place resulting in droopy eyebrows and saggy cheeks.
If we are able to strengthen the facial muscles, the resting muscle tone will be increased and the muscles will have the strength to hold the overlying facial tissues in place resulting in lifted eyebrows and firm cheeks.
Are facial creams and facials enough to lift and nourish skin?
There are many facial creams and facials in the market that claim to firm, lift, and plump up the skin. But do they really work?
Facial creams and facials must include the right active ingredients designed to boost collagen and elasticity of the skin as firming or lifting the skin is not just about increasing hydration, but also thickening the skin to give it more firmness, which comes from collagen and tone as well as enhanced elasticity.
Some active ingredients include:
- Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has been shown in many clinical studies to stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin.
- Daily use of exfoliants containing salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA) can also help. Along with exfoliating the dead skin cells for smoother skin, research also shows that these ingredients help to build more collagen and hence firm the skin.
Facial creams and facials containing retinol, salicylic acid and AHA are good to help stimulate the growth of collagen in the skin and firm the skin. However, they are not enough to tighten and lift the skin.
We will still need the help of devices to target the deeper facial tissues e.g., the facial muscles, ligaments and facial system also known as the SMAS or superficial musculoaponeurotic system to lift and firm the skin. Some of these devices use technologies such as HIFES (High-Intensity Facial Electrical Stimulation), RF (Radiofrequency), and HIFU (High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound waves) to lift and firm the skin.
Why target the facial muscles (HIFES) and collagen/elastin production (synchronised RF) in this way?
Emface is the first US-FDA-cleared and CE-marked non-invasive device on the market utilizing the simultaneous application of both synchronized RF and HIFES energies for non-invasive facial lifting and wrinkle reduction.
Our facial muscles can be broadly classified into elevators and depressors of our facial structures. For example, the forehead muscles called the frontalis muscles are the only elevators of the forehead which lift the eyebrows and upper eyelids. The muscle elevators of our midface are mainly the zygomaticus major, minor and risorius muscles which act to elevate our cheeks, upper lips, corners of the mouth and the jawline.
RF technology remodels and smoothens skin by heating the dermis and increasing the production of collagen and elastin, resulting in an overall improvement in skin quality.
The HIFES technology causes supramaximal contractions of the elevators of the forehead i.e. the frontalis muscles to lift our eyebrows and upper eyelids and the elevators of our midface, i.e. the Z. Minor, Major and Risorius muscles in a lift and tighten the cheeks and jawline. It does this by increasing the density and quality of the muscle fibres and resting muscle tone.
In clinical studies, it has been shown that after 4 sessions of 20 min of EmFace treatments, patients enjoyed:
- 37% Reduction in Wrinkles
- 23% Lifting Effect
- 26% Increase in Collagen
- 30% Increase in Muscle Tone
Is this technology intended for other muscles in the body? And is it too intense for the facial muscles?
EmFace works on the face. It uses RF technology to build collagen and elastin in the skin of the face to improve skin quality, and the HIFES technology to target specific muscle groups in the face, namely the muscles that elevate the eyebrows, upper eyelids, cheeks and jawline.
To burn fats and build muscles in the body: abdomen, flanks, arms and thighs. Emsculpt Neo is the solution to that. Emsculpt Neo is also the world’s first USFDA-cleared device that utilises the simultaneous application of synchronised RF and HIFEM technology which stands for High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Stimulation.
Emface and Emsculpt Neo use different technologies to target different areas of the body.
Emface utilizes the HIFES (high-intensity facial electrical stimulation) technology while Emsculpt Neo uses HIFEM (high-intensity focused electromagnetic waves).
HIFEM technology of Emsculpt Neo can penetrate up to 7cm – 10cm of the skin to reach the entire thickness of the deep muscle groups, while the HIFES technology of EmFace can penetrate up to 2 cm of the skin. The EmFace applicators are designed to work on the small delicate superficial muscles of the face.
Where on the face is this applied and what is the treatment protocol like? (How many sessions, how long etc.)
There are three applicators which are applied on the forehead and both cheeks.
The forehead applicator tones the frontalis muscles of the forehead resulting in the smoothing of the forehead, a reduction of the horizontal wrinkles, and lifting of the eyebrows and upper eyelids, while the cheeks applicators reinforce the zygomaticus major, minor, and risorius muscles leads to a reduction of the depth of nasolabial folds and a tightening of the jawline.
The Emface protocol is one 20-minute treatment every week for four weeks. Generally speaking, most patients can see some results after the second session, with the maximum results seen at 12 weeks. The results can last 6 to 9 months, depending on the patient’s skin condition.
Boosting sessions of Emface to maintain the good effects may be required at 2-3 months intervals for optimal results. For more elderly patients with more sagginess, more sessions of Emface for example, 6 sessions may be needed for optimal results.
Is there any downtime or risk of side effects?
Emface is completely non-invasive, has no downtime and is painless. No adverse events or complications were observed or reported during any of the clinical trials.
Is EmFace for everyone?
EmFace is suitable for anyone who has skin laxity, saggy eyebrows, cheeks and jawline, yet is not ready for any surgery or injectables, and looking for an aesthetic treatment that is non-invasive, painless and has no downtime to lift and tighten the skin. EmFace is contraindicated for people with heart pacers, metallic implants, breastfeeding or pregnant.