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THE BUZZ ON MICROCURRENT FACIALS

WHAT’S THE BUZZ ON MICROCURRENT FACIALS

Microcurrent (MC)facials are almost sensationless and involve sending a very low level of electricity through the layers of the epidermis and dermis. This latest beauty trend might seem a little strange but it has actually been around for a while, initially employed to help activate muscles that had been previously paralyzed and to promote wound healing.They claim to tighten skin muscles, encourage cellular ATP production, reduce swelling, and boost collagen and elastin production which can slow wrinkle formation. Below, we demystify this technique and explore its therapeutic potential. 

WHAT IS A MICROCURRENT DEVICE?

Microcurrent devices include any device that emits microamperes (µA) of electrical direct current (DC) energy. This typically ranges anywhere from 100 to 800 µA [1]. For reference, a milliampere (mA, 1000 µA’s) would give you a strong tingling sensation. Essentially, you wouldn’t actually feel the electric current being delivered to the skin.During a microcurrent facial, a thick layer of gel is placed on the skin which allows a path of least resistance forthe current to travel through, alleviating any topical sensation of electrical stimulation. However, the outcome a patient receives depends greatly on the intensity, frequency, and wave patterns used [2]. 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The stratum corneum (outermost layer of the epidermis) is composed of 57-87% water [3]. The hydrated nature of skin means it functions as a capacitor, acting as both a store of energy and a path for an electromagnetic current to flow through [4]. When a wound is inflicted or even when the skin becomes dehydrated, the electric field is altered and researchers have begun to understand howthe altered current affects downstream cellular healing and rejuvenation processes like amino acid and ATP synthesis [5–7]. Together, these form the molecular machines and provide energy for the machines to do their work, respectively.The end result at the right frequency and intensity is often stimulation of growth factors and cellular metabolism [7–9]. 

AT HOME VS. PROFESSIONAL

There are 2 ways to incorporate MC into your skin care regimen: with at-home devices or with professional med spa or dermatologist visits [10]. Either way, both approaches need to be performed methodically and consistently to achieve long lasting results. At-home MC devices typically cost a few hundred dollars and come with limited settings. A professional med spa visit may cost upward of $100 per visit but includes a full facial and expert guidance on the intensity and frequency that are right for you.Professional and personal devices are FDA approved for safety and can provide a noninvasive, anti-aging supplement to a balanced skin care routine. 

Sources:

[1] MPS Courses, Microcurrent & Electro-Therapy Science.

[2] Houghton PE (2014) Clinical Trials Involving Biphasic Pulsed Current, MicroCurrent, and/or Low-Intensity Direct Current.Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle) 3, 166–183.

[3] Bouwstra JA, de Graaff A, Gooris GS, Nijsse J, Wiechers JW, van Aelst AC (2003) Water Distribution and Related Morphology in Human Stratum Corneum at Different Hydration Levels.Journal of Investigative Dermatology 120, 750–758.

[4] Fish RM, Geddes LA (2009) Conduction of Electrical Current to and Through the Human Body: A Review.Eplasty 9, e44.

[5] Reid B, Zhao M (2014) The Electrical Response to Injury: Molecular Mechanisms and Wound Healing.Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle) 3, 184–201.

[6] Cheng N, Van Hoof H, Bockx E, Hoogmartens MJ, Mulier JC, De Dijcker FJ, Sansen WM, De Loecker W (1982) The effects of electric currents on ATP generation, protein synthesis, and membrane transport of rat skin.Clin Orthop Relat Res 264–272.

[7] Hwang D, Lee H, Lee J, Lee M, Cho S, Kim T, Kim H (2021) Micro-Current Stimulation Has Potential Effects of Hair Growth-Promotion on Human Hair Follicle-Derived Papilla Cells and Animal Model.Int J Mol Sci 22, 4361.

[8] Spadari GS, Zaniboni E, Vedovello SAS, Santamaria MP, do Amaral MEC, Dos Santos GMT, Esquisatto MAM, Mendonca FAS, Santamaria M (2017) Electrical stimulation enhances tissue reorganization during orthodontic tooth movement in rats.Clin Oral Investig 21, 111–120.

[9] Yu C, Hu Z-Q, Peng R-Y (2014) Effects and mechanisms of a microcurrent dressing on skin wound healing: a review.Mil Med Res 1, 24.

[10] Nobile V, Michelotti A, Cestone E (2016) A home-based eyebrows lifting effect using a novel device that emits electrostatic pulses containing RF energy, resulting in high frequency, low level transdermal microcurrent pulsations: Double blind, randomized clinical study of efficacy and safety.J Cosmet Laser Ther 18, 234–238.

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