A painless way to take your face to the gym

When it comes to anti-aging, the pursuit for the latest ‘it’ treatment is never-ending. Microcurrent facials are one of the latest innovations to spark a conversation.

This beauty treatment uses electricity to promote cell growth in skin. Sounds shocking but the procedure is noninvasive, injection-free, and painless. Extra bonus? “These treatments have immediate benefits with absolutely no recovery time,” says Graceanne Svendsen, LE, CME, licensed aesthetician at Shafer Plastic Surgery and Laser Center.

Are you intrigued? We spoke to an expert to find out how microcurrent facials work, cost, and if it’s all worth it in the end.

“Microcurrent machines in facial aesthetic applications are used to ‘work out’ the muscles of the face, stimulate collagen, and tighten skin appearance,” says Svendsen. “Microcurrent uses low-voltage electricity to stimulate muscle, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) cell growth, and collagen development in the dermis on the face.”

Microcurrent facials tighten and smooth the muscles and connective tissues in the face by increasing cellular activity, and have been shown to reduce wrinkles, mostly around the forehead area.

“Microcurrent has been around for decades, especially in physical therapy, so it is very safe, effective, and targeted,” says Svendsen. Physical therapists have used microcurrent therapy treatments since the 1970s for pain relief and even facial paralysis conditions, like Bell’s palsy.

“There is a gentle, zingy feeling — my not-so-technical term — and occasionally as the current is applied near the nerve attached to the muscle, it will jump,” says Svendsen. “This isn’t painful, it just feels ‘alive’. Most patients love the feeling since it makes them confident that something is happening and a connection has been made!”

“Expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $500 per session for microcurrent depending on your [location], with LA, Miami, and NYC being the most popular with higher price points,” says Svendsen.

In some cases, aestheticians may also offer microcurrents as part of a facial package, meaning you won’t just be paying $250 for an electric face lift. They’ll also clean, extract, soothe, and hydrate your skin so you leave the salon glowing.

There are also home devices to try for a similar cost. And they can be used more frequently — theoretically, infinitely. But these devices aren’t as powerful as the ones professionals use and may not provide noticeable results on first use.

Remember, when it comes to at-home devices, your results will vary. Reviews have indicated everything from looking decades younger to charging difficulties. Before using, you’ll also want to make sure the product you choose comes with a conductive gel or recommends one to purchase.

With that price tag in mind, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll get the best results from microcurrent facials when you do them consistently. The power in its effect is cumulative, meaning the benefits add up and stick around with frequent treatments.

“Since this is a modality that requires consistency, patients do weekly treatments,” says Svendsen. “What’s even better about microcurrent is that it is painless and gives my patients instant gratification.”

If you’re new to microcurrent facials, your aesthetician will work the settings according to your skin

“As with any technology, when working with a new patient, or a patient that is new to the modality, I use baseline settings to start,” says Svendsen. “The creativity comes with the knowledge of the machine, the feedback of the patient, and whether or not I’m getting my clinical endpoint. Most machines don’t work like stereos where there is a volume button ‘up or down’. Mostly there are algorithms and variables where the practitioner is looking for the sweet spot.”

And your treatment plan may also vary on how quickly you want lasting results.

“After the initial four to six week, weekly-treatment phase, I move my patients to a bi-weekly protocol,” says Svendsen. “This is the best treatment plan for long-lasting results. But if we are fast-tracking someone for a wedding or an event, then weekly truly is necessary.”

While microcurrent facials are minimally invasive, there are some people who shouldn’t have a microcurrent facial.

“All skin types are safe for microcurrent, which is why I call it my ‘naturalista’ facial,” says Svendsen. “[However], patients with pacemakers, metal implants, or who have open sores, such as severe acne, [should avoid the microcurrent facial].”

People who are pregnant or nursing may also want to avoid the procedure. “The microcurrent device has never been tested or clinically used on a pregnant or nursing mom, so there is an unknown variant [when it comes to its impact on mom or baby],” says Svendsen.

And if you’ve had certain face fillers, you also aren’t a good candidate. “Patients who have had a lot of Botox or neurotoxin may not benefit from the upper face treatment on microcurrent since their muscles are frozen,” says Svendsen.

If you’re ready to try a microcurrent facial, make sure you do your research to find a qualified provider.

“[The procedure may] look slightly dramatic,” says Svendsen. “The microcurrent is stimulating the smaller muscles of the face. Too much of the nerve stimulation could be tiresome and unnecessary, but nothing to warrant a warning. What’s always important is to find a provider through a personal referral; someone who is licensed and certified to do these treatments.”

Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, weight loss, and fitness. She is based in Pennsylvania and loves antiques, cilantro, and American history.