After a redesign of the devices’ appearance, a treatment that originated in the 80s is experiencing a strong resurgence in spas and salons as an anti-aging option. Microcurrent is the use of tiny amounts of electrical current to stimulate muscles to move. The concept originated with physical therapists who attached electrodes to specific muscle groups to treat injuries and weakness. The FDA has cleared microcurrent to stimulate muscles, and beyond cosmetic purposes, is heavily prescribed to treat a form of facial nerve paralysis called Bell’s Palsy.
How Microcurrent Facials Works
Microcurrent uses a low level electrical current at the same frequency as our own body’s electrical current. The current travels to the muscles and stimulates the production of ATP within the muscle cell’s mitochondria. ATP, adenosine triphosphate, is the source of the cell’s energy. The muscles then work more efficiently.
Microcurrent acts as a workout for the face in the same way a gym workout helps build muscle tone in the body. Microcurrent does not work on the epidermis, dermis or hypodermis. A gym work out will improve physical appearance, building muscle to provide definition to the body. Microcurrent can build facial muscles, providing an improved appearance in the way the skin is contoured over the face.
When the device was introduced in the 80s, it had an intimidating appearance and was just a bit challenging to learn to use. The electrodes were long prongs, like a chopstick, attached to a coiled electrical cord attached to a box the size of a toaster. This required quite a bit of finesse and coordination to stimulate the muscles precisely and achieve results.
Its recent design upgrade makes it look like a handheld rechargeable device about the size of a cell phone, with large knobs for electrodes, making it easier to use. Devices marketed as "professional" level typically have a little more oomph in the electrical current delivery and all treatments will require the use of ultrasound gel or a manufacturer’s recommended conducting gel to get the current to travel between the electrodes and into the muscle.
Magazines articles often tout microcurrent in a celebrity endorsement as a red-carpet treatment because it temporarily creates visible results that can be seen quickly. Results are subtle. Just like a gym workout, frequent treatments of weekly or more, in a series, will provide the best results and maintenance sessions are necessary or the muscles lose their tone. Home devices are available and a nice retail option for a salon or spa.
The medical community isn’t sold on the microcurrent technology. All evidence of its powers to restore youthfulness are anecdotal. No studies exist on its long-term use. But, if you’re looking to add a treatment so your client’s will look amazing at their holiday parties, microcurrent is a fantastic option.
Photo: Shutterstock | SARYMSAKOV ANDREY
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Mary Nielsen grew up in Minnesota but calls Portland, Oregon home for the past 30 years. She is the Executive Director of Spectrum Advanced Aesthetics Institute and serves on the board of Certified Advanced Estheticians for the state of Oregon. She is a happily married grandmother who has been thrilled to be working in the never dull field of advanced esthetics for over 17 years. She spends her free time outdoors or at her sewing machine.
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