By now most people already know about plasma skin tightening, aka fibroblast or plasmalifts. It's also one of the top requested procedures and the one that I usually get the most questions about. So, let's talk about plasma skin tightening.
What is it and how does it work?
Plasma skin treatments are the newest and latest alternative to remove wrinkles, age lines, excess skin, certain blemishes, moles and many other skin conditions. Unlike traditional surgical facelifts, plasma skin treatments burn small, concentrated dots using a microneedle on the treatment area, causing your skin to shrink and regenerate itself and induce collagen in the process. The effect causes the skin to tighten naturally as it heals.
Plasma treatment uses the fourth state of matter – plasma. Tissues are treated “sublimate” and we avoid spreading unwanted heat to the surrounding areas by using a microneedle. The principle is to ionize gas in the air to create a small electrical arch, similar to a tiny lightning bolt, with which the dermal and epidermal areas are affected by aesthetic problems, may be treated without spreading unwanted heat to the surrounding areas.
In the video below, you can see how plasma works. The microneedle is the size of a skin pore and as it burns tiny dots, it creates a tiny crater in the skin, causing the skin around it to shrink. Each dot causes the skin around it to dissipate and shrink towards the center of the burn. You can see it clearly in the video below. Note that the camera is zoomed in 20x and the dots are extremely small compared to what you see in the video.
How does it compare to traditional facelifts or browlifts?
1 out of 5 of my clients have had either a facelift or browlift (or both) prior to getting plasma done. 1 out of 3 of my clients have strongly considered facelifts and browlifts prior to deciding on getting plasma done. The four major benefits of plasma over traditional surgical lifts are:
No. 4 - Minimal Downtime
Traditional face and browlifts requires anesthesia and surgical incision. This typically causes swelling and bruising for roughly a week and an additional week to heal for the stitches to be taken out. So you're looking at least two weeks minimum for the scar to heal up somewhat. With facelifts, the incision is also done in the hairline so there will be some loss of hair in the area. With plasma, the procedure is non-invasive and never punctures the skin surface. Most clients heal within 5-7 days and a procedure can be done within 2-3 hours and 3-4 days of rest time.
No. 3 - Non Surgical
Traditional surgical options like facelifts and browlifts are just that - surgical. The surgeon cuts a small area, pulling the skin tight, and snips off any excess skin and stitches the area back up. Both procedures leave a massive scar either in the hairline (for facelifts) or behind the ear (browlifts). With plasma, there is no cutting or scarring because there is not an incision. The microneedle never even punctures the skin surface. It only causes small surface burns to the outermost area of the skin, causing it to shrink and contract, one dot at a time.
No. 2 - Better Results
Plasma yields much better results than traditional surgeries because it is done gradually, one area at a time. If you have wrinkles around the cheek areas only, or wrinkles around the forehead only, you still have to do an entire facelift because traditional facelifts only works that way. The entire area is tightened and it cannot be spot-checked the way plasma does. The cost for plasma is also significantly less as well since you only want to focus on areas that you need.
No. 1 - Rinse and Repeat
This is the single reason why plasma is dramatically better than traditional surgery - you can do it over and over again. With traditional surgical options, each time you come in for a surgery, a new scar is created and the surgeon cannot cut on the same area again. If you came in for a facelift four times, you will have 4 long scars that will run from ear to ear on the top of your scalp. Plasma leaves no scarring and requires about 4-6 weeks to completely heal before you can work on the same area again. Other than some minor swelling and redness, you can keep taking away those wrinkles and sagging skin until you're happy.
This client had plasma performed on her upper and lower eyes and around her mouth and jowls. The photo on the right is taken just 2 weeks after the first session was performed.
There's a lot of pros, but what about the cons?
Of course with any type of cosmetic procedure, there are pros and cons. Let's look at each one so we can bear the risks vs. rewards.
Beauty is pain, or so they say, and it is very true. If you've ever had any sort of cosmetic treatment, whether it be microneedling, microbladed eyebrows, lip fillers, botox, or any sort of tattooing performed, you know it can be painful. The biggest difference with plasma is that it burns and scorches the surface of the skin and can be extremely painful. On a scale of 1 to 10, plasma is about a 7. Fortunately, getting a good practitioner is absolutely key since he or she will properly numb you up with topical numbing cream that will bring that pain level down to a 2 or 3.
The most sensitive areas will always swell up. The eyes, areas around the mouth, the cheeks, and abdomen tend to swell up more than others. Swelling is very normal and it is our body's way of telling us that it is irritated. Swelling typically does not last for more than a day and goes away very quickly. In the image below, you can see the progression of a plasma procedure. The areas around the eyes swell up for a day, but subsides quickly and the redness and irritation lasts no more than 2 to 3 days.
Because the outer skin is burned, there will be redness in the area for 6-10 days. Once the redness subsides, new skin cells begin to form, making the skin look overly sensitive and fresh. Everyone is different and some clients heal extremely fast (3-4 days) and others heal slightly slower between 12-14 days.
Plasma is not a magic pill that gives you instantaneous results. It does not take away years of skin sagging and wrinkles instantly. Instead, it is a very slow progression that happens about 2-4 weeks before you start seeing some real results. The skin is destroyed and dissipates with the small burns. The body needs time to heal and create new skin. There is no other way around it and it is a slow process. Don't opt for plasma if you plan on attending a wedding in the next two weeks. Know what to expect from the process.
Medical / Skin Issues
People with skin hyperpigmentation and heart and health problems should discuss with their practitioners first prior to looking at plasma. While the results are amazing, plasma is not for everyone and medical / skin issues can be a problem. Hyperpigmentation causes any damaged skin area to become dramatically darker, leaving dark patches of skin once healed. Anyone with high blood pressure and heart problems can have issues with numbing cream and pain sensitivity. A good practitioner will handle each scenario properly and walk you through the process.
This is probably the number one problem when it comes to plasma. After all, plasma looks simple enough right? You take a little device and burn some random dots and you're done right? Wrong. There is so much more than that. A client's skin, medical and health condition, age, sex, ethnicity and even diet can have a dramatic shift in the procedure's results. On top of that, a practitioner's skill in understanding the plasma device, its function on frequency, what power to use, what dot pattern to apply, how much numbing cream to use and on what areas all have a role to play. There is a lot of bad work out there and a lot of it stems from one bad practitioner training the next. Most courses that teach plasma skin tightening is 1-2 days in length. Heck, there are even 2-hour long online courses you can take too. No, no, and no. This is a surefire way to get some permanent burn scars on your face and trust me, you don't want to be that person.
In a nutshell, plasma skin tightening is one of the most effective procedures to treat wrinkles and excess, sagging skin to hit the cosmetic industry in the last decade, but it's not without its risk. And the most hard-hitting risk is finding a proper, good practitioner to do the procedure that will yield the results we deserve. Ask a lot of questions and find out as much as you can before committing to a practitioner. Consultations are completely free and you should never do anything based solely on the price. If you see plasma skin tightening offered on Groupon and other discount sites, run and run really fast. You honestly get what you pay for.
Plasma skin tightening's benefits far outweighs its risks. The results are much more natural and is pretty much permanent since it burns off any excess skin and wrinkles. It leaves no scarring and any redness, hyperpigmented areas or swelling subsides over a short amount of time. Any pain only lasts during the procedure and goes away by the next day so there is very little downtime. And best of all, it is still a fraction of the price of traditional surgical lifts.