At 34, I’m no stranger to cosmetic intervention; Clear + Brilliant, Laser Genesis, CoolSculpting, Botox—you name it, I’ve probably tried it. But when my CIDESCO aesthetician, Gabrielle Hope Bradley at Flash Lab Laser Suite, told me I should try their new Nouvelle Radiofrequency Microneedling device, I was skeptical. Firstly, she said there’d be downtime—a word I’m pretty allergic to. I can take one or two days of redness and tight skin, but anything that requires a recovery time of more than a few days and I’m generally out. Who has weeks to spend lying around looking like your face is melting off?
But Bradley can be very convincing. For starters, she explained, the benefits of RF microneedling are multifold—and, here’s the kicker, unlike laser or injectables, they’re permanent. RF microneedling can be used to help eliminate fine lines, improve wrinkles, stretch marks, acne scars, large pores, loose tissue, hyperhidrosis, surgery scars, and sun-damage pigmentation. “I like to think of RF fractional microneedling as a way to naturally enhance your skin,” Bradley says. “If you have early signs of aging or just want to try something to upkeep skin laxity, thermal energy RF microneedling is a gorgeous choice.”
Here, everything you need to know about the treatment.
What is RF microneedling?
Like traditional microneedling, RF microneedling uses a device that contains hundreds of very short, very thin needles to create microscopic injuries in the skin, which stimulates cell regeneration. RF microneedling, however, also uses radiofrequency technology, which heats the skin and helps tighten it. “The heat from the device actually remodels collagen and the depth of the needles create a controlled injury to promote elastin cells to regenerate, smoothen, and tighten the elastin fibers of the skin,” explains Bradley.
What’s the process like?
When doing a procedure like RF microneedling, the most important thing is picking a certified aesthetician you trust who can do it in a clean, sterile environment. There are also several things you definitely shouldn’t do beforehand, including getting Botox or injectables two weeks before the treatment, or taking an NSAIDs like Advil one week beforehand.
The day of my procedure, I showed up at Flash Lab and Bradley cleansed my skin before applying a skin-numbing agent, which she left on for an hour. Afterwards, she cleansed my skin again and disinfected it with alcohol before beginning the procedure.
How does it feel?
Bradley described the treatment like a rubber band snapping back and stinging you, and that’s pretty much exactly how it felt. Different spots on the face are more painful than others; those that are closer to the bone, like the forehead, tend to be less painful than fleshier areas, like around the eyes and cheeks.
How long does the treatment take?
Depending on the surface area of the spot you’re getting done, the treatment can take anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. I got my whole face done, and it took about 45 minutes, not including the time it took to numb my face.
What does your face look like after?
“After the process of RF microneedling, it is expected to feel like a light sunburn and have red inflammation of the skin,” explains Bradley. “Swelling is quite normal, and tiny little red dots can take up to two weeks to fully heal and go away. A cold cool compression on the skin can help ease any inflammation. I love the use of LED light after to soothe inflammation and help kill any bacteria that may be around after the treatment.”
Immediately after my procedure, my face was extremely red and a swollen, and it felt like I had gotten a horrible sunburn. The redness stayed with me for a few days, but gradually got better, and was almost completely gone by the fourth day.
What is the procedure aftercare like?
After the treatment, you may experience a mild acne flare-up, itchiness due to dryness, and scaly skin.
“After the treatment, it is best to stay away from makeup for at least 48 to 72 hours to prevent bacteria spreading underneath the skin, and exercise for up to 72 hours,” says Bradley. “Sweat in combination with the healing process of your skin can intervene and prevent your skin from healing with ease and drive more breakouts to appear. If there is a history of cold sores on the skin prior to the treatment, taking antiviral medication can be best to prevent any reactivation or stimulation of a cold sore after the treatment.”
How long does it take to see results?
Results should appear around the six-week mark, and improve with every subsequent treatment. Bradley recommends two to four treatments total.
How much does it cost?
RF microneedling costs about $900 per treatment on average, but the price fluctuates based on where you live and where on your body you decide to get it done.
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