These days, there are seemingly endless options for those in pursuit of a sculpted face. Unlike in decades past, when facelifts were the primary mode of lifting and tightening, a proliferation of non-surgical options such as radiofrequency (RF) treatments, chemical peels, and injectables like Botox and fillers can now all help to lift and contour the face. The latest option? A buzzy new treatment called EmFace.
EmFace comes from the same company that pioneered EmSculpt, a non-invasive body contouring treatment that uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy (HIFEM) to stimulate muscle contractions and build muscle mass. Translation? That electromagnetic energy replicates the impact of working out without you having to do any work at all. EmFace works in much the same way on the face, using a combination of radiofrequency and HIFEM energy to lift and tighten the face and brow, as if your face had just done thousands of tiny reps at the gym to get a sculpted and chiseled appearance. But in this case, no trip to the gym is required, along with no injections, no downtime, and no pain.
I’d heard good things about EmFace from a few editor friends who had given the service a try and reported that it offered more dramatic results than sculpting with standard radiofrequency treatments or injectables. Curious, I asked the renowned New York City-based plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, MD, for the full 411 on EmSculpt, from what to expect during a session to how long your results can last.
How does it work?
EmFace works by combining radiofrequency (which uses energy waves to heat the deep layers of your skin and stimulate collagen) and electromagnetic stimulation (which uses electrical currents to induce muscle contractions). These work together on the muscles on the "elevators" of your face, which are responsible for pulling everything on your face up, from your cheekbones to your forehead to your jawline. EmFace works on all of these areas to give the face an overall lifted appearance.
“It’s really treating those muscles that lift the face up,” Dr. Levine says. “And it doesn’t do anything at all to the muscles that would pull the face down. The treatment is so powerful because it combines really working those muscles with radiofrequency, which is going to gently warm up the muscle, and also help with collagen stimulation, wrinkles, and overall look and feel of the skin.” What this means is that EmFace works in two ways, which are more powerful together. And you can feel both during the treatment.
During a treatment, you’ll have applicator pads put on your face that are hooked up to a grounding pad that facilitates the radiofrequency. There is a gentle twitching feeling during the twenty-minute session—that’s the electromagnetic stimulation, pulling those muscles up—and a warming sensation that comes from the radiofrequency. The combination of these two effects is what gives EmFace its powerful results. It’s like a two-for-one treatment, working on the deepest layers of the skin.
EmFace is unique as it is the only treatment that really strengthens the muscles of your face. It doesn’t just work on collagen—although it does that too, thanks to the radiofrequency—it actually strengthens the muscle itself, which is part of why the face slims down and perks up. Botox works on the muscle as well, but through paralysis, which doesn’t actually strengthen the muscle. EmFace does. Think of it like low-impact weight lifting for your face, delivering toned and lifted results as a result of many muscle contractions, only in the case of EmFace, all you have to do is sit back and relax rather than hit the gym
What results can people look for?
The goal of Emsculpt is to leave skin looking lifted and sculpted. “You’ll feel like the shape of your face is elevated,” says Dr. Levine. “Like your cheek is more elevated, your eyebrow is more elevated, your eyes look more open. We're trying to create more of a V effect to the face.”
As someone who also gets Botox and fillers, I was curious if EmFace is meant to replace those (although unlike injectibles, which make them disappear, EmFace sort of softens their appearance but still leaves them visible). According to Dr. Levine, most people may still opt for both treatments. "EmFace is working on a deeper layer of tissue,” she told me. “It's working on the muscles of facial expression themselves. And it's increasing the density of the facial muscles, which is going to what's going to add some of that more natural volume and put them back up into a more elevated position.”
Because EmFace works deep within the skin to target those elevator muscles, it delivers a lifting effect. And through that, you can expect to look refreshed, contoured, and smoothed after a full course of treatment.
Who is a good candidate?
EmFace is suitable for almost anyone. It can be done as a preventive measure for younger patients, or to give a more sculpted look to people of any age. And for everyone, the lifting and tightening should be significant.
“This is really a treatment for all ages,” says Dr. Levine. “So we can have very young people who are interested in prevention or in achieving that V effect. And then people who are older are definitely going to see a change in their face. They will feel and look more youthful, rested, and just better in general.”
As for who might not be a good candidate? Anyone with a metal or an electrical implant, like a pacemaker, will want to steer clear of EmFace. So will those who are pregnant.
What happens during a session?
An EmFace session starts with a grounding pad affixed to your shoulder and several applicators attached to your face. Together, these form a radiofrequency circuit that channels energy from the EmFace device to your face. Then, you lie back for twenty minutes and let the machine work its magic.
The sensation isn’t painful, although it does feel a bit strange: Your face will pulse and lightly twitch, and the pads can get a bit warm. The pulsing and warmth will increase throughout the duration of your session. But you are free to use your phone or nap while the treatment is working, so twenty minutes goes by in a flash. After that, you’re done. You’ll be unhooked from the machine and sent on your way, with no to minimal redness, and a slightly lifted appearance immediately.
It’s a notably different experience from botox and fillers, which can be a bit harrowing for those unfamiliar with needles. During my EmFace treatments, I basically kicked back with TikTok or Netflix for twenty minutes throughout the sessions, as a warm pulsing sensation spread across my face from the pads. I personally find the injection process of botox and fillers a bit painful and nerve-wracking, but I didn't feel that way with EmFace. Though it isn't quite as relaxing as facial, it came with none of the stress around needles and pain that injectables typically do (for me, at least).
How many sessions do you need?
Experts recommend four sessions of EmFace, spaced a week apart, although results may vary from person to person. It is important to note that full results will not be visible for approximately eight weeks after your last treatment. Results should last for about a year, although some people choose to come in for maintenance sessions every three to six months.
How much does it cost?
EmFace is an expensive treatment compared to more common injectables like Botox and fillers. The exact price will vary based on the location and the doctor, but an average cost is between $5,000 and $6,000.
Despite the high price tag, EmFace is a treatment that has the potential to change the face dramatically yet subtly. After a course of treatment, it leaves the face looking refreshed, revived, and lifted, without any of the obvious hallmarks of “having had work done.” It looks extremely natural because it is extremely natural, working on the muscle itself, along with collagen stimulation, to provide extraordinary results, even among today’s extensive catalog of sculpting and lifting treatments.
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