One of my favorite things about being a beauty editor is getting to test non-invasive beauty treatments, like microneedling and acne scar-erasing lasers, before they become available to the public. So when I got an email back in August with an opportunity to try Emface, a new facial procedure from BTL (the makers of the popular body toning treatment Emsculpt), I was incredibly excited to test, since it's being touted as a needle-free filler replacement that leaves your face more sculpted, tighter, and toned.
Even my dermatologist friends were referring to the treatment as "revolutionary" and "a game-changer," especially for people who want to enhance their appearance in a more natural way and without needles or downtime. So I promptly scheduled my series of appointments with plastic surgeon Yael Halaas, MD, at her practice in New York City, and now, about four months later, I'm fully seeing the Emface results.
So if you're curious like I was, keep reading for my Emface review, including what to expect from the treatment, how long it takes, and ultimately, if it's worth trying for yourself.
What is Emface?
Emface is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes a combination of HIFES (high-intensity facial electrical stimulation) and radiofrequency technology to improve facial muscle density and stimulate collagen and elastin production, says Dr. Halaas. "As of right now, it's the only device that can address and reverse the two main causes of aging—loss of facial muscle tone and loss of collagen."
So how exactly does Emface work? In short, the HIFES contracts your forehead and cheek muscles with an electromagnetic current to elevate and lift facial tissue, while the RF technology uses heat energy to prompt a wound-healing response in your skin. This process increases collagen and elastin, the two main protein's responsible for keeping baby-soft and plump.
What are the benefits of Emface?
Emface has a ton of benefits: It creates lift, restores volume, and reduces fine lines in the face, says Dr. Halaas. "It also tones underlying facial muscles to provide an overall refreshed, tighter, smoother complexion." Dr. Halaas also says Emface can lift your brows and make cheekbones looks more prominent, which were definitely the two most noticeable benefits I experienced after my round of treatments.
How is Emface different than filler or Botox?
Historically, if you wanted to lift and sculpt your facial features or smooth fine lines, you'd need to head to a derm for a neurotoxin (like Botox or Xeomin) and/or filler. Emface is said to create these same filler-like effects in a more natural way—and without the use of needles. Fillers inject hyaluronic acid into the face to add volume and lift, while Emface strengthens facial muscles to add volume and lift. Botox paralyzes facial muscles to prevent lines and wrinkles from forming, while Emface uses RF heat to smooth lines and forehead wrinkles.
For what it's worth, I've tried all three: Botox, filler, and now Emface. And while I *do* think Emface produces comparable results to Botox and filler, it's significantly more subtle. Botox straight-up eliminates my forehead lines. Emface softened them. I've only tried cheek filler once and it made my cheekbones look more voluminous, while Emface just made them look more lifted. Personally, I prefer the result from Emface—it looks less puffy than filler.
Unlike Botox and filler (Botox kicks in about a week post-treatment and the results from filler are nearly instant), Emface takes some time before you see a noticeable difference in your skin (think: a few months). Collagen building and muscle strengthening is a long game, and I didn't really notice a difference until after my third treatment, with the results being more and more noticeable as the weeks went on. On average, Emface results peak about 90 days after your last session and continue to improve with time.
How long is an Emface treatment?
Each of my Emface treatments took about 25 minutes from start to finish. To prep for your treatment, your provider will wipe your cheeks and forehead clean with an alcohol pad so the stickers adhere to your skin properly. They'll also stick a grounding pad to the skin on your back. Once the treatment stickers and grounding pad are in place, the 20 minutes treatment begins.
And remember, Emface isn't a one-and-done thing. "You'll need to complete four sessions—spaced about a week or two apart—to see the full results," says Dr. Halaas. "And maintenance sessions may be required once or twice a year depending on the patient and their desired goals." If you're not going to commit to all four sessions, Emface isn't the treatment for you.
Is Emface painful?
In my experience, Emface isn't painful, but it definitely feels weird—especially the first time you try it. Unlike other non-invasive treatments, like Clear and Brilliant or RF microneedling, there's no numbing and absolutely zero downtime. After your treatment, you can go about your day as usual.
Your practitioner will place three sticky pads on your face—one on each cheek and one on your forehead. Each pad emits mild heat that feels reminiscent of a hot stone massage. Nice and relaxing. They also vibrate, which results in this weird involuntary twitching of your facial muscles (exhibit A: my face in the video below). If you've ever tried microcurrent, it's a similar sensation just most intense.
What does Emface cost?
IMO, the biggest downside to Emface is the hefty price tag. The price varies by location and practice, but in general, expect to shell out $4,500 for a series of four treatments, says Dr. Halaas. Hopefully, as the treatment becomes more widespread, the price comes down a bit.
Is Emface worth it?
There's no denying Emface is a total game-changer in the non-invasive beauty treatment space. It's safe for all skin tones and skin types (one exception—"patients with metal in their face are not candidates for the treatment due to the energy being released through the grounding applicator," says Dr. Halaas) and is a great way to quickly lift, tone, and smooth without any downtime or injections.
But will Emface replace filler for me? Nope, because nothing makes my forehead as satisfyingly smooth as a few units of Botox. Will it prevent me from trying filler again? As of right now, yes. Would I recommend it to anyone who wants to experiment with anti-aging treatments in a subtle, relatively low-commitment way? Absolutely.
Meet the expert:
Yael Halaas, MD, is a double board-certified plastic surgeon in New York, NY. Dr. Halaas specializes in facial cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures. She is an international speaker for major aesthetic brands, as well as a clinical investigator for new treatments.
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Lauren Balsamo is deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with nine years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from the best exfoliators for sensitive skin to a comprehensive Hydrafacial review. She regularly tests and analyzes new cosmetics treatments, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists and aestheticians to assess new technologies.
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