What Is Emface, the "Needle-Less Filler"?
If you're a creature of habit and extremely loyal to your filler, Botox, or any other injectable, the thought of trying a brand-new treatment for sculpted cheekbones and lifted skin may not be all that appealing. (As the old beauty adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't switch up on your dermatologist.) On the flip side, if you're after a skin-tightening solution that does more than your face cream but doesn't require any needles or downtime, there may be good news for you. BLT Aesthetics (the same company responsible for EmSculpt and Emtone) has launched a new treatment touted as the "needle-less filler" called Emface.
So far the treatment has gotten the stamp of approval from a handful of celebrities, including actor Rebel Wilson, who recently shared her experience "getting snatched" by Emface on Instagram. (She says it helps any time she wants that "movie star look.") But what does this "needle-less filler" entail? Is it too good to be true?
To get a complete breakdown, we asked double-board-certified facial plastic surgeons Yael Halaas, MD, FACS, and Jennifer Levine, MD, FACS, to answer any and all questions about Emface. Read on below to learn about what it is, how it works, and if it's right for you.
What Is Emface?
Emface is a noninvasive, in-office treatment device that uses a combination of high-intensity facial electromagnetic stimulation (or HIFES) and radiofrequency to lift the face and brows, restore volume, and soften wrinkles. Instead of needles, the wand applicator contracts the facial muscles as a way to tone the skin. So, how does it work?
If you're familiar with EmSculpt Neo — the body treatment device that tones the arms and abs — and are wondering if it's similar to Emface, the answer is yes. Dr. Levine explains that EmSculpt Neo also uses a combination of radiofrequency and high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology to cause supramaximal muscle contractions to reduce fat, tighten skin, and build muscle on a targeted area. With Emface, it uses HIFES to cause the same muscle contractions to specifically target the face muscles, specifically the frontalis muscles (the muscles responsible for lifting the eyebrows), the zygomaticus major and minor muscles (the muscles responsible for your facial expressions), and the risorius (your cheek muscles). She says that radiofrequency warms up the muscles and tightens the skin, which will cause the tissue to produce new collagen. The warmth of the muscles helps the HIFES work more effectively as it causes contractions to get more lift and tone.
Three applicators are placed on your face: one on your forehead and one on each of your cheeks. A grounding pad is then placed on your back to help complete the radiofrequency circuit and wire it to the face. You sit for 20 minutes while the pads pulsate and stimulate your face muscles, and then you're done. Both Dr. Halaas and Dr. Levine say that it takes about four 20-minute treatments for best results.
Skin-Care Benefits of Emface
"Emface reduces fine lines and wrinkles, while tightening the muscles in the face to provide an overall refreshed, tighter, smoother complexion and lift to the brows, cheek, and jawline," says Dr. Halaas. "In addition, [it adds] a natural restoration of volume." Dr. Levine adds that because the treatment relies on the body's own response to the contractions, results look much more natural and not "overdone or strange."
What's the Difference Between Emface and Filler?
The main difference between Emface and filler or other injectables is that Emface is noninvasive. "Filler relies on an outside product being used to restore volume," says Dr. Halaas. "Emface is restoring your own muscle [by] toning the face with radiofrequency for subtle skin and smooth effects."
Dr. Levine says that because Emface doesn't need needles to increase volume in the face, there is no downtime or the pain and bruising that might come with injectables. She adds that some people may feel that they might need less filler than they did before thanks to the lifting and tightening effect from Emface. "Emface works by increasing the density and thickness of the muscles; the muscles are contracting during the treatment, which builds more muscle. This in combination with lifting leads to an effect of increased volume," she says.
Still, both experts note that one treatment isn't necessarily better than the other. Emface and filler can last up to at least one year, so it all depends on what you're looking for. "Both modalities can work wonders for the right patient," says Dr. Halaas. In fact, Dr. Halaas says that Botox and filler can coexist and won't cancel out the other if you decide to get both; Dr. Levine says that Emface can even complement other procedures if you use it in combination with other facial treatments.
At the end of the day, every patient is different, and you should always consult with your provider before going in for any type of treatment.
Who Can Get Emface?
While Emface is well tolerated by most skin types and can work across all skin tones and age groups, Dr. Halaas does note that those with metal in their face — either from metal dental implants or metal braces, among other forms — should not get the treatment. Since the applicator uses radiofrequency, any metal could interfere with the electromagnetic waves and cause pain or potential damage to the face. If you have piercings, Dr. Levine recommends removing them before treatment and putting them back on once it's over.
"Almost every patient is a good candidate for Emface," she says. "Younger patients can benefit from preejuvenation [a way of delaying signs of aging]. Older patients will notice a change in lift and wrinkle reduction."
Image Source: courtesy of BTL Aesthetics
Is Emface Painful?
Unlike injectables, both Dr. Halaas and Dr. Levine say that Emface is not painful — and can in fact be quite the opposite, with some patients commenting that it is a pleasant experience or that the pulsations are relaxing. This of course is still dependent on each person, but you can expect pain to be very minimal or nonexistent, even if you have the lowest tolerance for it.
How Much Does Emface Cost?
Currently, Emface is being sold as a package at participating dermatology offices. A package of four sessions can cost around $4,500, on average. That said, the price will differ depending on your geographic location and where you get the treatment, with Dr. Levine noting that it will be likely more expensive in metropolitan cities.
Potential Risks or Downsides of Emface
Tl;dr: there aren't many. Both Dr. Halaas and Dr. Levine say there are almost no negative side effects and no additional post-care treatment that you need to do to upkeep results. You can pretty much book an appointment whenever is convenient for you and go about your day right after, whether that means back to work or out to dinner with friends. (And no need to sleep on your back for side sleepers). Dr. Levine says all you have to do is stay hydrated pre- and post-treatment and keep up with your regular skin care routine to keep your skin looking healthy and glowing.
So if you've ever wanted to lift and tone your face but getting something injected doesn't appeal to you, this "no needles" approach may be just for you. Plus with zero downtime and very minimal — if any — side effects, there's never been a lower risk to trying something new.