The non-surgical aesthetics sector continues to grow with no signs of slowing down. Patients and providers alike love minimally invasive procedures for their scarless results, in-and-out nature, and often downtime-free convenience. The flipside is the rate at which technology advances. While cosmetic surgery techniques evolve over time, it’s nowhere near as quickly as how fast non-surgical procedures wax and wane. Treatments that were once popular go-tos basically become obsolete as cutting-edge, of-the-moment tech that works faster, better, and more comfortably than before replaces those former favorites.
This can also make it tough to keep up with what’s new and next in non-surgical aesthetic medicine, which is why we’re doing the homework for you. The following up-and-coming non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures for face, skin, and body are headed for star status, and we’ve tapped top experts to learn more about why they are gaining buzz. Perhaps you'll discover a new favorite treatment that you've been waiting years to arrive.
1. For Next-Level Skin Tightening & Lifting
- The Treatment: Emface
- The Technology: Muscle contraction & skin tissue heating
- Best For: Non-invasive skin tightening & lifting
How It Works: The BTL Aesthetics family of noninvasive technologies — you may recognize the brand by it's award-winning high-intensity focused electromagnetic muscle (HIFEM)-building treatments like Emsculpt Neo® and Emsella® — has a new face-focused treatment to add to the group. Enter Emface. Although details about the procedure are still very much under wraps, we know that the device uses proprietary energy to tighten and lift facial muscles.
Injectables and fillers have their place, but there's also only so much they can do to lift the face. With filler comes the tendency for over injecting, starting them too young, and aesthetic and medical complications, says Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a board certified cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFRANKMD in New York City. “The technology will target non-invasive skin tightening to help people limit the amount of injectables they get,” he shares.
The goal is to create the lift that patients desire without being as dependent on filler or needing it as frequently. “Emface is an answer to the demand that the market is calling for right now and the reason why non-invasive treatments – like microneedling, energy-based devices, and lasers – are increasingly popular,” Dr. Frank explains. “I think Emface will add to that ethos of what technologies have done for the body in terms of being able to affect several aspects of the skin to minimize the need for other types of more invasive procedures.” For now, that’s all we know, so stay tuned for more.
2. For More Even Skin Tone
- The Treatment: Glacial® RX
- The Technology: Cryomodulation
- Best For: Improving melasma, rosacea, acne, uneven skin tone
How It Works: Cold temperatures have been used in body contouring for the past decade (think: CoolSculpting®), so the concept of harnessing the cold to improve a specific concern or condition is nothing new. However, what is innovative is the idea of cryomodulation – a proprietary cooling technology that normalizes melanin production while reducing inflammation. Glacial® RX is the first device to use the method, which temporarily freezes melanocytes to suspend melanin production and treat pigmented lesions, redness, and inflammation, says Bruce Katz, MD, a board certified dermatologist and the founder of JUVA Skin and Laser Center in NYC. “It is also the first to use a cold probe to treat the skin,” he adds.
If you are wondering how cryomodulation differs from a procedure like CoolSculpting®, they are targeting different things. CoolSculpting® freezes fat cells to permanently destroy them and reduce stubborn fatty areas like the stomach, thighs, and buttocks. Glacial® Rx, meanwhile “temporarily freezes melanocytes to suspend melanin production,” Dr. Katz shares. “When melanin production pauses, new cells form without new pigment, resulting in a more evenly toned appearance on the skin's surface.”
The downtime-free Glacial® Rx treatment takes 10 minutes or less and feels akin to a cooling facial, though it provides a long-term, anti-pigmentation effect that can last upwards of one year (with diligent sun protection). During treatment, a cold plate is manually applied to each area that needs to be addressed. The chill also takes down any puffiness and redness in the skin. Some minor side effects include erythema (redness), micro-crusting, and temporary darkening, all of which resolve independently. However, after two to three treatments over a few months, the full results are seen.
Speaking of results, Dr. Katz says the cooling technology immediately clears up congestion and skin dullness anywhere on the body. Over time, the benefits become more pronounced. “This new technology is the first FDA-approved dermatologic treatment to use cryomodulation to treat dark spots,” he explains. “According to studies, physicians saw an improvement in 92 percent of patients at one-month follow-up.”
So far, patients receiving Glacial® Rx like the results they see. “The feedback is positive, and the results are pretty quick,” he says. Plus, because there's no downtime, he reports that those who have experienced the treatment like that they don't have to take time off of work or interrupt their lives to recover.
3. For Smoothing Out Dimples & Puckers
- The Treatment: Endosphères® Therapy
- The Technology: Compressive microvibration
- Best For: Tackling cellulite
How It Works: With the exception of Qwo™ injections, cellulite treatment often calls for the septae bands that fat bulges out of to be severed or cut in some fashion. Now, there is another technology on the scene to offer an alternative. Instead of clipping said bands, the Italian-developed Endosphères® Therapy relies on stimulating blood flow while providing oxygenation and improving lymphatic drainage to smooth cellulite.
This 100 percent non-invasive procedure tackles the underlying cause of cellulite dimples below the skin (rather than just the surface) via a so-called compressive microvibration method, which involves a roller device containing 55 silicon spheres that generate low-frequency mechanical vibrations. Pressure is a key component of the treatment, which helps to eliminate toxins and activate the lymphatic system. Together, the combination equates to longer-lasting smoothness.
But it's not just microvibration that targets cellulite. The technology simultaneously addresses organ function to treat the root cause of the issue. According to the company, a clinical observation of 656 patients improved cellulite by 39 percent – though there is a time commitment involved. One dozen 45-minute treatments are recommended to get smoother, dimple-free skin.
4. For a Snatched Jawline
- The Treatment: MyEllevate®
- The Technology: ICLED® Surgical Suture System
- Best For: Defining & enhancing the jawline
How It Works: If a tauter neck and jawline are what you're after, then MyEllevate® – a minimally invasive treatment that targets a poorly defined jaw due to sagging skin and tissue – may be for you. Created by board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Gregory Mueller, MD, the hour-long procedure is different from other non-surgical under-the-chin solutions because it targets more than fat. Instead, MyEllevate® addresses platysmal banding and all of the fat under the chin (not a portion).
Historically, plastic surgeons have to ‘open the neck’ to address the bands surgically, says Olivia MaDan, MD, a board eligible plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Nashville. “With MyEllevate®, these bands can be released or cut without opening the neck since we suspend the skin and muscle as a composite around the mastoid fascia behind the ears,” she explains. While the treatment may sound somewhat similar to a mini-facelift, it's not. Unlike a mini-facelift or any variation, MyEllevate® – which is best for patients in their forties with visible platysmal banding and skin laxity around the neck and jawline – does not require incisions or cuts on the skin, so there's no scarring.
A fiber optic illuminated blunt probe is used via a small entry and exit point to pass a permanent suture at the precise depth below the skin to restore a youthful jawline and lower face and improve the profile. “This technology allows for the permanent percutaneous placement of sutures using a light guide to transilluminate beneath the skin,” Dr. MaDan explains. “The color of the light-guide shows the surgeon the plane which the suture passes.” For example, red indicates if the suture is too deep, while amber specifies that the sutures are in the correct placement plane.
Local anesthesia is administered before the treatment to make it as comfortable as possible for the patient. “Eight one-millimeter incisions are made at key points through which the suspension suture passes to address the skin and platysma muscle," Dr. MaDan shares. “However, none of the access incisions require a closure, so there is normal scarring after the procedure just like other minimally invasive procedures like liposuction or skin tightening.” Speaking of lipo, it’s used to remove unwanted fat and facilitate suture placement. “It's much like drawing blood, which requires a small poke but not an incision,” says Philip J. Miller, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in NYC.
After the procedure, there may be a feeling of tightness around the neck that settles over time. “There is also a compressive dressing we apply after the procedure, and we request patients to wear a soft cervical collar to dissuade them from looking down,” Dr. Miller says. “The dressing is removed on day three and the collar after 10 days.” Bruising and swelling are also typical.
As far as maintenance goes, it's pretty much the same guidelines as most other rejuvenation procedures: take good care of the skin, stay out of the sun, maintain a healthy weight, and refrain from stretching the skin. “Supplementing the original MyEllevate® procedure with a skin-tightening procedure can also prolong the results,” Dr. Miller shares. The results from MyEllevate® should last about five years. “Of course, no procedure can stop natural aging and effects of gravity, and this procedure does not exclude someone from needing a facelift or neck lift in the future,” Dr. MaDan says.
5. For Breaking Up With Your Breakouts
- The Treatment: Plason
- The Technology: Plasma energy & ultrasound
- Best For: Treating acne-prone & oily skin
How It Works: We haven't seen a new in-office device that treats acne in a minute, so this one brings lots of excitement. Plason by Artemis is an FDA-registered device that relies on an advanced version of plasma technology to combat breakouts.
Plason sterilizes the skin to eliminate acne-causing bacteria and germs while stimulating the skin's collagen-producing capabilities for firmer, clearer skin. It uses two different technologies – one is plasma energy (atmospheric low-temperature plasma) and the other is ultrasound technology, says Delaney Allen-Mills, director of partner training and quality at Artemis Distribution. “The real differentiation is the plasma,” she says. The device harvests plasma and then releases plasma radicals and ions into the skin, which attach to bacteria to kill it and create cleaner skin.
The quick five-minute, downtime-free treatment is most effective on acne-prone skin and requires a series of treatments. It is also ideal for oily skin types who want less oil production and fewer breakouts. One to two treatments (on average) is all it takes to improve the skin.
The treatment also significantly increases skin absorption rate, so you'll absorb 60 to 120 times more transdermal product to the depth of the dermis than you would from topical application alone, Allen-Mills says. Plus, it's safe to use Plason in conjunction with oral medications. While acne is the device's primary target, the treatment is also helpful for wrinkles, scars, and pigmentation.
6. For Removing Loose Skin – Sans Surgery
- The Treatment: Ellacor™
- The Technology: Micro-coring
- Best For: Minor skin laxity in the lower face
How It Works: Yes, it is now possible to remove unwanted skin sans surgery. The Ellacor™ procedure uses the proprietary technology of micro-coring to remove loose skin via hollow needles to improve wrinkles without evidence of scarring and with faster healing time than many energy-based treatments, says Siamak Agha, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Newport Beach, CA.
While micro-coring sounds like it could produce results similar to a facelift, Dr. Agha says that what you'll see afterward is much subtler. “Each session (three in total are needed) removes a small amount of skin – about eight percent,” he explains. “So, even though we are removing less skin than a facelift, that skin removal can be increased substantially without any scars.” Additionally, micro-coring doesn't address the underlying muscles or fat like a surgical facelift.
To date, the procedure has not been validated on darker skin types. It is currently only FDA cleared for patients who have minimal sagging and are Fitzpatrick skin types I to IV. “Ellacor™ is designed for smaller areas of skin removal,” Dr. Agha shares. “But, with more research and development, we may extend this technology to larger areas in the future.”
7. For a Brighter, Tighter Face & Body
- The Treatment: Zaffiro
- The Technology: Hydroexfoliation & near-infrared thermo-lifting
- Best For: Improving skin texture & firmness
How It Works: Energy-based tightening is nothing new and neither is the widely beloved HydraFacial®. But a device that combines the technology of near-infrared (NIR) energy and hydroexfoliation into a single treatment is one for the books. Enter Zaffiro, which is a the first of its kind to incorporate thermal energy for skin tightening with hydroexfoliation (a.k.a. water peeling). “The hydro technology hydrates and exfoliates to blast the skin and give it a luminosity that improves tone and texture, which my patients love — they say their skin feels more rejuvenated from using it,” says Jeanine Downie, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Montclair, NJ. “And near-infrared technology helps for skin tightening.” Suitable for all skin tones and types, a single session of Zaffiro is relatively comfortable and not too hot.
One of the most effective areas to treat with Zaffiro are the tiny lines around the mouth that appear when smiling and smokers' lines. But providers are already finding additional benefits. “Although I tend to use it more on the face, it can also be used off the face,” Dr. Downie says. This includes on the “soft part of the underarms” and for “tightening on the stomach, thighs, above the knees,” she notes. On the face, a series of four treatments are necessary for optimal results. Six sessions are recommended for the body, with regular maintenance for each.
By delivering a steady dose of gradual heating to the deeper layers of skin, the downtime-free treatment works to thicken collagen fibers, which encourages a tightening and lifting effect while improving skin elasticity and texture. In addition, dead skin cells are instantly removed for better penetration of topical ingredients, providing an immediate improvement in skin texture, clarity, hydration, and glow.
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