The Truth About J-Plasma: Learn About This Trendy Facelift Alternative
- This new procedure uses ionized gas instead of light to resurface the face.
- Marketed as an alternative to the facelift, J-Plasma is said to have skin tightening results like no other non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedure.
- J-Plasma is so new that much research still needs to be done regarding its effectiveness and potential complications.
Facial rejuvenation is about one thing: looking younger. It promises to erase the lines, wrinkles, and spots borne from age, sun damage, stress, and sleeplessness. That much, at least, people can agree on. The challenge is in knowing which facial rejuvenation procedure is the best.
Facial rejuvenation procedures can be invasive or noninvasive. They can involve lasers, lights, chemicals, and surgical incisions. They can take days or weeks to heal. Finally, they can sometimes leave you wondering if you made the right decision.
If you’re among the many individuals looking for the right procedure to erase your acne scars or smooth over those crow’s feet, then you’ve probably come across J-Plasma. This unique technology promises dramatic results with no surgery and minimal side effects.
To hear plastic surgeons tell it, this new technique will soon replace laser skin resurfacing as the gold standard in non-invasive facial rejuvenation. However, it may be wise to take some of this praise well-salted. Being such new technology, there is no readily available formal research assessing the long-term efficacy of the treatment.
In this article we will unpack this new take on plasma resurfacing technology and place it in context among its industry peers.
Before we go too in-depth about how this technology works, let’s review some terms. If you’re looking into J-Plasma as a potential treatment, you may have come across something called J-Plasty or J-Plazty. For all intents and purposes, these are the same thing.
J-Plasty or J-Plazty treatments use the J-Plasma device for facial rejuvenation. Some doctors may use slightly different terms or package different procedures together under an umbrella term. We are only concerned with the J-Plasma device used in these treatments, how it works, and what effects it has on your skin.
You may also have come across plasma skin resurfacing (PSR). J-Plasma is one tool for conducting plasma skin resurfacing. However, it’s not the only one. The Portrait PSR device uses nitrogen gas-based plasma to achieve similar results.
Some research exists to support the effectiveness of plasma technology using the Portrait device, supporting the idea that J-Plasma could be effective as well. However, the devices are fundamentally different and J-Plasma has yet to be thoroughly vetted by scientific research.
How J-Plasma Works
The operative term in J-Plasma is “plasma.” We are not talking about that clear liquid found in blood or some other bodily fluids. We are talking about ionized gas that is extremely electrically conductive. Plasma is often termed the “fourth state of matter,” apart from solids, liquids, and other gases.
The J-Plasma device starts with helium gas and uses radio frequency (RF) energy to ionize it, turning it into cold helium plasma. The cold plasma erupts from the device in a stream as the device is applied to the skin. The J-Plasma device can be used subdermally or over the skin.
When used over the skin, the device is passed over the surface of the skin. Changes to the skin are immediate and clearly visible. This method creates a mask of skin that is then wiped away, reportedly revealing younger looking skin underneath. Some clinics will do a second pass with the device, tightening skin as they go.
When used subdermally, the J-Plasma device is inserted under the skin via small incisions. The ionized gas is injected beneath the skin, firming up the skin instantly. This method is more commonly done on the body as an alternative to liposuction.
Candidates for J-Plasma
Although it is often marketed as an alternative to facelifts, J-Plasma claims to do more than just tighten skin. Proponents of the J-Plasma procedure say it can resolve wrinkles, fine lines, and even irregular pigmentation, rivaling non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedures like laser resurfacing and intense pulsed light (IPL).
Cosmetic surgeons who administer the procedure identify good candidates as people with the aforementioned skin concerns who are looking for a dramatic transformation. J-Plasma is not always recommended as a spot treatment and is best used on the whole face and neck regions. That being said, some people do occasionally get J-Plasma spot treatments for specific concerns.
J-plasma is for people looking to invest in a serious treatment. The cost of a single treatment costs is in the order of $2000 dollars.
Side Effects and Recovery
J-Plasma is marketed under the idea that it comes with few side effects or potential complications. In fact, many cosmetic surgery facilities are so confident in the safety and effectiveness of the procedure that they don’t provide patients with much information concerning its downsides.
That being said, while J-Plasma is not a surgical procedure, it still comes with side effects, and it’s always important to enter into any procedure with a full understanding of what to expect.
J-Plasma is said to be relatively pain-free. However, patients do receive local anesthesia, sometimes accompanied by an oral sedative. Patients may experience mild discomfort during the procedure and in the coming hours after the anesthesia wears off. This also means that patients may be subject to the usual side effects associated with local anesthesia, including nausea, swelling, and redness.
Recovery time can be extensive. Exactly how long you need to wait before returning to work depends on the extent of your J-Plasma treatment. Different physicians have differing opinions on this as well. However, patients should typically expect to be resting at home for at least 10 days post-treatment.
During this time, they may experience crusting and peeling of their skin, as well as redness, itchiness, and mild swelling. Aftercare can be intense and many physicians recommend having help on hand for at least the first week.
After this time, patients can typically return to work and their other regular activities with the approval of their physician. Still, patients should expect some discomfort and continued recovery even after the 10-day mark has passed. Recovery takes roughly 2-3 weeks. Skin may continue to look red and makeup should be avoided for the entirety of this time unless a physician says otherwise.
Proponents of J-Plasma claim the results are instantaneous. And this is true — to an extent. Tightening effects are immediately visible, and the skin beneath the removed layer is noticeably smoother. However, this same skin is also red, swollen, and shiny, all of which contribute to this smooth appearance. In reality, it could take several months for the full effects of the treatment to become apparent and all the associated redness to completely disappear.
J-Plasma Pros and Cons
Now that we have a thorough understanding of the procedure and recovery, it’s time to focus on the big question: is J-Plasma right for you? To do this, let’s start with a summary of J-Plasma pros and cons, so we can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of the practice and measure those against similar procedures.
- Non-surgical – Because J-Plasma is not a surgical procedure, it avoids complications and pain often associated with more invasive procedures. It also leaves no incision scars unless done subdermally. Even then, the incision marks are minimal.
- Dramatic results – Before and after photos show startling improvements. It appears that J-Plasma provides rather dramatic improvements in light of its non-surgical nature.
- Short procedure – J-Plasma is sometimes marketed as “the one hour facelift”. However, the procedure usually takes less than 45 minutes.
- One treatment only – J-Plasma typically only requires one treatment for full results, setting it apart from similar non-surgical alternatives. However, it’s not unheard of for people to have multiple plasma skin resurfacing treatments.
- Extensive recovery time – This is really the primary downside for the treatment. It claims to be a facelift without the surgery, but the extensive aftercare and recovery time rival that of a facelift.
- Long wait for results – Some J-Plasma results may be immediate, but full results take months to appear.
- Redness – Immediately after J-Plasma, you will see a great deal of redness, almost like a sunburn. This decreases over time, but a pinkish complexion may still be visible for months afterwards.
- Tightens, but only to a certain extent – J-Plasma may help you reduce wrinkles, but despite what proponents say, it is no facelift. Patients with substantial loose skin will see better results from a facelift.
When researching J-Plasma, it’s important to consider its pros and cons in context. For example, proponents might cite the use of local anesthesia as opposed to general anesthesia as a pro for the procedure. However, consider this detail in comparison to similar procedures. IPL photofacials typically require only topical anesthesia while facelifts can also be done using only local anesthesia.
» If you’re curious about J-Plasma and want to learn more about these pros and cons, consider asking a doctor on our forum.
J-Plasma vs. The Competition
In order to put some of the pros and cons in the proper context, we’ve compared J-Plasma with similar procedures. Note that there’s not going to be a clear winner. Every person’s individual needs are unique, and the right procedure for you won’t necessarily be the right one for someone else.
Let’s start here since J-Plasma is largely considered the surgery-free facelift. J-Plasma is non-surgical, which means it avoids complications associated with surgery, like infection and bleeding. It also combines skin tightening with resurfacing. In other words, a facelift will firm up your skin, but it won’t correct any blemishes.
On the other hand, a facelift has more skin tightening potential. As we already mentioned, individuals with significant amounts of loose or excess skin will see a greater improvement with a facelift than with J-Plasma. Individuals with less loose skin who are more concerned with fine lines and wrinkles may find the results of either procedure similar. A facelift also lifts and tightens the deeper supporting structures of the face. J-Plasma has no effect on any tissues deeper than the skin.
After a facelift, patients can resume normal activities in roughly 2 weeks. However, they will continue healing for up to or even exceeding a month. In some cases, patients experience swelling for close to a year.
J-Plasma works on a different timeline. Like a facelift, the bulk of the healing occurs in the first two weeks and it could take months for residual signs of the procedure (redness in the case of J-Plasma) to disappear. However, J-Plasma recovery is both less painful and intense.
Laser resurfacing comes in two main forms: erbium and CO2. These two types of laser treatments work in much the same way. However, erbium is less intense than CO2, making for a quicker recovery time and less pronounced results. As fractional CO2 lasers are currently considered the gold standard in laser resurfacing and most often compared to J-Plasma, we’ll focus on this method.
Like J-Plasma, fractional CO2 laser resurfacing treats fine lines, wrinkles, and some scars. Also like J-Plasma, recovery from CO2 laser resurfacing takes roughly 2 weeks and may be accompanied by swelling and redness. Even the lengths of the procedures themselves are comparable, with CO2 laser resurfacing lasting about half an hour. Finally, both J-Plasma and CO2 laser resurfacing promote collagen production and tighten loose skin.
What makes these procedures different? J-Plasma is said to be more precise, reducing the chances of damaging the surrounding tissue. In contrast, CO2 laser resurfacing can sometimes result in burns to adjacent tissue. J-Plasma is also said to have a shorter recovery time. However, the actual listed recovery time by most practicing physicians seems roughly on par with CO2 laser resurfacing.
Finally, most practicing physicians note that J-Plasma comes with fewer complications. However, it’s best to take this information with a grain of salt. Fractional CO2 resurfacing has been around a lot longer than J-Plasma facial rejuvenation. As such, there is a greater understanding of the long term effects and potential consequences associated with the procedure. Learn more about these effects and what others have experienced.
Like laser resurfacing, intense pulsed light (IPL) uses light to resurface the skin. However, this light is more diffuse and therefore less intense than that used in laser resurfacing. IPL facial treatments use this light to treat blemishes on the skin and stimulate collagen growth, just like the other two. It also lasts for roughly 30-45 minutes.
IPL photofacials are far less intense than J-Plasma (and laser resurfacing for that matter). These treatments come with less pain and a shorter recovery time. However, the results are also less pronounced. This is comparatively a very low impact facial rejuvenation procedure. It’s a great choice for people looking for something quick, simple, and less expensive.
Finally, IPL photofacials and LED facials can be used to target specific problems, as opposed to J-Plasma which is a one size fits all solution. Learn more about IPL photofacials and what they can do.
Chemical peels use caustic chemicals to exfoliate the skin and boost collagen production. These chemicals cause the outer layer of the skin to blister and peel, revealing smoother and younger looking skin underneath. This is very similar to how J-Plasma acts on the skin.
The recovery time is similar between the procedures. Chemical peels take about 2 weeks to heal, one week of which should be taken off of work. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of chemical peel. Chemical peels also treat many of the same things as J-Plasma, including acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles.
However, chemical peels won’t tighten the skin to the extent that J-Plasma promises. What’s more, chemical peels aren’t for everyone. People with certain skin conditions, like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema, are cautioned against using this treatment. Still, they are an effective treatment for people looking for a less dramatic change. They also very widely in cost, with the least expensive costing as little as a couple of hundred dollars.
» If you’re wondering if chemical peels are right for you, read more about them and the different available options.
Lastly, we come to microdermabrasion. This procedure involves an abrasive tool used to smooth out the skin like sandpaper on a piece of wood. It treats light scars, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and more. It also promises to exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and clearing out clogged pores.
Microdermabrasion is so low impact it can even be done at home using a microdermabrasion tool. These tools vary in quality and can cost anywhere from fifty to several thousands of dollars. There is no downtime following the procedure, however, the results are far less dramatic. Learn more about these tools and techniques to see how they measure up to J-Plasma.
Is J-Plasma the Right Choice?
With so many available options it can be difficult to decide on the right one. The real answer to this question is that it depends on your needs and price range. How much recovery time are you willing to live with? How much of a transformation are you looking for? How much can you afford?
It’s better to think of J-Plasma as an alternative to the facelift as opposed to an alternative to other non-surgical procedures. The downtime is substantial as is the price when compared with many of the aforementioned nonsurgical procedures. Not to mention, the results promise to be much more significant.
However, when measured against the facelift, J-Plasma is a far less expensive and invasive alternative with a more subtle yet ultimately effective result. It should be regarded as a good alternative for people looking for facelift results and willing to invest time and money in a serious change, but are nervous about going under the knife and having surgery done.
» Don’t take our word for it, however. Consult with a cosmetic doctor to better decide which facial rejuvenation treatment you should explore.
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