Intracel Helped Improve 2 Deep Atrophic Scars On My Face
Procedure specific satisfaction rating
About 4 months after I suffered from a bacterial infection on my face, I was left with blemishes I never thought I'd have to deal with. The infection created abscesses and left behind two distinct, dug-out or "atrophic" scars on my cheek. Going into the consult at Image Dermatology (I.D.), located in Montclair, NJ, I thought they would only divulge some strand of Botox or a dermal filler to fill in the scars as a solution. This was an ill-conceived premonition. I was pleasantly surprised there was something newer and more promising. After the consultation at I.D., I was happy to hear there was something I could finally do about them. The life-changing procedure was called “Intracel.” After having several sessions of Intracel, I felt an overwhelming urge to share my experience due to the beautiful results.
I went to the office for the first time and had a visit with Megan Kera, the Physician Assistant working with Dr. Jeanine Downie. I was brought into the exam room and had photos taken by their medical assistant. I waited with nervous excitement to see what she would say about my concern. I told her the story about how I obtained the infection, the process of how I was treated, and ultimately that without any other acne scarring on my face, these two blemishes had a major impact on my appearance. She agreed that my skin quality was otherwise next-to-flawless, but the two marks above my jawline were upsetting.
She continued to exam the two areas, advised me that the scars I had were called "atrophic" scars. These scars are similar the kind to the ones left behind by chicken pox. She reviewed a few options of treatment plans with me, ranging from peels to Fraxel laser to retinol skin treatments, but the most surprising was Intracel. I never heard of it before. Megan explained that it is a radiofrequency microneedling device that looks a lot like a laser. The tip of the device has tiny needles (almost 50 needles - yikes) covered with some sort of silicone that only allow the tip of the needle to emit the radiofrequency energy. Because of this covering, she said, the energy would only impact the dermal layer of my skin, which is where the scarring process was most prominent and causing the puckered appearance seen on the outside. In other words, the needles would not cause my skin to be impacted by the heat energy...only the skin texture below would be affected (which she said also meant it could be used on all skin types from light to dark skin tones). I think she could see I was most interested in learning more about the procedure and wasn't afraid of the idea of needles. Noticing my inquisitive look, she continued to talk about the process.
On the touch screen hung up in the room, she showed me before and after photos of patients who had the procedure done. There were pictures of skin rejuvenation where fine lines and wrinkles were diminished, photos of jawline skin tightening, severe acne scarring and large pores being improved, stretch marks fading, and raised up scars flattening and fading from plastic surgery. I asked about the pricing, which she said was $150 per treatment session, but would require multiple sessions that she couldn't make any specific guarantees on. An estimation of 2-6 separate sessions complete monthly would be needed for me. Megan said that since these were two finite areas of treatment the cost would be lower than treating someone's entire face or half of their face, and the procedure itself would take only a few minutes. (Thank you for this cost effectiveness!) She told me that numbing the area could be done two ways: injection with a numbing agent or topical numbing paste that would be applied about 30 minutes before the procedure. I told her I wasn't afraid of the procedure with almost 50 needles, so I could easily handle the couple of injections of numbing to make the treatment sessions quicker.
I asked Megan about side effects since I hadn't researched it at all, nor did I even know the procedure even existed until about 5 minutes ago. She said that some people, especially with topical numbing agents, can still feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. There was also a risk of pinpoint bleeding, which was obvious to me because needles are involved. She also said that the studies showed a risk of milia, which are small white pimple-like marks, swelling, redness, and skin infections. When she said skin infections I panicked because of how I originally got into this whole mess, but she assured me she would take every precaution possible to prevent that from happening. If I needed, she could give me a topical antibiotic. She asked if I had any bleeding disorders (because you don't want to keep bleeding after the procedure and not be able to stop) or surgeries in the past because there is a small risk of keloid scarring. Thankfully I had no issues with those types of scars as far as I knew.
I decided I wanted to schedule the procedure with Megan, all while deciding I was still going to do some research at home and see if there was any blaring reason as to why I shouldn't move forward with it. Truthfully, I was having trouble coming up with any reasons why I shouldn't.
Keeping my appointment after doing a little research on my own, the day of the procedure was thrusted upon me. I was taken into the room that had the Intracel machine in it and the medical assistant set everything up. They had me sign some paperwork about the risks of the Intracel treatment before I could continue. As I skimmed it over, I was still sure about my decision and signed the paperwork. Megan came in and she went over the process again, asked if I had any questions, and we got started.
First she numbed me with the injection which wasn't too painful - I've definitely been through worse. She turned on the machine with a few pings on the touch screen and then we got started. Megan wiped down my face again with an antiseptic and then pressed the piece against the first scar. She asked again if I was ready. With a stentorian “yes,” the machine clicked and stuck me. She made sure I was ok, changed the positioning of the piece, then fired again, and again one more time. She wiped my face a couple of times, because I was bleeding a little. Megan continued by asking if I was ready for the second scar. Agreeing, she then pressed the piece against the second scar and fired away in three or four more positions over the scar. Other than a rare prickling sensation, the procedure was painless after being numbed. I was a little red/pink and swollen in the areas she treated. When I looked in the mirror, which she assured me would subside over the next couple of hours. She advised me afterwards to wear plenty of moisturizer and sunblock over the areas, and with no questions I was on my way out the door anticipating results.
I had three more treatment sessions about a month apart and after the 3rd and the final sessions we compared photos from the first visit. I had a slight issue with my skin tone changing a bit over the scars that was corrected when I used a bleaching cream.
There was a visible difference that I could see at home, but even more so when the photos of before and after were put side by side at the office. The two divots in my cheek were practically gone, and no longer a huge flaw on my otherwise great skin.