I’m a 32 year old female from New Jersey and have been distraught by my skin quality for years. I have acne scarring, large pores, and fine lines (the wrinkles are newer, but still upsetting) and had been searching for something that would help me love my skin, or at the very least tolerate it more without makeup or worrying about light angles in photos. After several rounds of chemical peels, both superficial and medium depths, I still hadn’t reached a point I was happy, so my provider informed me that I could look into a newer technology called INTRAcel, which is a radiofrequency microneedling device (or rf microneedling). I was considering thermage or Botox, or even laser treatment, but this was something new and something I never heard of. But I’ll get back to my experience after I go over the information I found before even deciding I wanted to go through with the procedure.
What is INTRAcel and what does it treat:
Key Points (according to Perigee, the distributors of the machine):
- Microneedles precisely deliver radiofrequency energy to a specific area painlessly
- Safe in all skin types (lighter to darker skin types)
- 2 hours or less of downtime from looking red/inflamed to normal
- Treats a very large number of skin concerns with high satisfaction
I did some research and found that the treatment must have first came onto the scene in the UK, because a majority of the experiences and instructional videos I found on YouTube were with doctors who had British accents. I found that the microneedling technology was only recently approved in the U.S. in July 2016 by the FDA and it was originally created by Jeisys Medical, Inc. based in Seoul, South Korea. However, the device has been used around the world for more than a decade.
The videos showed a handheld device that is attached to a big rolling machine with a touch screen. The device has an attachment for the sterile needles – there are 49 needles in one tip – ouch! Each tip is changed for each patient and can handle multiple passes over a large surface area without dulling – this special tip technology (what they called Insulated RF microneedle) sounds to be a big part of why the machine works so well – that and the ability to do different types of rf energy (something called monopolar and bipolar, which is beyond my understanding). The tip is able to avoid hitting the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) with the thermal energy or RF and go directly into the dermis. The dermis is the area of the skin where we have the most damage/area for correction that actually works on all of the areas the company claims to treat. The tech makes sense theoretically, but I still needed more convincing.
While researching when this supposedly ‘revolutionary’ procedure came out and where it came from, I came across a site that references a few doctors that were familiar with the machine. Every doctor refers to the device as being easy to use, safe on all types of patients, and as Nick Lowe, M.D. (dermatologist from London, England) said, “Compared to other devices on the market, INTRAcel stands alone.” Pretty strong words from a doctor who dedicated his career to treating skin issues.
(site and quote reference: https://perigee.com/perigee-introduces-the-new-jeisys-intracel-rf-microneedling-system-to-the-u-s-market/)
INTRAcel treats signs of aging skin (like wrinkles, fine lines, and skin laxity), as well as acne and acne scars. It even helps treat stretch marks, traumatic or surgical scars, and large pore size! It can apparently treat almost any body area, but most often is used to treat the face, jawline, neck, and chest.
Some people shouldn’t have this procedure done: people who have any device that helps them regulate their heart beat (like a pacemaker and/or implanted defibrillator) or someone with an irregular heartbeat, have a bleeding disorder, are pregnant, or have a skin cancer or skin infection.
The list of side effects can sound daunting, but they are probably less scary than lasers in my opinion. Common side effects are pinpoint bleeding, swelling, pain, hyperpigmentation, milia, folliculitis, and bruising. Serious side effects include skin infection, keloids, and scarring.
My Experience continued…
After deciding that I wanted to go through with the treatment when all my due diligence/research had been completed, I met with the provider and discussed cost. She advised me that it would be anywhere from $400-800 per session depending on the surface area I wanted to focus on for my face. She said I would likely have to undergo 2-4 sessions depending on my progress and the depth of the damage she was trying to correct.
I was topically numbed with an ointment-like paste for about 45 min in their comfortable “numbing” area that was like being at a spa with a mask on while reading a mindless magazine. Before I knew it, we were ready to go and I was handed a legal consent to sign about the risks and side effects (to which I was already aware).
I laid down on the exam chair with a floppy metal-looking pad that was meant to touch my back as a “grounding pad”, she wiped away the numbing gel and then applied a cleansing topical material to my face. I decided to treat my entire face because I was confident in my research. A few blips of noise from the machine later and she got started. She put the machine against my face and I felt a pounding of the machine firing the needles into my face – the first time came as a shock but wasn’t painful, but then she got into a rhythm and I was fine. She went over each area of my face separately and passed over the areas twice. I felt a slight burning sensation and the pounding of the needles, but that was about it – I couldn’t even say it was “pain” persay, that I was feeling.
About 20 minutes later we were done and my face was bright red everywhere she put the device. She reassured me that it would subside in a couple of hours and to make sure to keep my skin protected with 30 SPF sunblock, moisturize constantly, and keep my skin clean without using any exfoliators.
I drove myself home, shielding my face from other drivers and from the pedestrians on the street, but made it to my door without a problem. I went about my day, doing work from home and taking care of chores. For a moment, I forgot why my skin was dry, and then when I went to moisturize my face more in my bathroom, I saw the redness was already starting to go away – it was about 4 hours from the time I had the procedure done.
The next day I woke up with a little swelling – my face seemed and felt swollen when I looked in the mirror, but I definitely didn’t feel alarmed by what I saw. The week went by and I swear I looked as though my skin had an overall better texture. Unlike a chemical peel, I had no new issues arising or skin falling off my face and I could see the results gradually after only a few days.
I couldn’t wait for my next follow-up a month later and the month after that. The results continued to pile up and my skin was transforming into skin that I was growing to love.