What Are the Microcurrent Therapy Side Effects and Benefits?

If you’re looking for a complete guide to everything you need to know about microcurrent therapy, you’re in the right place!

Below, I’ll go over how the skin-tightening procedure works, what to expect during a therapy session, and – perhaps most important- what side effects you’ll want to prepare yourself for.

By the time we’re done, you’ll have no problem making an informed decision about whether this is the right treatment for your skincare needs.

We have SO much to cover together, so let’s just jump in, starting with an overview of what microcurrent therapy actually is.

What Is Microcurrent Therapy? 

A lady recieving microcurrent therapy treatment

Short answer: microcurrent therapy is a procedure that uses a professional microcurrent facial machine to “train” your facial muscles to become tighter and flexible.

As licensed aesthetician Graceanne Svendsen, LE, CME told Healthline, “Microcurrent machines in facial aesthetic applications are used to ‘work out’ the muscles of the face, stimulate collagen, and tighten skin appearance. “ [1,2]

It’s no secret that everybody wants younger-looking skin.

At the same time, no one wants to deal with painful procedures that include warnings like nausea, drooling, headaches… and in extremely rare cases, respiratory failure [3].

Botox, I’m looking at you! Okay, so honestly, botox is actually considered pretty safe…but given the choice between that and an even safer option, which would you choose?

Billion-dollar skincare industries already know the answer to that, so they’ve worked relentlessly to come up with solutions.

Among those solutions, microcurrent therapy has proved to be one such technological advancement that endorses non-invasive and injection-free techniques, which I’m pretty thankful for.  

Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

How Does Microcurrent Therapy Work? 

For a machine with so many moving parts, microcurrent therapy works in a pretty straightforward way.

Low-voltage electric currents are applied to the skin. In return, this stimulates the production of energy in the form of ATP (the energy source behind all of your muscle movements) [4].

This ATP further facilitates the production of Collagen and Elastin. 

As I’m sure you know, collagen is a protein that prevents the aging skin from sagging or developing wrinkles on the skin [5]. Sounds awesome, right?

Elastin is another protein that helps to keep the cell structure intact and, at the same time, flexible.

To put all of that into perspective, actress Jennifer Aniston once called it “a little workout for your face.”[6]

Below is a great video explanation:

How to Use a Microcurrent Therapy Device

A picture showing microcurrent therapy machine

Almost all of these devices come with a similar design. The microcurrent therapy device that I’m currently using consists of two metalheads that are responsible to stimulate your facial muscle tone.

There is a standard power button. All I need to do is press this button and it will begin the action.

Additionally, you can also find an increase and decrease button that can be used to regulate the intensity of the action as per the convenience of the user. 

Make sure that you clean your face with your regular face wash products. Once your face is dry, apply an appropriate amount of gel onto your face.

The gel acts as a conducting layer for the electric current to do its work. 

Once the therapy is done, which normally takes about one hour from your day, wash and rinse off the gel with gentle hands.

There’s really no “downtime” after a procedure, so you can go about your normal life afterward.

I do highly recommend you not to scrub the surface of your face too harshly since it has recently undergone treatment and can be a little too sensitive than usual. I learned this the hard way!

Once your face is completely dry again, follow your normal everyday routine of moisturizing your face.

To see an actual demo, check out this great video:

READ MORE: What Are the Muscles of the Face and Their Functions?

What Are the Benefits of a Microcurrent Facial?

Now that we have a pretty good understanding of how it works, let’s go over some of the benefits.

Toned And Tightened Skin 

Did you know that microcurrent therapy was actually designed decades ago to help people suffering from Bells Palsy (a form of facial paralysis that affects one side of your face)? [7]

So, it makes sense that one of the most effective and noticeable changes will be the tightening of your skin.

In fact, this is an indicator the therapy is working and there has been an elevated production of collagen and elastin. 

Disappearance Of Wrinkles And Face Lines

A lady showing how to use microcurrent therapy machine

We talked about how everyone wants to look younger. Well, that’s one of the main benefits of microcurrent therapy!

Here’s the thing, though, it doesn’t provide instant results.

For me personally, it took a few rounds of the treatment to really notice a difference in my fine lines.

You have to be patient and trust the process because at least in my experience, it does work.

One important note: If you are using a microcurrent device yourself (versus having an expert do it, which I recommend instead), don’t be tempted to turn up the “juice” to make it work faster.

Start with the lowest intensity and then work your way up from there.

This way not only your skin gets gradually comfortable with the new process, but you can also damage control if there occurs even the slightest discomfort. 

Better Blood Circulation

Whenever our skin is treated with something new, the blood circulation increases. With microcurrent therapy, it is all the more true [8].

Blood brings with it all the good nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells. Nutrients and oxygen rejuvenate the skin and the immune cells help in encircling and discarding off cell debris.

With increased production of collagen, cells that have undergone oxidative stress will be anyway discarded away, paving the way for fresh-looking skin. 

Watch this video for more benefits:

What Are The Side Effects of Microcurrent Therapy? 

Side effects of microcurrent therapy are pretty mild, ranging from “feeling a bit off” to fatigue to occasional nausea. Let’s take a closer look.

Feeling A Little Different

This one is really hard to explain since it’s totally subjective (depends entirely on you). But it’s not uncommon to feel a little “off” after a microcurrent therapy procedure.

The therapy changes your muscle tone as well as softens scar tissue and since the blood circulation around the face increases, your face temperature might feel a tad bit higher than normal. 

To me, it felt like my face had just done an hour of hardcore cardio. Kind of like how your legs feel after a run. Not bad, just…different.

Nausea And Fatigue 

While some experts say that there are literally no side effects to microcurrent therapy, it is, however, true that some patients actually feel nauseous, tired, and just plain “spent” after the procedure is done.

Again, it really depends on you. Sometimes, I get really worked up and worried that I’m going to have some sort of “never been reported” side effect. I literally make myself sick.

So, it’s really hard to say whether the treatment causes nausea in these rare cases or whether it’s related more to anxiety.

Bottom line, microcurrent therapy is still the safest and easiest way to get youthful skin.

There have been no reports or complaints regarding the long-term effects of this procedure. The above-mentioned side effects occur during or soon after the session is done. It can last as long as 24 hours. 

Check: NuFace Body Before and After Results

Is Microcurrent Therapy Safe for Everyone?

Microcurrent therapy is safe for almost everyone. Nothing on this planet is safe for 100% of the population.

One of the features that best projects this is the fact that microcurrent therapy is totally inject-free and non-invasive. This means that there is no chemical interference directly with your face. 

However, it can be contraindicated in some people (meaning, not recommended).

First, no one has studied just how safe it is for pregnant or breastfeeding women, so I’d avoid it if you’re preggos or nursing your baby.

Second, as Dr. Svendsen told Healthline, people who’ve had a lot of Botox injections shouldn’t bother, since the neurotoxin “freezes” the muscles.

In other words, it really just won’t do much, if anything.

How Much Does Microcurrent Therapy Cost?

An esthetician performing microcurrent facial therapy on a lady

Microcurrent therapy costs anywhere between 250 to 500 US dollars, based on the location of your city [2].

In addition to this, many aestheticians consider microcurrent therapy as a part of a larger package deal.

Other treatments that may be included in such a package could be cleaning, hydrating, etc. Therefore, the total cost will be much higher than just 500 dollars. 

If you have your own personal microcurrent device, it is important for you to understand that these devices are not as effective as the ones that the professionals use.

Therefore, it is important to manage your expectations according to the level of expertise you have opted for. 

FAQs

How long does a microcurrent facial last?

expert giving the patient a microcurrent therapy

A microcurrent facial usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. 

Does microcurrent therapy help inflammation?

Yes, microcurrent therapy helps inflammation as well as aids in speedy recovery and alleviates pain. 

Can microcurrent hurt your eyes?

Microcurrent therapy should not ideally hurt the eyes when executed properly. There is no complaint regarding visual impairment whatsoever. However, a high-intensity microcurrent may cause twitching of the eyes. 

Conclusion

Now that I have completed my part of showing you the pros and cons of microcurrent therapy, it is your turn to judge if you should undertake such a therapy or not.

I highly recommend that you talk to your doctor or dermatologist to find out if it’s really right for you.

References

  • 1. (2016) Plastic Surgeon New York City | Cosmetic Surgery Doctor Manhattan, NYC. In: Shaferplasticsurgery.com. https://www.shaferplasticsurgery.com/plastic-surgeon-new-york-city/.
  • 2. 0 (2019) Is This 5-min Microcurrent Facial Better than Botox? In: Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/microcurrent-facial#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1.
  • 3. (2021) Botox injections – Mayo Clinic. In: Mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/botox/about/pac-20384658.
  • 4. Dunn J, Grider MH (2021) Physiology, Adenosine Triphosphate. In: Nih.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553175/.
  • 5. (2021) Collagen. In: The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/.
  • 6. Synnott A (2016) Jennifer Aniston’s Best Kept Anti-Aging Secrets. In: InStyle. https://www.instyle.com/beauty/skin/jennifer-aniston-skincare-skin-tips-secrets-interview
  • 7. Shrode LW (2014) Treatment of facial muscles affected by Bell’s palsy with high-voltage electrical muscle stimulation. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 16:
  • 8. Madigan-Fleck E (2014) The Physiological Effects of Microcurrent. In: Dermascope.com. https://www.dermascope.com/treatments/the-physiological-effects-of-microcurrent.
A lady receiving microcurrent therapy treatment

Have you tried this treatment? Is there any microcurrent therapy side effects you have encountered? Please let us know in the comments below!

About Olaf Bieschke

Olaf Bieschke is a senior year medical student from Charité University of Berlin in Germany. He has gained professional experience in various hospitals and offices in Germany, Belgium, France, Poland, Brazil and Spain. Currently working on a dr. med. title thesis in neurosurgery. Follow him on LINKEDIN AND FACEBOOK. Learn more about him HERE.

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