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Tightening your facial skin without plastic surgery

If it’s true that we humans love beauty, then it’s also true that we like nothing more than a magic potion promising to achieve it. There’s a lot of us out there who want to look younger but balk at the idea of cosmetic surgery, and marketers and advertisers know it. 

Botox (neurotoxins), lasers, PDO threads, radiofrequency, and fillers all purport to offer rejuvenation with minimal downtime, and to a degree they can often deliver, provided that your expectations are in check with what they can do. 

Non-surgical cosmetic treatments promise noticeable results at a low risk, but can they deliver?

But it seems like every few years there’s a brand-new technology promising to tighten or rejuvenate the skin without surgery. They carefully allude to the idea of a ‘non-surgical facelift’ without actually saying it. 

We should probably have an honest conversation about the limits of non-invasive procedures. At this point in time, a non-surgical procedure just can’t compete with a surgical facelift. And we also want to dissuade you from the notion that non-invasive procedures carry no risks. As a rule, any procedure that promises visible results carries some risk. Often, more risk means more gains. Keeping that at the forefront of your mind anytime you’re considering a non-invasive or surgical procedure will help protect you, your expectations, and importantly, your pocketbook. 

Let’s look at the new non-invasive technology called Micro-Coring. 

What is Micro-Coring?

Micro-Coring (MCT ellacor system by Cytrellis) is a non-surgical technique that promises to tighten your skin without surgery, downtime, or scarring. Note that they aren’t competing with a facelift. Micro-coring is specifically advertised as a solution for people wanting to address wrinkles and loose skin but are not interested in/ready for surgery. The high touted advantage is that it is not supposed to cause scarring or hyperpigmentation, but that may not be entirely true (more on that in a bit).

During a Micro-Coring session, hollow needles arranged in a densely packed grid remove micro-cores of skin.

During a Mirco-Coring session, patients are treated beforehand with a numbing agent (lidocaine and epinephrine) to ease pain and bleeding. 22- 25 gauge needles with a diameter of 0.5 mm arranged in a grid with a density of 10% (the percent of skin removed per 1 cm2 of skin) are inserted into the skin at a depth of 3 -5 mm (reaching down to the dermal layer). 6000 micro-cores of skin are removed per treatment in 30 minute sessions, and 3 procedures one month apart are recommended. The treated skin is rinsed with saline and Aquaphor is applied for 7 days afterwards. The treatment causes mild bleeding, but most people felt OK going out in public after 3 days (though others took longer)

Micro-Coring is designed to help with moderate to severe wrinkles of the mid to lower face, and acts by increasing collagen through creating controlled wounds (also what microneedling purports to do) and by decreasing the overall surface area (because of the excisions), all without scarring or downtime. The small 0.5 mm cores are supposed to reduce the chance of scarring, but it’s getting close to the diameter of a FUE hair transplant unit (1 – 0.8 mm), and those definitely leave a small circular scar so the potential could be there. 

This procedure is not recommended for everyone. Candidates need to fall within the 1 to 4 Fitzpatrick skin tone range and should be over the age of 22. It’s also not for people with active acne, dermatosis, experiencing autoimmune conditions on the skin, or with other active inflammatory lesions. Areas that have been treated with silicone (or other synthetic materials) have surgical scars less than 12 months old, have undergone injections of filler, fat, or Botox, or any other minimally invasive/non-invasive skin treatment in the last 6 months are contraindicated. Patients being treated with oral tretinoin (Accutane) should also avoid Micro-Coring (and microneedling) for 6 months after treatment ends. 

Risks of Micro-Coring treatment include redness, swelling, bruising, burning, drying, tightness, crusting, pain, tingling, bleeding, numbness, skin peeling, circular marks on the skin, and, as with any treatment that punctures the skin, there is always a small risk of infection. 

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This sounds an awful lot like microneedling…

It does, doesn’t it? The difference is that microneedling doesn’t remove skin and Micro-Coring does, though both procedures have the aim and end point of causing some bleeding and increasing collagen through creating controlled wounds.

But the real question is, does it work? 

What kind of results can you expect from non-surgical treatments?

Is Micro-Coring a magic bullet for your anti-aging concerns or a bag of magic beans? 

First off, let’s take a look at aging. The biggest culprit of aging is the sun. Multiple rays from the sun damage skin, depleting collagen, resulting in skin aging. Increasing collagen production in the skin, which Micro-Coring can do, in theory helps to counteract the aging depletion of collagen. Overall patient satisfaction with the procedure was 85.6% so most people who underwent the procedure in the product study reported being happy with their results. It’s safe, but there is a lot of operational risk dependent on the experience of the device operator as well as a risk of poor healing. Overlapping the cores could lead to scarring and the procedure is not recommended for Fitzpatrick skin types 5/6 due to a risk of scarring. 

The other issue is that the before and afters are not a slam dunk (See Dr. Linkov’s analysis of video at time stamp 4.03 minutes). The after photos only look slightly better, and the improvements could easily be attributed to make-up, photo angles, distance from camera, flash, etc. Though this technology might work to generate small improvements, the visible effect may not be significant enough to warrant the financial cost and risk (though it’s small) of complications. Remember, this procedure requires multiple treatments. 

Is it worth it?

It really comes down to a trade off between risk and reward. A lower risk almost always has less reward. Between your face and your pocketbook, procedures like this tend to tighten your pocketbook more noticeably. 

If you are looking for a non-surgical way to tighten skin and have reasonable expectations for what non-surgical procedures can do, Dr. Linkov feels that radiofrequency still offers better, more consistent results. 

It is time for us to have a discussion on what a reasonable expectation is for non-invasive procedures and have an honest discussion about costs and risks of maintaining those results. 

Until next time, if you’d like to support us and discover products that really do work supported by peer-reviewed research, then visit us at feel confident.  

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Written by

Kristi Charish

Edited by

Dr. Gary Linkov

The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.

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