Sitting on the shelves of many pharmacies, you’ll find non- prescription electrical devices known as “facial stimulators.” They are marketed as the next “miracle” non- surgical face-lift solutions. That claim sounds a trifle dubious to begin with, and now a study done on two of these products has found that they fall quite short of what they actually claim to do. You can consider this short story to be a “market watch” of sorts.
A facial stimulator is yet another type of product that claims to prevent your skin from aging. But instead of a nutrient-based cream you rub on your skin a couple of times a day, this one channels electricity into the muscles of your face. It runs off a battery. By stimulating certain areas of the skin, the device claims to firm up the face and morph it into one that looks decades younger.
As an alternative to invasive cosmetic surgery, this device may sound pretty appealing to a lot of people. But, unfortunately, many questions remain as to the validity of their claims — which don’t have to be proven effective before they reach the shelves (unlike pharmaceuticals).
Biologically, researchers say, it’s hard to see how this is possible. And their study seems to back that thought up. They took 10 adults who used one of the devices for four straight months. One of them was a handheld electrical stimulator that you press to certain points on your face. The other device was a mask that you wear, with the stimulation points already built in to deliver the minor shocks.
The researchers included a couple of professional plastic surgeons who judged the participants’ before-and-after photos, looking at signs of aging such as crow’s feet. (The surgeons were not told who received which treatment.)
he study, printed recently in the journal Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, concluded that the people had no major improvements in their appearance after four months. “Minimally effective” was how the researchers put it. They Didn’t need the surgeons to say so — the participants themselves were not able to see significant changes.
At first, some of the people thought that they saw an overall improvement in their appearance, but when asked what had specifically improved, they were unable to give any firm answers. This is a key sign of the “placebo effect” where people want to believe a treatment has worked, and their mind thinks it has, even though their perceptions are false.
The study proves that these facial stimulators are not on par with a surgical face-lift. Researchers did not reveal what devices they used, so although you are free to use any of them, you should still remain skeptical of any anti-aging claims they make.