When I was 22, my "skin care routine" consisted of using a makeup remover wipe and splashing some water on my face before bed — and somehow, my complexion still looked great despite the neglect. But once fine lines and sun spots started popping up on my forehead in my early 30s, I knew it was high time to start giving my skin a little more TLC. Personally, I’m not down with the idea of Botox and other injectables (but you do you, boo). So, when I heard about Vivace RF Microneedling — a minimally invasive service that stimulates collagen production with zero downtime — I was instantly intrigued.
Olivia Culpo, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston are just a few celebs who swear by the treatment and their complexions are goals, so I’d call that a hard sell. With the new year approaching, I decided to kickstart my skin care resolutions by booking my first Vivace microneedling service at DermWellesley in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The goal? That one session could help to diminish some of those lines, fade the damage and discoloration from my regrettable days of sun-worshipping, and give me an overall smoother and more supple complexion. A tall order, I know.
According to Dr. Emily Wise, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of DermWellesley, your 20s and 30s are a perfect time to start this treatment. “As we age, we lose collagen and elastin which leads to increased fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of tone,” she explains. “Although there is nothing yet that will absolutely prevent this from happening, investing in your skin at an early age will pay off in the long run.”
So, did one session of Vivace RF Microneedling pay off? Was it painful? Read on for all the deets on my experience — and the results.
Vivace RF Vs. Other Microneedling Treatments
Microneedling is a procedure that involves repeatedly puncturing the skin with fine-tipped needles to create very tiny wounds. This process sends your skin into repair mode, which means a surge of collagen production to help it heal. And, as you may know, collagen plays a key role in your skin’s strength, elasticity, and hydration — in other words, keeping your complexion from sagging and wrinkling. The Vivace treatment uses a medical-grade stamping device with 36 gold-tipped needles for the microneedling component. But the secret weapon is the radiofrequency energy, which offers deeper penetration of the skin and additional stimulation of collagen and elastin production. This powerhouse combination purportedly makes the treatment more effective than many other professional microneedling devices. Plus, Vivace’s device uses LED light therapy to reduce inflammation while facilitating healing.
While microneedling treatments don’t require any downtime, some can cause redness that lasts up to 48 hours or more. That’s not the case with Vivace RF — Wise says most patients are only a little puffy and red for a few hours afterward. That means you could totally go on a dinner date or grab drinks with friends the very same night of your treatment.
How To Prep For Vivace RF Microneedling
Per Wise’s instructions, I made sure to stop using my retinoid skin care products a week before my microneedling appointment. Patients are also advised to stop using retinoids, glycolics, exfoliants, and other acids five to seven days beforehand (as they can make your skin extra-sensitive), avoid the use of sunless tanners (it could increase the risk of skin pigment change) and anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen) two weeks prior to treatment (these can potentially interfere with the natural inflammatory processes that are crucial for skin healing). It’s super important to wear SPF 30+ in the weeks leading up to your appointment, too, as dermatologists say they can't perform microneedling on sunburned skin.
I arrived at my microneedling appointment makeup-free. After quickly cleansing my skin, the assistant applied a topical numbing cream (lidocaine) all over my face, which was left on for 45 minutes. This is standard with microneedling treatments since they can be painful otherwise. I could feel a faint tingling sensation within minutes — but by the time my esthetician, Julie Flavin, rubbed it off prior to starting my facial, I couldn’t feel much of anything (a very good sign).
What Does Vivace RF Microneedling Feel Like?
I was a little nervous about the prospect of getting poked in the face with three dozen needles over and over again. Surprisingly enough, I was super relieved when I felt no pain whatsoever once the treatment started. I could feel some very light pressure throughout, but it didn't hurt. I’ll put it this way: Compared to a Brazilian wax or getting your eyebrows threaded, this is a total walk in the park. It hurt so little that TBH, I kind of forgot it was happening while Flavin and I excitedly chatted away about Kourtney Kardashian's love life.
The device made several passes on the different parts of my face, and Flavin continually adjusted the depth of the needle depending on the area being treated. Shallow areas — like the skin on the nose and around the eyes — aren’t penetrated as deeply as thicker tissue, like the cheeks.
On the very last pass, Flavin increased the radiofrequency heat to further stimulate collagen and elastin production. I’ll admit that this part did feel more uncomfortable, like quick blasts of heat, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Luckily, this last pass was done at a way faster pace, so it was over in about a minute or two. The whole process took about 35 to 40 minutes.
Post-Care And Results From Vivace RF Microneedling
When I looked in the mirror after my treatment, I wasn’t surprised to find that my skin looked pretty pink — especially since I’m the kind of gal whose face resembles a tomato after a vigorous workout or even a hot shower. I was assured this was totally normal, but to help, Flavin applied a cooling sheet mask packed with peptides that felt so calming for my skin. After leaving the mask on for 20 minutes, she sent me on my way with a vial of Vivace Boost Serum, which I was advised to use every two hours until it ran out in a couple of days.
Most of the redness had gone down by the time I arrived home an hour later — and it was completely gone when I got into bed that night. My skin felt taut and looked dewy AF. In fact, it looked so fab that I didn’t even want to wear makeup for the next few days.
Per instructions, I kept my skin clean for the next 24 hours — no makeup, moisturizer, or any other products besides the Vivace serum. I also made sure to avoid the sun, hot showers, and any vigorous exercise that might cause sweating for 48 hours. After a full day had passed, I was able to use my typical cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF, but retinoids and glycolic acids can’t be used for a full week afterward so your skin has time to fully heal.
Even just one week later, I already noticed some promising changes: My skin looked more even-toned, the texture was smoother, and my pores appeared to have shrunk. My face also looked overall more contoured, and some of my sun spots had faded. Basically, it looked like my skin was wearing an Instagram filter IRL. With Vivace RF Microneedling, the results are supposed to continue improving with time, so I can’t wait to see what my skin looks like three or four weeks from now. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
To experience the facial’s full potential benefits, Wise says you should get three sessions spaced about four to six weeks apart (followed by twice-annual maintenance sessions after). After seeing what one session can do, I’ll admit I’ve already started looking into booking my second treatment. I may not be able to undo all the damage from carelessness in my 20s, but with Vivace RF, I can at least kick my skin’s own natural anti-aging processes into high gear. Better late than never on prioritizing skin care, right?
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