Plasma pens are pen-like devices utilized as a non-invasive cosmetic procedure, typically to enhance the appearance of the skin.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and side effects of plasma pen treatment. We’ll also take a look at the procedure and compare the plasma pen to Botox and microneedling.
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Aging is a blessing in life, but it does come with some cosmetic compromises—wrinkles, skin thinning, or hyper-pigmentation. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) in 2019, the most prevalent cosmetic procedure done by adults aged 35 and above is “botulinum toxin”, more commonly known as Botox.
Though Botox is a renowned and well-accepted procedure worldwide, there is still room for a more advanced method of enhancing one’s physical appearance. That said, plasma pens may be the newest addition to the family of cosmetic procedures; this begs the question of their safety and effectiveness.
What Are Plasma Pens?
Plasma pens are pen-like devices that treat a myriad of skin conditions (related to aging or not) through fibroblast therapy. Some of these conditions include fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, skin tags, acne scars, plump lines, and sunspots. This non-invasive cosmetic procedure works by channeling electric energies to release plasma gas.
When the plasma pen is directed to the skin, the energized plasma gas finds its way to the outermost skin and causes “micro-trauma”. If you’re worried about what the “trauma” entails, do not worry because it’s unlikely for you to feel severe pain as it only occurs on a cellular level.
Despite causing a “micro-trauma”, plasma pens still work in our favor because it triggers skin cell regeneration and collagen, fibroblasts and elastin production. These cells, tissues, and proteins are the key players of a healthy and elastic skin texture. Therefore, the more you have, the better it is!
What Does Plasma Pen Do?
Our bodies are programmed to produce cellular components to keep our skin healthy periodically. However, the effectiveness of this regulation system significantly reduces with age. Did you know that it’s possible to lose up to 1% of the total body collagen every year after your 40s?
Have a quick read on our detailed post about collagen deficiency and ways you can go about that here.
Plasma pens address these shortages by ramping up the production of essential biological connective tissues. As a result, people using plasma pens will experience less skin sagging, a reduction in wrinkles, and significant skin lifting and tightening. This is how plasma pens live up to their advertisements as a new technology to impede facial declines.
What Does The Plasma Pen Treatment Look Like?
Plasma pen treatment can be targeted at many skin areas. Here’s just to name a few:
- Nasolabial folds (lines that form from the corner of your nose to your mouth when you smile)
- Upper or lower eyelids
- Corner of the mouth
Regardless of the area-to-treat, the plasma pen procedure will be more or less the same. Firstly, your skin will be cleansed and numbed with an anesthetic cream; this way, you can be at ease during the treatment because you’ll not feel any burning or tingling sensation.
Next, your cosmetic practitioner will use the plasma pen to treat the chosen area. By the end of this process, you’ll see some dots on your skin— don’t panic because they’re only dead cells. A typical plasma pen procedure will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
Finally, the practitioner will remove the anesthetic cream with a cooling gel to reduce the chances of you experiencing any feeling of discomfort. The recovery phase post-treatment takes about one week. During this week, your skin will start healing and rejuvenating, so you can expect to see some positive results.
That said, you’d need to follow up with your cosmetic practitioner for a few more plasma pen treatment sessions to gain maximal results. The usually recommended number of plasma pen treatments is three; however, it may vary depending on your response and the practitioner’s opinion.
A popular question that you may have is this, “Can I use the plasma pen at home?”
Some companies have marketed this product for use at home. It isn’t surprising that this has garnered quite a lot of attention, given the convenience of having the procedure done at home.
However, it is best to have the plasma pen procedure done by a professional. Incorrect use of the device may lead to permanent damage, overwriting any possible benefits it has on your skin. A professional will know the right technique. Hence, having the plasma pen procedure done by them instead of opting for an at-home experiment will reduce the risk and increase its possible benefits.
Does The Plasma Pen Really Work?
Any FDA-approved product would have to undergo a stringent and thorough approval process to demonstrate promising benefits to consumers. On this basis, it’s safe to say that FDA-approved plasma pens do work.
As of 2021, the FDA approves using plasma pens for people above 22 years of age. So if you fit the criteria, you can, by all means, consult a cosmetic practitioner. Additionally, there’s a myriad of before and after testimonies proving the wonders of plasma pen treatments.
On top of that, plasma pen treatment is considered to be cost-effective as its cosmetic benefits last for an average of three years.
How Safe Are Plasma Pens?
In 2020, the Journal of Dermatological Treatment published a study evaluating plasma exeresis as a non-surgical treatment method for dermatochalasis (a skin condition where there’s excess skin in the eyelids leading to baggy eyes). A total of 40 female participants were recruited and treated with Dermaplax Device, a plasma device technology from Spain.
The participants of this study had three plasma treatment sessions with one-month intervals. After three months, this double-blinded study concluded a significant reduction in eyelid sloppiness. More importantly, none of the participants reported any serious adverse effects.
In terms of mild side effects, 6 of the participants experienced hyper-pigmentation but it self-resolved three months post-treatment. Other than that, pain, although tolerable, was reported by all the patients— 70% of the participants had mild pain while the remaining 30% had moderate pain.
Plasma pens are effective and safe, but they do come with the cost of some risks. Here are some plasma pen side effects you should look out for: –
- Mild to moderate pain
- Swelling and bruising
- Scabbing, drying, and crusting
- Skin discoloration
How Much Does Plasma Pen Treatment Cost?
The cost of plasma pen treatments depends on the skin area you’re looking to treat. For example, let’s look at Subnovii plasma pen, a 6-year leading and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved plasma pen brand.
You can book a Subnovii plasma pen treatment appointment for your smaller skin areas (i.e. frown lines) at $500. However, the same plasma pen treatment for larger surfaces (i.e. the neck) could range up to $5000.
There’s no doubt that there are cheaper plasma pen brands out there, but you need to verify their safety before booking an appointment.
Are Plasma Pens Better Than Botox?
It depends on your definition of “better”. If you’re looking for a more convenient and longer-lasting option, a plasma pen could be your choice. This is because botox treatments last for an average of four months, and therefore, require multiple follow-up sessions.
Otherwise, if you’re expecting a more conventional cosmetic procedure, botox may be better for you. Botox treatments have been around since the late 19th century, and more aesthetic surgeons are trained to perform botox procedures. Contrastingly, plasma pens are a relatively new technology; hence it may be slightly more challenging for you to find a licensed practitioner performing plasma pen treatment.
Both cosmetic procedures, botox, and plasma pens come with their own set of pros and cons. That being so, the choice is for you to make— the ball is in your court!
Plasma Pen Vs Microneedling
A microneedling procedure is less expensive than the plasma pen. But based on anecdotal reports, many users have stated that the plasma pen tends to be more effective than microneedling, and hence, requires fewer sessions to maintain its effects. In addition to its higher costs, the plasma pen procedure also takes a longer time compared to microneedling.
This is also due to the fact that the effects from plasma pen tend to last longer than microneedling. Results may still be noticeable for up to 3-5 months after the microneedling procedure. On the other hand, the effects of the plasma pen may last for years.
Do Plasma Pens Leave Scars?
Suppose performed and managed incorrectly, yes. The correct use of a plasma pen includes directing a safe level of electrical energy and targeting the right skin areas. Certified protocols are also in place to encourage the safe and optimal use of plasma pens.
Unfortunately, it’s not new for untrained cosmetic providers to neglect these protocols resulting in poor outcomes such as facial scars. So, once again, make sure you’re consulting an accredited practitioner for plasma pen treatments. And it’s best to avoid using the plasma pen yourself at home.
It’s also crucial for you to minimize your sunlight exposure for 2 to 3 months post-treatment. It’s because your new skin cells and connective tissues are still growing, and they’re unable to withstand the harsh heat energy and rays from the sun.
Bottom line: Plasma Pens
Plasma pen treatment is undoubtedly a revolutionizing technology, and it has many to attain the “skin complexions of their dreams”. There are both positive and negative reviews of plasma pens.
Therefore, it’s your responsibility to make informed decisions centered around your health and wellness. Always remember that you are beautiful just the way you are; cosmetic treatments are mere enhancers of what you already have.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional
- International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (2021). Retrieved July 27, 2021, from ISAPS website: https://www.isaps.org/medical-professionals/isaps-global-statistics/
- Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (2020). Microneedling Devices. Retrieved July 27, 2021, from U.S. Food and Drug Administration website: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/aesthetic-cosmetic-devices/microneedling-devices#uses
- Evaluation of plasma exeresis as a new technique for non surgical treatment of dermatochalasis. (2020). Retrieved July 27, 2021, from Journal of Dermatological Treatment website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09546634.2020.1800569