Is your skincare routine just not cutting it? Chances are, topical ingredients simply can’t address the concerns you’re looking to tackle. Thankfully, non-surgical cosmetic procedures like fibroblast skin tightening exist. With the ability to improve everything from skin texture to tone, it’s a great option for folks looking to embrace a visibly more radiant visage. To find out if it’s a good idea for your particular skin concerns, keep reading for everything there is to know about the popular in-office procedure.
Meet the Expert
What Is Fibroblast Skin Tightening?
Fibroblasts are a type of cell found in the connective tissue of our skin. Over time, fibroblasts weaken and, as a result, the skin begins to age. That’s where fibroblast skin tightening comes into play.
“Fibroblast skin tightening therapy targets fibroblasts: collagen- and protein-producing cells in the dermis (the layer of skin right below your top layer of skin),” board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman explains. “Fibroblasts help you heal from wounds and contribute to skin firmness and tightness.” Because of this, fibroblast skin tightening has become a popular non-surgical, non-invasive treatment that can lead to some pretty notable lifting and tightening results, all without the need for anesthesia.
As cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green points out, fibroblast skin tightening is performed with a pen-like device (also known as a plasma pen) to deliver an electric current to targeted areas of the skin, creating micro-injuries in the process. “The micro-injuries stimulate the activity of fibroblasts, inducing new collagen and elastin production in the skin, and ultimately resulting in skin resurfacing, without any surgery,” she shares. Thanks to its resurfacing ability, Green says that fibroblast skin tightening is used as treatment for acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin laxity, among other skin concerns.
Benefits of Fibroblast Skin Tightening
- Improves skin texture
- Improves skin tone
- Boosts collagen production
- Firms the skin
- Promotes a younger-looking appearance
- Addresses crow’s feet
- Tightens loose skin on the neck and jowls, as well as across the face and body as a whole
Fibroblast skin tightening has myriad benefits. According to Green, an effective fibroblast skin tightening treatment has the potential to improve the overall tone and texture of skin as well as boost collagen production, creating a firmer, healthier, younger appearance.
“This treatment is very effective at minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, tightening and reducing eyelids, and treating acne scars, stretch marks, and signs of aging such as hyperpigmentation and crepiness,” Engelman adds.
In other words, it’s one of the ultimate anti-aging cosmetic treatments. Of course, in order to see the most results, you have to be one of the best candidates for treatment.
“The best candidates for fibroblast therapy have mild to moderate textural skin concerns,” Green says. Not sure where you fall on that spectrum? Green suggests (urges, really) that you chat with a dermatologist prior to treatment to determine if you’re a good candidate for treatment.
As a general rule of thumb, she says the patient should be in good health and without any serious medical disorders, active infections, or pigmentation disorders before considering fibroblast skin tightening.
How to Prepare for Fibroblast Skin Tightening
Fibroblast skin tightening might only make micro-injuries, but they can still hurt. As such, Green says to prepare yourself for mild sensations but to know that a topical numbing agent will be applied to help mitigate the pain. Additionally, she says to expect several days of recovery time, as you don’t want to book yourself solid and then have to cancel following treatment.
What to Expect During a Fibroblast Skin Tightening Treatment
During a fibroblast skin tightening treatment, Green says that the skin will be treated with a plasma pen. “Micro-currents will be delivered to the skin, creating small, scab-like injuries,” she explains, noting that this can cause a tingling or burning sensation in the skin. “The physician who is performing the treatment may apply a cooling gel afterward to minimize the discomfort.” In total, the procedure can take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, depending on the size of the area treated, so be ready to sit back and (try to) relax while your derm works its skin-tightening magic.
Fibroblast Skin Tightening vs. Radiofrequency Skin Tightening
There are a few important things to keep in mind when considering fibroblast skin tightening treatments. While incredibly effective, Green points out that fibroblast skin tightening can have much more downtime and discomfort than other radiofrequency skin tightening lasers, such as Thermage and Thermage FLX. Additionally, in order for the best results to appear, more than one fibroblast skin tightening treatment is typically required, whereas many lasers require only a single treatment.
That said, Engelman points out that fibroblast results are more comparable to those of a surgical lift, in that they’re the most effective.
Additionally, she says that fibroblast skin tightening is more effective than radiofrequency therapy. “One to three treatments should yield visible results, versus five or more treatments needed for RF therapy,” she explains. But it does require some downtime.
Potential Side Effects
Thanks to the scab-like tendencies of fibroblast skin tightening, Green says that redness, swelling, hyperpigmentation, and skin peeling can occur during the healing process.
Let’s take an additional beat on the scabs, though. “Carbon crusts (tiny dots that form on the skin) are part of the normal healing process and will disappear within a week when properly treated,” Engelman assures.
Like most cosmetic treatments, the cost of fibroblast skin tightening depends on the area of treatment, the physical area in which the treatment is being performed, and the skill of the person doing it. “In general, fibroblast treatments cost between $400 to $700 or more, depending on the area being targeted and the therapy provider,” Engelman says. “If you’re interested in fibroblast treatment, I recommend asking your doctor for details about pricing and how many treatments you might need to see results.”
Remember: Fibroblast skin tightening comes with downtime. For starters, there are scabs that will take time to heal—which, obviously, should not be picked in the interim. Additionally, Green says that immediately following the procedure, the treated area should not get wet or washed. What’s more, she says that hot water should be avoided for seven days on the treated area, as should any skin products that can cause irritation.
To help speed up healing, Green recommends applying hydrating serums, which your dermatologist will likely supply following treatment. It's also important to avoid sun exposure (wear SPF!) and chemical treatments post-Fibroblast.
When all of these precautions are taken (and when the treatment is performed by a licensed professional), Green says the results can typically last two to three years.
The Final Takeaway
Fibroblast skin tightening offers exemplary results without the need for surgery or anesthesia. That said, scabs are a given, and downtime varies depending on the patient’s personal healing tendencies. Additionally, since it can lead to hyperpigmentation, it may not be the most ideal option for folks with darker skin tones. However, before ruling it out completely, it’s best to chat with your dermatologist to determine the proper course of action for your specific skin concerns.