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Alternatives:Healthcare Outside the Box

Unveiling the Mask

By Owen C. Franklin

The theory is that facial skin will be pulled tight when its foundation is toned.

Sometimes beauty care can seem like alchemy. Every day obscure elixirs and rituals offer shape-shifting promises. Now, a facial treatment product is using the near magical power of electricity in our chronic battle against wrinkles.

The product, called Rejuvenique, is a mask lined with 26 nodes that emit a very mild electrical current into targeted areas of the face. The idea is that the electricity will stimulate facial tissue and tone the skin. The Rejuvenique mask can be supplemented by a line of skin care products including a facial cleanser, Vitamin C serum and moisturizer.

"I think that one of its greatest strengths is that it combines technology with holistic medicine," said Barbara Westfield, a spokesperson for Rejuvenique.

An alternative approach

According to some traditions, energy called "qi" flows along lines throughout the body. When certain trigger points on these lines are activated, energy can be redirected to other parts of the body. As a Rejuvenique spokesperson explained, the mask activates these areas and brings nourishing energy to the face.

"It’s a really nice way to relax. You take fifteen minutes and do something good for your face," said Westfield.

Sparking doubts

Relaxation is one thing. But can qi smooth the skin?

The company’s web site claims that after continued use "you will likely notice a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles." The site also offers testimonials from satisfied customers.

Actress Linda Evans, a paid spokesperson for the product, said "I loved how my skin changed immediately with Rejuvenique."

While these reports are impressive, the web site does not explain what biological changes produce these results.

"We make no medical claims of the product," said Westfield.

Medical experts, however, do offer their opinions.

"This has been used before, electric current delivered to facial tissues has been tried many times and does nothing for wrinkles," said Dr. Devinder Mangat, president of the American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery.

The practice is often referred to as "micropulsation." Basically, electricity is used to stimulate and strengthen facial muscles. The theory is that facial skin will be pulled tight when its foundation is toned.

"It sounds good. It sounds like it should make sense," said Dr. Mangat. "But in actual fact it doesn’t work."

Trying the technique

Many doctors have tried micropulsation. Dr. Mark Solomon, a plastic surgeon, used the technique on his clients for several months.

"We were using it — little nodes on different areas," said Dr. Solomon. "It really didn’t make a lot of difference."

According to Solomon, toning facial muscles is a counterproductive approach to reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Solomon said strong and stimulated muscles may actually increases wrinkles.

"Muscles in the face move the skin," said Dr. Solomon. "Skin motion plus sun damage equals wrinkles."

Simply put, when muscles in the face are flexed, they can stretch the skin and produce wrinkles. You can see this in action when you squint your eyes and produce the ever-dreaded "crow’s feet."

So, what can you do?

The notion that each smile could lead to a wrinkle can be daunting. While electricity may not be the secret to youthful skin, there are other options.

Some people choose to go under the knife. There are several surgical procedures designed to remove wrinkles. These treatments, however, can take years off your savings, as well.

For a less expensive approach, skin care can come in a bottle. Pharmacy shelves bombard consumers with everything from creams to gels to sprays. One element you might want to look for in a skin care product is retin-A — a form of vitamin A that can exfoliate the skin and stimulate its growth.

This may be the last thing you want to hear: the best wrinkle care is preventive care. The best preventive care follows the age-old herald to stay out of the sun. Ultraviolet rays can break down critical tissue that keeps skin taught. If you are bound for the beach, be sure use sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15.

Donning the mask?

Some authorities may challenge the effects of micropulsation. This does not, however, necessarily mean that Rejuvenique is an unsuccessful product. The healing powers of qi, while somewhat ethereal, have not been disproved, either.

In addition, the mask may offer the facial massage many people crave after a long day. A good massage can "work magic" on our daily stresses.

"It can help people refresh and renew themselves," said Westfield. "It can really help you get ready for tomorrow."

Owen C. Franklin is a content producer at savvyHEALTH.com.

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