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Dare to go BareAcccck, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly confident in displaying my bare face on this blog even if I have a couple of times now. But I think my keep-on-trying-different-things skincare routine and massive hormone drop since giving birth have taken their toll on my usually non-problematic skin. As chronicled here, albeit sporadically, I’ve gone to war with acne, as an onslaught of bumps and pimples grew next to each other on my right cheek successively for months. There has been a ceasefire that followed since I brought out my weapons of mass destruction (a.k.a my new skincare routine) but sadly, I’m left with scars and blemishes from the battle that was fought. With that, I’m left always vigilant for the next skincare treatment to treat blemishes and mild acne scarring that can produce the quickest results in as little downtime as possible. I haven’t really gone so far out as to try lasers and microdermabrasion, only limiting myself to mild chemical peels such as glycolic and lactic. Now peels are all good and dandy, but they thin the skin when done so frequently that in the long run, one becomes more prone to sunspots, pigmentation and premature wrinkles. Now for someone who isn’t as religious in reapplying sunscreen all throughout the day, that certainly deterred me from getting more of those instant-glow-inducing peels much as I want to.
Step into the World of E-MatrixRecently, Skin Dermatology and Laser Center by The Spa, invited me to try their innovative E-Matrix treatment that makes use of radio frequency energy to achieve its goal of treating mild to moderate wrinkles, red and brown spots and other textural irregularities that result from acne scarring. If you’re familiar with other fractional resurfacing treatments that burn through the skin to stimulate collagen, this is similar except there is no burning through the skin and the downtime is as minimal as possible. Makeup can be worn in as little as 12 hours after the treatment. I’ll go through a detailed explanation after the jump! Warning: Some close-up photos and major bare face spammage is about to ensue, as well as a bit detailed explanation on the treatment. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s get this on.
What is E-Matrix and what does it do?It is a kind of sublative rejuvenation – a unique cosmetic solution that harnesses the power of fractionated bi-polar radiofrequency (RF) to deeply penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen production beneath the surface while keeping the outer layer of skin intact. Due to the unique nature of the treatment tool making use of RF for its delivery, the majority of the ablation (or removal) for resurfacing from the procedure occurs under the skin. The beauty of sublative rejuvenation is that it allows for less downtime for the patient and less surface skin removal. To compare, the traditional non-sublative resurfacing treatments overheat the top layer of skin to the point of complete ablation. This forces new skin to develop, but the process is very slow and painful. Another benefit of the E-matrix is that its focused energy currents are applied to the skin in a matrix, bypassing upper layers of the skin which results in stimulation of the natural production of collagen at the source. In turn, this kind of “resets” the body’s regenerative process producing results that continue to improve over time.
Skin PrepFirst, they clean the face. Followed by application of local anesthesia all over, wrapping the whole face in plastic to let the cream sink in. This takes one whole hour so I suggest, bring some reading material or anything to keep you entertained for one full hour. I suggest taking this application into consideration when booking for an appointment, because 1 it really takes 1 whole hour. My companion for the whole hour, The Spa’s signature ginger tea. I was so engrossed in reading the magazines they provided me with, I forgot to even take a sip of this. Woops. The dermatologist in charge gave me an in-depth lesson on the whole process, what to expect and everything else I needed to know about the treatment. I was immediately put at ease after our talk and all throughout the treatment, she made me feel safe and secure, even if I was at the verge of panicking at one point in time.
The Treatment ProperThis is the machine that is used for the E-Matrix treatment. It can also do laser hair removal (Diode) and other treatments I wasn’t able to take note of. Another innovative feature of E-Matrix is the live view which allows the technician/doctor delivering the treatment to see on screen the action happening on the skin upon contact. E-Matrix is also applied on non-moisturized, dry skin so no lotions or gels are applied during the process. Before starting, I was given an eye mask to cover and protect my eyes (which to be honest, made me more nervous and anxious because I wouldn’t be seeing what will happen!). Upon each contact, there will be 140-200 pulses or individual shots of energy that are fired on to the skin. On the first contact, it felt like nothing (halleluuujah!). I even thought to myself, “heeey, it doesn’t hurt a bit! I must have a high threshold for pain!”. But then as the treatment went along, and more and more layers of pulses are added, I did begin to feel a warm sensation on the skin that escalated to stingy/prickly level as each layer of pulse passes. Near the ear and hairline area where little to no anesthesia was applied, it hurt more. Think of it as your skin being electrocuted. For those who’ve tried Fraxel or any other resurfacing treatment, this is probably just peanuts. Also, a few minutes into the process, I can smell something burning, which made me feel like taking the eye mask off. I felt so alarmed at the thought of burning skin! Thankfully, the doctor calmed me down and told me it’s normal, as the skin inside is being overheated, which is part of the process. And that my top skin layer is fine, intact, not burning at all. Phew. The whole process took 30-35 minutes to complete. I was expecting more pain than what had actually transpired, so when I was told the treatment is done, I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back. Little did I know what would happen after.
THE AFTERMATHMy face was really red from the treatment – but that was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was the mega burning feeling that followed. It felt like my face was on fiiiire! I literally wanted to dunk it in a tub filled with ice water. Thankfully, SKIN Clinic has this ice water-filled balloon ready for E-Matrix patients after treatment which is to be patted on the skin. I left the clinic with this orange balloon that never left my face even after I got home. Just a brief timetable, I went in for my treatment around 5PM. Anesthesia application started at 5:45 PM and took an hour so we began the E-Matrix around 6:45 PM. We finished around 7:15PM and left the clinic around 7:30PM after a few final reminders from the derma. She was very thoughtful, even preparing a personal handwritten after-care guide and her mobile number in case I get paranoid and start freaking out (for whatever reason!). Even as I got home, I couldn’t remove the balloon on my face, much as I dared myself. The longest time I was sans-balloon was 2 minutes. Imagine a really bad sunburn and multiply it by 100. Thankfully – the burning sensation lasted for two hours only. Around 9PM, I miraculously didn’t feel any stinging anymore. However, when I washed my face around 11PM that night with a gentle cleanser, the water made it sting again!! I generously sprayed my beloved thermal water all over after washing and it calmed down slowly. The next day, I don’t remember any more pain or stinging feeling even as I washed my face. The worst was definitely over.
Post-TreatmentAnd so the minimal downtime begins. I personally was able to go to the mall the next day despite the redness still majorly evident. I skipped makeup because as much as possible, I wanted my skin to recover, breathe and repair itself without any makeup covering it. I used an intensive cream moisturizer three days after the treatment to help speed up the exfoliation process. The crusting above remained and took almost four days to start exfoliating. I’ve attached a collage below of how my skin fared days after the treatment.
What to expect?If you’re thinking of trying the E-Matrix treatment, I suggest to really consult with a dermatologist and talk everything over. However, as I was scouring the net for reviews on this treatment before my scheduled appointment, there was little-to-no material I could read to help me prepare myself for the treatment. So for anyone interested, here are some things to keep in mind.
PainI haven’t tried other resurfacing treatments that supposedly hurt like hoo-ha. But, I have to say that E-Matrix does not feel totally painless despite the local anesthesia applied on the face an hour prior to application. The minor discomfort is very tolerable though. Although I was informed by the dermatologist that the E-Matrix has three levels of strength – my skin condition was matched to the E-matrix Level 2 mainly for skin rejuvenation and not Level 3, which is for pothole, icepick and crater acne scarring. So if you’re going for that, it may hurt more.
DowntimeThe minimal-almost-no downtime this promises is that you can already wear makeup 12 hours after treatment. It doesn’t mean that the skin isn’t without a bit of ugliness, though because it does. The marks left by the matrix applicator takes some time to turn into crusts and completely exfoliate by itself. Mine took a full 9 days till everything completely disappeared.
ResultsWith one session, I already experienced significant results in terms of texture, tone and clarity. In short, overall skin appearance. And that’s just in almost two weeks after the treatment. But collagen takes time to reproduce and grow, so I was told that results can still be seen months after treatment. Also, depending on severity of wrinkles, acne scars and other issues, number of sessions vary to produce the best results.
Result After 1 SessionThe photo above was taken 8 days after treatment and I still had some matrix marks left. However, I can already see (and feel) the major improvement in skin texture and tone on the exfoliated parts. I particularly have two old bumps (left by cystic acne) on my right cheek that were completely gone after this treatment. I have a much more even skintone that I can confidently skip on foundation! Also, I feel my skin more bouncy and plumped-up as if I had finished up a tub of La Mer in one night. What’s more is my skin tightened, especially in the jaw area, making my face appear slimmer and my jawline a bit more prominent. However, my acne blemishes were still there. A particular slight fading but not a complete elimination. Of course, I’ve only done 1 treatment and it’s only been 11 days since so I am still hopeful that with the new collagen production still in the works, I’ll still be seeing results.
Final Thoughts and RecommendationsOverall, I would recommend this E-Matrix treatment for anyone who wants to see an instant change in texture, tone and clarity on their skin. But I would definitely recommend it more to those who have major acne scarring such as potholes, craters and icepicks as well as those who have wrinkles and fine lines. As compared to traditional resurfacing that burns through the top layer of skin, as well as the healthy skin surrounding the problem areas, E-Matrix works under all these to target the collagen production at the source. There is pain, there is downtime, but very minimal (almost none if you’ve undergone the traditional ones) as compared to laser and light resurfacing.
SKIN DERMATOLOGY AND LASER CLINIC Inside The Spa Wellness in Fort Bonifacio High Street and Shangrila Plaza Mall (East Wing) Contact Numbers: (02) 403-8000 (Fort) & (02) 656-6868 (Shangri-la)Facebook: Skin Dermatology & Laser Center Twitter: The Spa Instagram: The Spa *I was invited to try the E-Matrix free of charge. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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