I had an AquaGold facial and this is what it was like

The AquaGold device has 20 24-karat needle tips that penetrate beneath the skin for a targeted solution to skincare problems.
The AquaGold device has 20 24-karat needle tips that penetrate beneath the skin for a targeted solution to skincare problems.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

A facial with gold-plated needles? I was intrigued. As someone who recently started going for regular facials, I am a firm believer that your skin is worth looking after. After all, it is the body’s largest organ and shows the first tell-tale signs of ageing.

The AquaGold facial is a micro-needle treatment on steroids. The medical-grade, micro-channelling technology was developed in China and popularised in the US. The procedure is administered by a qualified medical professional using a device that has 20 24-karat gold-plated micro-channels, each with a diameter thinner than a human hair.

These channels allow for deep penetration, depositing a customised solution of active ingredients, based on your individual needs, directly into your skin. It is a targeted treatment that can be used in areas where deep peels and laser treatments are typically not performed.

During the procedure: Dr Mvundla administers the treatment by pressing the gold needles into my skin.
During the procedure: Dr Mvundla administers the treatment by pressing the gold needles into my skin.
Image: Supplied

Before the procedure

To experience the treatment, I visited Eclat & Skin Medical Aesthetic in Killarney Mall, a beauty clinic headed by aesthetic physician Dr Nontuthuko Mvundla, fondly known as “the Jo’burg beauty doctor”. She has been practising medicine for nine years and has spent the past four practising aesthetic medicine. She opened her clinic’s doors in 2018 and added the AquaGold treatment to her line-up four months ago.

No preparation is required for the procedure, making this facial relatively hassle free. I washed my face and applied my regular day creams in the morning, arriving for the treatment makeup-free.

After I filled in the pre-treatment forms, listing health conditions and prior treatments, Mvundla welcomed me into her office to find out my individual requirements. Throughout my visit, I was made to feel at ease. I didn’t feel pressurised to undergo any treatment I wasn’t comfortable with (I wasn’t too keen on the use of Botox although, in this case, it is used in micro form to shrink pores) and I was given informative answers to my questions. I felt confident I was in capable hands.

After the procedure: My skin has a red, flushed look to it.
After the procedure: My skin has a red, flushed look to it.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

Breakdown of the procedure

After a coffee and, feeling satisfied I knew what I was in for, it was time for the treatment to start. My face was cleaned using a gel cleanser, after which numbing cream was applied. Mvundla then mixed a solution of vitamins and anti-oxidants, in accordance with my specific needs, which took on a reddish colour in the vial.

The procedure is fairly quick – it is marketed as a “lunchtime treatment”. Once the numbing cream had started working, it was washed off and Mvundla started pressing the the needling device into my skin, working her way from my cheeks, across my forehead, around my nose, to my chin and mouth area.

I felt no pain on my left cheek, only slight discomfort on my forehead and some pain on my hairline - the fringe of the numbing cream’s power - and right cheek. Although I can’t say this is a 100% painless procedure, it is tolerable and is over in a short amount of time. At the very least, it is not a relaxing facial to have as part of a spa package!



After the procedure

I felt no lingering pain, although my skin had a red, flushed look to it which disappeared after two hours. My lips were slightly numb - they are sensitive to numbing creams, I was told – but this wore off after about three hours. I didn’t wash my face until the next morning, allowing the post-treatment application to feed and protect my skin overnight. I was advised to use sun screen, as I generally should, given my fair skin.

Like the popular vampire facial, the results of the AquaGold facial only start showing after about a week. Around this time, the spots I had before the facial started healing nicely (I tend to heal very slowly) and my skin started looking fresh –to the extent that a colleague commented on it. After 10 days, all the spots had healed and my skin had a healthy glow.

Image: Sanet Oberholzer

Final verdict

Prior to the treatment, I hadn’t been for a facial for a while and had been struggling with spotty skin for a couple of months. No new spots have formed since and my skin is looking good. I have been taking care of my skin throughout the winter, and it hasn’t felt dry, but I do think the AquaGold facial gave it a boost. So far, I am happy with the results and think I will be able to maintain the healthy glow by sticking to my skincare routine and going for another facial in a month’s time, although it need not be an AquaGold treatment.

The procedure can be repeated every two to four weeks, or on a monthly basis, as advised by your aesthetic physician. That said, the price, which starts at R3 500 and can reach up to R7 000 (depending on the individualised treatment you receive) might limit those on a tight budget to having an AquaGold facial around special events or as their budget allows.

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