Sometimes, beauty is pain. And no one understands the ageless phrase quite like Kim Kardashian.
"This is a game changer," the Skims founder touted on Instagram Stories Aug. 3, alongside a photo of herself lying flat on her back with her abdomen looking slightly red. "I think this is my fave laser but it's painful LOL but worth it!"
Similar to the vampire facial that Kim popularized, the results of her latest beauty procedure attracted the curiosity of her fans. Luckily, Dr. Ashkan Ghavami answered all of E! News' burning questions about the Morpheus8 Microneedling Fractional Treatment.
A board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, he laid everything on the table and exclusively broke down all that there is to know about Kim's procedure.
E! News: For those who may not know about the treatment, explain what it is exactly.
Dr. Ashkan Ghavami: This is a radio frequency treatment. It's heat delivered under the skin at a certain depth based on the needles and the customized treatment. Everyone's different in what depth they do. I might do a shallower depth on the forehead and under the eyes but I might do a deeper one on the cheeks or the neck.
E! News: What are the different Morpheus options available?
AG: We have a Morpheus Body, which is for the body, and then one that's for the face. The body one goes a little deeper. I can use the Morpheus Body for above the knees, inner thighs, arms, and around the belly button and abdomen—for those people that, if they have the right posture, they're not quite there to need a tummy tuck or an arm lift. I can do lower and upper eyelines with the face one.
E! News: Kim described this as a "painful" treatment. What should someone with a lower pain tolerance keep in mind if they are considering this treatment?
AG: She didn't have the numbing on for very long. If we know that somebody really wants to have the most comfortable experience, I can block some of the nerves with an injection like your dentist. Or numb them for longer: 20, 30 or sometimes 35 minutes. I'm not sure how long Kim numbed for, but I don't think it was the full length of time.
It should hurt a little bit but not too much. There's a sweet spot. So, we don't necessarily want someone to be fully numb. We'll calibrate and dial up or down how much energy we're delivering and how deep we're going based on your feedback.
E! News: How long does the treatment typically take?
AG: Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many areas you do. If you're going to do arms and décolletage and other parts of the body, it can go up to 45 minutes. But once you're numb, you're numb for an hour or more.
E! News: What are the side effects patients often associated with this treatment?
AG: For someone administering this treatment, you have to understand someone's pigment, melanin content and how easily they tan, because if somebody is of a certain ethnicity and you go too deep, you deliver too much heat, and don't use the right technique, you could do some damage. Any laser, any radiofrequency device, even a chemical peel, can do damage if you do it on the wrong type.
As for the people getting the treatments, they are slightly red or blush for about one to two days. It's not one of those things where the skin sloughs. However, some people will get a little scab where the microneedles were. It will exude old, dead skin and that's part of the way it works. If you don't get immediate tightening, you at least get fresh skin. There's an early phase where you feel a slightly swollen effect. A lot of people do this before a red carpet. There's also a long term effect where two to three months later, little by little, the collagen is repaired and it's tighter.
E! News: What are some of the results to getting this procedure done?
AG: It's almost impossible for someone to say I saw nothing. There's always some improvement, but skin is one of those things where if you're looking at yourself every single day, you may not notice small changes. The subtle differences don't show as much, but they're cumulative. In time, you will definitely see and feel it.
That's also why we like to do stacked treatments because this is one of those things to do preventatively. You don't necessarily look for immediate effects, although there are some. It's really getting that collagen to repair itself in a tighter, different, more organized way than it was before when it was loose and aged.
As for Kim, she's not completely new to this.
(This interview was edited for length and clarity.)