As a 60-something female, Kate Swanson is well aware of the challenges facing women throughout their life in health, beauty, and fashion.
As I wrote in my article on the amazing Omnilux non-surgical facelift, I tried the CACI electronic facelifting system in my 40s, and was disappointed. However, I'm now in my late 50s and the sag is advancing—so, when I saw a beauty salon offering a CACI/Omnilux package deal, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a second chance.
Don't get me wrong—I'm still very happy with red light phototherapy. But, although phototherapy does plump up the skin and reduce wrinkles, it can't stop the muscles from sagging. So, I decided it was time to try adding another weapon to my anti-aging arsenal.
I have been using an EAN brand facial massager in combination with TruSkin Naturals brand vitamin C serum as my primary method for reducing my wrinkles and firming up my facial muscles for a few years now. The combination of the two had me seeing fairly impressive results, so I knew that modern technology can make a difference with facial wrinkles. So, could CACI actually do any better? Of course I was interested in finding out!
What Is CACI?
A CACI therapist uses hand-held wands to transmit microcurrents through your skin and facial muscles.
CACI isn't the only non-surgical facelift system that works by electrical impulses, but other systems generally operate at mill amperage current, which is stronger—you'll feel your face twitching. You can't feel CACI's microcurrents working, but the makers claim that makes them more effective, not less, because they work at a much deeper level in the skin.
Does CACI Work?
Is it a facelift? Is it anti-aging?
There is clinical evidence that CACI works. A study at the University of Washington showed microcurrents can increase elastin by 45%, collagen by 10% and the number of blood vessels by 35%. Elastin and collagen are what keep your skin plump and firm, and good blood flow will give you a glow.
The trouble is, those aren't the results I'm looking for! I thought CACI could lift sagging facial muscles—and although some CACI therapists claim it does, I couldn't find any clinical evidence of that.
Facelift or Anti-Aging?
Before my research, I assumed the CACI facelift worked like an EMS (TENS) machine, which is used in physiotherapy to strengthen injured muscles. Pads are placed on either side of the muscle, the current is turned on and the muscle contracts and relaxes hundreds of times a minute. It's like condensing hours of exercise into minutes, and it tones and shapes as well as strengthens. You'll find it in some weight loss salons used as a toning system, and there are at-home versions as well.
However, CACI is not the equivalent of a TENS machine. The microcurrents of CACI are too weak to cause meaningful contractions in the muscles. For that, you need a Faradic facial, and few beauty salons offer them these days.
So, Did It Work for Me?
As you might expect, based on that research, I didn't notice any reduction in sagging during my second course of CACI—except for one treatment.
That was the day my regular operator was off sick, and the salon owner did my treatment instead. It felt like she used a stronger setting—I could feel my facial muscles twitching—and afterwards, I thought I could see more definition around my jawline. I found myself wondering what the results would've been like if she'd done the whole course instead of her assistant!
Since then, I've had several comments on this article from readers and the more comments I get, the more it seems that CACI can lift sagging muscles—but results depend on the skill of the operator as much as on the machine.
Read More From Bellatory
I am now considering giving CACI yet another try if I can find a good operator. The question is how? The salon I went to was an upmarket one that boasted highly trained operators—so that's no guide. I'm reluctant to waste money by making the wrong choice again. I'll let you know if I find a solution!
In the meantime, I will stick to my trusty EAN brand facial massager in combination with TruSkin Naturals vitamin C treatment since I know I saw significant results from that combination and I am a little hesitant to stop doing what I know works.
- CACI Microlift Before and After Images
CACI Microlift, Before & After
- Skin Tone Can Change Perceived Age Up To 12 Years
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Kate Swanson
Debby uk on December 04, 2018:
Hi i had a 10 session course of caci after i had been taking citalopram for 3 years ( which i'm still on)....i think your clinic was using the citalopram as an excuse! The course, over 3 weeks made a fantastic difference to my facial muscles. My jowls were improved and my facial muscles were really tight. I have been continuing with monthly top ups for the past 2 years and the contour of my face is still improving. I am aged 58. My uk salon worked wonders & my before & after pics really show an improvement. Caci does not claim to reduce wrinkles though.
ANITA AUSTIN on August 11, 2018:
I have had thirteen CACI treatments and have seen no visible lifting effect at all. When i commented about this to the salon owner. I was told that the reason was because of my medication (citalopram). At no time during my induction to the CACI treatment was i informed that I would require extra courses over the 10 recommended due to me taking antidepressants. The only thing i have gained form CACI is £580 worth of experience.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 12, 2017:
Glenis, well done for getting to seventy with only some sagging in that area! I've been very lucky to have very few wrinkles, but my jowls and mouth started to sag in my mid-fifties. Like you, I understood CACI would tone the muscles but as my review states, the clinically proven benefits all relate to wrinkles and circulation, not muscle toning.
Glen Rix from UK on February 12, 2017:
I came across your review whilst conducting a google search for CACI reviews. I had a course of 10 treatments in my mid-forties and was happy with the results. I will be seventy this year and whilst my skin is generally good I have some sagging around my jowls and the corners of my mouth. I have now had six CACI sessions (2 each week as recommended) and they have not had the muscle toning results that I hoped for. Will have one more and then give up if I don't have a more positive outcome.
guapa on February 08, 2016:
I have just finished a course of 10 Caci Facials. During the course I had three different operators and they all did it differently.
I have NOT seen any difference after the course of 10. I took photos ( on my own mobile phone) after the 1st,4th,7th and finally 10th and there was not a scrap of difference. I agree with previous comments that It's sooo important to check the qualifications of the operators/establishment and to have your questions ready before you start your treatment. I do feel a photo should be taken by the providers and perhaps a progress check during treatment. All I got was...yes your skin feels smoother yea??
I'm glad I did try Caci . Now I'm wiser and feel confident that I'ts a lot of hipe. I invested a lot of money and it definitely was a waste of time and and a waste of my hard earned £500.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 19, 2015:
Josephine, I had exactly the same experience. It's a problem when the treatment is so expensive and you don't know whether you'll get a good operator.
Josephineji on January 19, 2015:
I've through all the acticles about Caci. I'm in Dallas Texas and only found one place here that does it. Pricy. Bought a package deal of four for about $500. I've just had my 2nd caci treatement however it wasn't as good as the first one. Same technician but for some reason it wasn't as effective and the first also she wasn't consistent whilst doing the treatment for both sides of the face. So I agree it really depends on the the therapist. I appreciate all the info everyone as posted. Thank you
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 14, 2014:
I'm not in the US but I do find that interesting. I've read a lot about Ultherapy and while it can be effective. it can also remove fat from under the skin - something which is great to get rid of your double chin, but may not be so good if your cheeks are already a bit sunken! So as far as I can see, FDA approved or not, ultherapy has more risks than CACI or photorejuvenation.
Leslie Gerstman on December 14, 2014:
The only device that is FDA approved for lifting the skin by targeting the facial muscles is Ultherapy.
Yuko on May 19, 2013:
@ Helen. This is the first time I heard about hurting the jaw line. Minor shocks can happen but because CACI uses microcurrent (max 640uA - usually 160uA in your first few treatments), at worse, you could feel some tingling which will go away immediately. By the way, if you feel a therapist pulling your skin, then it is a wrong technique. CACI works on muscle, not the skin. Hope this helps :) Yuko - Sydney...
Helen Scully on May 18, 2013:
Hi Thanks, I am getting better. Jaw still numb (a week later). Blister came up inside my lower lip and it was not pretty what came out of it. As everyone seems to say, make sure the therapist doing the facial has a lot of experience - my girl was only just trained in.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on May 16, 2013:
Ooh, ouch! When I've tried CACI, my complaint has been that the therapists have been too cautious - the one time I saw any sign of a result, was the time I could feel a slight shock. It never occurred to me that there could be risks in overdoing it. Thanks for the cautionary tale and I do hope you feel better soon.
Helen Scully on May 16, 2013:
I just had my 2nd Caci facial last sat. The therapists are only just trained in.. my first one was fine, she was careful and referring to the charts, but on sat she was overconfident and hurt my jaw line, at one stage I said"are you trying to remove my double chin" and I could feel the shocks. Well I am now on steroids and an antiobitic, face swollen and numb, lower teeth painful, on sick cert from work. Wont be going for a 3rd.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 30, 2013:
Thanks Yuko, unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a link to your site or your email.
ocbill from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice on April 29, 2013:
Interesting method using electrical impulses. Have you heard or used the Tanaka facial massage? It seems to be in line with other anti-aging facials.
Yuko on April 29, 2013:
@Marisa, I agree that Omnilux is one of the best solution for wrinkles. But it won't work for saggy jawline. The effectiveness of a CACI Face Lift treatment depends heavily on the operator. I am an owner of a freelance business in Sydney and I own a CACI Ultimate. I travel to my client's place. I never had a disappointed client. If you are keen, you are welcomed to try a 60 minutes face lift from me for 50% of the price - no strings attached :) Hope to hear from you. Thanks for initiating such a great blog!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 27, 2013:
I wish the bottom half of my face was holding up as well as the top half! Seriously, I credit Omnilux with the lack of wrinkles - they were starting to look pretty bad until I had an intensive course of Omnilux. However it didn't do much for my saggy jawline and that's the big age giveway for me. I've yet to find anything that really helps that.
Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on April 27, 2013:
With comments both pro and against I don't know whether to try it now or not. You look like you don't need it anyway! Great hub, voted up,useful and interesting and shared with my followers.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 13, 2013:
Afr, as it's essentially the same technology, I don't see how it could be any better or worse than CACI. From the feedback I've got, it seems that an awful lot depends on the operator, too
Afr on April 13, 2013:
Has anyone had a dermalift micro current facial? I have heard it is better, but I don't know for sure.
Bob on April 07, 2013:
I'm a physiotherapist reading this as my gf continues to waste money on these fad treatments. Caci is nothing like tens or faradism and it wouldn't make any difference if it was because they won't tone your face either as the muscle contractions are not the right type of contractions. None of these laser/electro treatments will make any lasting change. As I physio I would advise you to take a lot of general exercise, cut caffeine, eat well and drink plenty of water. This is a cheaper, more effective way to get a better facial tone!
FIONA on September 12, 2012:
I have had a course of ten treatments in scotland on holiday and would like to know where to go in surrey England to get top ups..i was impressed by the Caci result. I had comments of how young I looked.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 25, 2012:
@Spa Barbie, I've been looking for evidence that 'CACI works on the underlying muscle structures" and haven't been able to find any.
In the research studies I could find, the Faraday treatment was the only one which worked on muscles. Microcurrent treatments (like CACI) had measurable benefits on elastin, collagen and circulation (similar to those claimed by Omnilux) - not muscles. If you can point me to studies showing otherwise, I'd be genuinely interested - and would be more inclined to give CACI another try.
You're the third or fourth commenter who's said that everything depends on the operator, so it sounds like that's vitally important. The challenge is how to know whether you've got a good one - I went to a clinic that did CACI and nothing else, so you'd think their operators would be well-trained. Clearly not!
Spa Barbie on April 25, 2012:
Wow, so much misinformation in this "article" and the comments. CACI is actyually the only non-invasive treatment that can work on the underlying muscle structures. I have done two courses of CACI treatments, (5 years apart) and it worked wonders for me. I'm not one to consider surgery (only in my early 40's) and Omnilux is a complete rip off based on my experiences. Do you know that even Omnilux state you don't see the results with the infrared light until 12 weeks after you have finished the course? And that's a only wavelength that works on collagen? The blue does have anti-bacterial properties so great for chronic acne but that's all, and the red light "promotes healing". It didn't promote anything apart from a flushed red face for an hour or so afterwards and my loss of money. One thing I will say is that CACI treatments are incredibly provider specific - the Esthetician really needs to know the muscles and structures of the skin and have great technique to yield great results. Give it someone who is a just collecting a paycheck (too many therapists like this out there) and you'll get zero results. They have to be a pro and ever since I found my girl, it's the only treatment I'll do regularl
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 22, 2012:
@Jolie, it's interesting the machine's original purpose to help stimulate the facial muscles of stroke victims. I was hoping for exactly that benefit, because the Omnilux did great things for my skin, but couldn't correct the sagging. I didn't see any improvement, and I note that the modern research into CACI didn't find any benefit to muscles, only to the skin.
@Ursulall, maybe consistency of treatment was part of the problem in my case. The Omnilux requires no skill - the client just sits under it. CACI does require a lot of skill. As I mentioned earlier, I did notice a better outcome when I had a couple of treatments with a different operator.
UrsulaII on April 22, 2012:
I am a beauty salon owner in Surrey and have had a trial session of the caci facial demonstrated in my salon with superb results.I had a thorough facial in Le Sport in St.Lucia with amazing results.Trying to get consistency in these facials is impossible.CACI should monitor closely salons providing their treatments.Prices also vary wildly.
Jolie on April 20, 2012:
I have been carring out caci treatments for 12 years & have good results with the machine, also can depend on the client themselves like everything not one thing is suitable for everyone! I offer half face trials to show people what to expect from the course & how it feels. The machine was originally designed for stroke victims to help correct their face if one side had dropped to help lift the muscles back.
Susan on April 16, 2012:
I had a course of 12 CACI treatments, and noticed no difference. Waste of money.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 29, 2011:
@Betty, I agree with you. During my course of CACI treatment, I had another therapist for a couple of treatments because the first one got sick. I noticed a difference in the style of the treatment and the results for those two treatments compared to the others!
Betty on September 29, 2011:
I am a beauty therapist & having worked with different CACI therapists it really comes doen to the individual carrying out the treatment. I love CACI as do all my clients but I have definitely worked with therapists that were simply disinterested & in turn have a crap CACI the key is to get a certified CACI therapist not someone trained in house who is going to carry out a weak treatment!! THE DIFFERENCE in a rubbish CACI & an absolutly CACI is the therapist providing the treatment!!
chicagoland esthetician on February 18, 2011:
Hello, I'm a licensed esthetician trained to do CACI facial treatments and I get excellent results for my clients. I take before and after photos of each treatment and at the end of the protocol I have achieved undeniable results for my clients. I do think having photos is very important.
mesothelioma disease on January 18, 2011:
Never heard about CACI, I just read about it here. To me it seems a poor version of phototherapy facial. On the other hand, as said by the poster Hamelin, Flexeffect looks quite a helpful treatment
locksmith jersey city on January 12, 2011:
Hi,Thank's for the sharing it's really helpful and I'm going to look more into it I will google it later on today thank you so MUCH!
Tyler Greiner on January 11, 2011:
Holy cow! You are brave....I would probably get the treatment where it went haywire and actually shot my face full of needles or something. I'm glad it worked though - do they have treatments for other parts that need lifting - like your rear end? Or how about boobs that used to be 38 and are now 38 longs? Good grief! Why is it so much fun to grow older? I guess it beats the alternative though....
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 02, 2010:
Thanks for the tip, Hamelin.
I just did some Googling and found this interesting discussion on facial exercises:
Hamelin on September 02, 2010:
Marisa - you might want to look into Flexeffect. It resculpts your entire face and neck by tightening and building lost muscle tone - the founder who's now 61 or 62 looks amazing and so does many of the fellow 'Flexers'...I'm turning 35 myself but because my face is so build, I actually look like I'm in my early to mid 20s.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on August 04, 2010:
Maria, if you read the Hub again, you'll see that I say there IS clinical evidence CACI has benefits - but it doesn't "lift" your face, which is what most clients and therapists expect.
Personally, I can't see why anyone would put up with the discomfort and expense of CACI, when the Omnilux treatment has exactly the same effect, is completely painless and you can even do it yourself at home.
Maria on August 04, 2010:
Alexandra's comment is the right one,sorry!I did 75 (seventy five!!!) treatment over 7 months on some doctor,just to proof for our self that CACI or similar units with the same parameters ( for unhealthy muscles)will
never work for clents who visited beauty salons and have healthy muscles...Stop treat us therapist and clients like an idiots. Thanks god some of us have more knowledge and we have proper machine for our clentele. Regards
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 28, 2010:
@Skin Care Beauty, there would be no point in doing the "at home" version of CACI since it has the same benefits as the Omnilux treatments I already have. However I have bought an "at home" version of the Omnilux which is great and only cost me the equivalent of three salon sessions:
Skin Care Beauty on July 28, 2010:
Very informative hub Marissa. Would you consider doing the at home version? How does the cost compare to the salon?
Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on July 03, 2010:
Wow. This is a new kind of treatment I know so little about. Thanks for a very informative hub! It's non-invasive, so it is more appealing to people. Cheers!
electricsky from North Georgia on April 20, 2010:
Would like to try it. Thanks for your information.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 04, 2010:
Alexandra,thank you for your honest comment. Like I said, I've tried CACI twice and been disappointed. The results are subtle - a healthy glow, softer wrinkles and plumper skin - whereas most people here that word "facelift" and think it's going to get rid of the sag.
The results do also depend on the skill of the operator.
alexandra_gr on April 04, 2010:
Im a beauty therapist trained in giving Caci Ultimate facials. We offer these treatments where I work and I wanted to just say that I have not seen a difference on any of my clients. Me and my collegues believe it's a rip off and a waste of money. We are told to tell clients they look great to not disapoint them!I think the only opions worth trying are chemical peelS or surgery
Nell Rose from England on March 16, 2010:
Hi, Marisa, I was just looking around for the caci face lift and I found you had written it. The reason is, that I am having it done tomorrow, wednesday, and I was a bit nervous! I have had the home one for ages, and it was quite disconcerting seeing my face jerk about! ha ha, but you have put my mind at rest. I am also having microdermabrasion done, so hopefully I will look fantastic!! yeah right!! thanks for your help with this hub. cheers nell
lyricsingray on February 05, 2010:
Marisa, this was awesome, truly. I certainly learned a lot and now have a bunch of ideas rolling round in my head. You're always an inspiration
Juliette Kando FI Chor from Andalusia, southern Spain on February 04, 2010:
You are so right here Marisa:
"...muscles on your face are no different from muscles on your butt or your belly - if you exercise them, they'll get toned."
The Rope from SE US on February 04, 2010:
:) Marisa, let me know if you try that new spring thing that has just been put on the market for double chins. I'd love to hear your take on how it works.