All About Radio Frequency Skin Tightening

Last Reviewed on April 15, 2022 by Alice Pien, MD & Asher Milgrom, PhD

Radio frequency microneedling is an RF based technology that helps with skin tightening.

Radio frequency microneedling is an RF based technology that helps with skin tightening.

More than 14 million people a year visit plastic surgeons to have some form of surgical skin tightening performed. While not as effective as the surgical options, the less invasive and “cutting edge” technology of radio frequency skin tightening is a great alternative for patients with mild to moderate signs of aging.

Radio frequency technologies have been around in some form or another for about 100 years. Over the past decade they have come to be a major player in the aesthetic market due to their impressive results, minimal recovery time and high level of safety. 

Another great benefit of RF technologies is that they do not operate on a light basis making them “color-blind”. They can be used on patients of any skin color or type. 

What Is Radio Frequency Skin Tightening?

Radio frequency skin tightening penetrates down into the skin using heat generated by the RF energy. Studies have shown that this causes a microinflammatory process in the skin that stimulates the generation of healthy new collagen. 

Collagen is the tissue that is most responsible for the youthful appearance of our skin. By generating new healthy collagen, RF treatments reduce wrinkles and sagging jawlines, improve skin laxity and can tighten the overall appearance of the skin.

What Areas of the Body can be Treated?

Radio frequency skin tightening can be performed almost anywhere. The most popular areas are:

  • Face (sagging jowls, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, brow lifting, cheek laxity)
  • Neck (turkey-neck)
  • Arms
  • Stomach
  • Thighs
  • Knees

The number of treatments needed to see results will vary from patient to patient depending on that patient’s unique physiological response to the RF energy. Some patient’s start to see results after the first treatment. Typically 4 to 12 treatments are needed to see fantastic results.  

How Does Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Work?

The energy from radio frequency devices is delivered to the tissue by specialized electrodes in an alternating wavelength current. The electrical charge or polarity of the skin is changed as the energy travels across the tissue. The energy current causes friction, which creates heat, that causes physiologic changes in the epidermis or dermis.

Watch the video : Radio Frequency Skin Tightening with the Fractora Firm

Monopolar Devices

Radio frequency current always flows between two electrodes having opposite polarity. Monopolar devices use a single electrode applied at the treatment area and a dispersive electrode that is worn by the client. During the procedure the RF energy travels across the body and returns back to the device by way of the dispersive electrode.

Monopolar devices have the ability to concentrate the energy on a very small area and are most commonly used for tissue cutting and ablation.

Bipolar Devices

Radio frequency devices that are “bipolar” travel more superficially across the tissue. They are considered electrosurgical devices in which the RF energy flows between two active electrodes, placed closed together, contained in the tip of the hand piece. The advantage of bipolar devices is the localization of all RF energy in the area being treated.

RFAL (radio frequency assisted lipolysis)

RFAL combines features of both monopolar and bipolar technologies. It creates a very specific energy profile that treats subcutaneous fat, connective tissue and the dermis at the same time. The RF current flows back an forth from the external electrode, that moves across the surface of the skin, to the much smaller internal electrode.

RFAL is the preferred treatment for patients with saggy or excessive skin.

RF Microneedling

RF Microneedling is another RF based technology that helps with skin tightening. Needle sized RF electrodes are used for ablation of micro-spots (fractional treatment) and send RF energy throughout the entire dermis. The heating adds a skin tightening effect to the improvement in skin texture and fine lines the fractional treatment produces.

The RF Microneedling technology was originally developed for treatment of the face and neck but is now commonly used on the body as well. Treatments are very tolerable, have a low risk of side effects and the healing time is fast.

The Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Treatment

Prior to the radio frequency skin tightening treatment a topical anesthetic is applied to the area to be treated. This is left on for approximately 60 minutes. The anesthetic is completely wiped off just before the treatment begins.

Watch the video : Radio Frequency Collagen Stimulation and Production

At the start of the treatment an ultrasound gel is applied to the area being treated. This helps the RF hand piece glide smoothly over the skin. As the hand piece is maneuvered over the area being treated, RF energies are delivered to the dermis layers of the skin. This causes localized heating which promotes collagen contraction. To protect the skin surface from damage or burn, some devices utilize a cooling attachment.

The typical treatment can last from thirty minutes up to one hour. Treatment time is dependent on the size of the area being treated as well as the condition of the skin.

Most patients report a warming sensation during treatment with no pain. Radio frequency skin tightening is known for its zero downtime and quick recovery with the majority of patients returning to normal activities right after the treatment.

What Results can I Expect?

Some patients report seeing results immediately after the treatment. The most visible results tend to appear as the collagen contraction process evolves with results continuing to improve over the next couple of months.

Before and after photo of radio frequency skin tightening on the neck.

Before and after photo of radio frequency skin tightening on the neck.

Multiple treatments are usually recommended to enhance the results.

How to Choose the Right Provider

Whenever you are looking for a provider to perform a cosmetic procedure it is imperative that you do your due diligence. This is your body that they will be performing the radio frequency skin tightening procedure on. You only have one! This is not something you want to go with the lowest price. Experience, experience, experience!

Make sure you find a reputable provider that has before and after images of actual patients that they can show you. The photos will also be a good visual representation of the results you can expect from the procedure. 

Last but not least, speak with other patients that have had the same procedure with that provider. Their staff should have no problem connecting you with 2 or 3 previous patients. If they are unable to connect you with previous patients it’s a major red flag. 

How to Start Tightening Skin Today

The first step to start the process of getting radio frequency skin tightening is contacting a provider and scheduling an initial consultation. The initial consultation is an hour long learning session about radio frequency skin tightening with a doctor. How the procedure works, what results can be expected, are there other procedures that may better get the desired results? You will also have the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions they may have.

Following the consultation, if it is determined that radio frequency skin tightening is the best procedure for you, the procedure can usually be scheduled that same day. 

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References

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