Radiofrequency, or RF, is a non-surgical skin tightening treatment that works to correct loose, crepe-y skin and uneven texture using heat. Simply put, RF targets energy below the epidermis to stimulate collagen and elastin production. It is recommended for patients with mild to moderate signs of aging on the face, neck, or body. Since RF is stimulating new collagen, it has the potential to help with sun damage as well. Radiofrequency skin tightening has become increasingly popular since its launch in 2001; it is one of the most highly requested anti-aging treatments in the industry.
Probably the most frequently asked question about RF therapy is: does it hurt? The short answer is no. Patients will experience mild discomfort accompanied by some heat during the procedure. The dermis (deeper layer of the skin) is heated to between 115-167°F (46-75°C) while the epidermis is cooled for protection. Although this seems like very high temperature, the heat is only prolonged for minutes at a time in order to produce new collagen fibers. Because RF is non-surgical, there is no downtime. Results will be seen gradually-collagen does not grow overnight!
The effects of Radiofrequency can expect to be seen over the next few months as the skin produces brand new collagen. Multiple treatments may be needed to achieve the best outcome. The amount of treatments required completely depends on the condition of the area being treated. It is up to the provider to decide the appropriate protocol. Patients with more lax skin may need multiple, stronger treatments than someone looking to address mild skin concerns.
Below, we will discuss the differences between monopolar, bipolar, and multipolar radiofrequency. While they are all effective, it is important to understand the differences.
Monopolar: This version of RF is able to travel all the way through the skin layers, right down to subcutaneous fat deposits. Since the active poles are farther apart, the current must travel all the way to the opposite pole and back again. Monopolar allows the provider to treat the deepest out of the three technologies.
Bipolar: Contrary to monopolar, the poles in Bipolar RF are very close together. This makes the energy’s travel time much shorter. The epidermis is absorbing most of the current meaning this technology is more superficial. This does not make it inferior to monopolar, just different. Each modality has a different goal. Some patients may not want/need a monopolar type treatment, making bipolar an excellent, less-invasive option.
Multipolar: Multipolar RF may not make much sense at first since there are only two poles in electricity (+ and -). However, with tripolar radiofrequency, the two poles are combined with three electrodes resulting in more uniform heating. Similar to bipolar, this technology works mainly at the surface.
Patients love this treatment because of its ability to stimulate brand new collagen. Because it is non-invasive, RF can be performed on almost anyone looking to improve the quality of their skin. Radiofrequency skin tightening is the epitome of anti-aging: it delivers natural-looking results in a short amount of time.