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Radio Frequency Therapy

Radiofrequency For Facial Rejuvenation background information

The use of electric currents in medicine has been documented almost since electricity itself was discovered.
Radiofrequency (RF) surgery has a lengthy history of use in oral, ophthalmic, plastic, and gynaecological surgery of over 70 years. Gradually, its use in the practice of dermatology, cosmetology, cardiology, neurosurgery, hepatology, and ENT procedures gained momentum and popularity. Low frequency alternating currents are also used in physiotherapy for their ability to cause contractions in muscles. RF surgery traditionally utilizes a wave of electrons to cause frictional heating of tissues to incise, excise, ablate or coagulate the targeted tissue.

However with recent developments in cryogenics (the use of extremely cold substances) and information technology, non-ablative RF energy is the newest addition to the treatment options available for the ageing face. With the introduction of cryogenics it is possible to deliver RF energy to the deep dermis and sub-dermal layers of the skin, whilst protecting the epidermis. Heating in this area, without damaging the outer layers of skin, causes microscopic changes to the tissues and collagen contraction, with subsequent collagen remodelling over the months that pass.

Figures from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) indicate that non-surgical skin tightening was the seventh most common non-surgical cosmetic treatment in the U.S.A. in 2015 with just over 471,700 treatments performed in that year. 

If you are considering an RF treatment, the following information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure. It can't answer all your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the practitioner. Please ask a practitioner about anything you don't understand.
What can Radiofrequency (RF) energy treat?

Pure RF energy alone is primarily used to treat skin laxity by facial tightening, and is best suited to patients with mild to moderate sagging of facial tissues, usually those in their mid thirties to fifties, with any skin colour.

It is commonly used to treat the forehead (lift brows and tightens forehead skin), under the eyes (thickens skin and tightens and lifts the upper cheek skin), cheeks (lifts slightly and diminishes enlarged pores), mid-face, jaw line (diminishes jowling and sagging along the jaw line), and the neck (tightens skin and diminishes wrinkling of the neck).

However, if there is a significant amount of redundant or sagging skin, often seen in older patients over sixty, this procedure may not show a significant enough improvement and a traditional mid-face, face or brow lift operation may be recommended in order to remove the excess skin, therefore achieving a better result.

In combination with other modalities, as we have discussed above, RF can be used to enhance a variety of treatments including hair removal, photorejuvenation, pigmented and vascular problems, acne treatment and cellulite treatment.
What should you do before treatment?

You should try to avoid doing anything that will irritate your skin immediately before treatment. This includes sunbathing (natural or artificial). Practitioners are unlikely to treat someone who has sun burn for example, as they would be more likely to suffer pain from the addition of heat to the already damaged skin; however an established tan would be fine.

Some women find that their skin is more sensitive right before and during their menstrual cycle so if you are a woman, you might want to take this effect on pain threshold into consideration when scheduling your treatment appointment(s).
What happens during a Radiofrequency For Facial Rejuvenation treatment?

Careful discussions regarding your reasons for wanting treatment are very important before you begin the treatment. You must also make sure that this treatment can deliver what you want and how you would like to look afterwards. Your practitioner should be able to answer all these questions.

A medical history should also be taken to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t undertake treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with the procedure.

Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner for a "before and after" comparison at a later date.

Procedure:
You may be required to wash your face with soap and warm water prior to your treatment, in order to remove any makeup and skin oils which could interfere with the application of the RF treatment.
A topical anaesthetic cream may then be applied to your skin a short time prior to treatment, to help numb the skin slightly; this will normally be removed using alcohol cleansers immediately before your clinician commences the procedure
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Depending on the device being used and your practitioner, a “treatment grid” ink transfer may then be applied over your face to assist the practitioner in navigating your face whilst delivering the RF energy; helping to assure an even application of the RF and to prevent inadvertent overlapping of treatment.
Again, dependent of the device being used you may be fitted with a single-use, self-adhesive return pad attached to your stomach or back to ground you; normally with monopolar devices.

A coupling gel may then also be applied over your face which acts as an additional barrier between the surface layers of your skin and the handpiece of the device.

Your clinician will then commence the RF treatment working across your face. Once completed a soothing gel or lotion may be applied to your skin.
How long will it take to recover from Radiofrequency For Facial Rejuvenation?

Some people experience mild redness immediately following treatment (similar to a sunburnt look), but this usually disappears quickly. Most people find that they can return to work and normal activities immediately after treatment.

Depending on your practitioner you may be advised to use certain soothing lotions, creams or gels to lightly apply to the treatment area, or possibly cool, moisturising mists to apply as you feel necessary.
Summary of advice for Radiofrequency For Facial Rejuvenation

RF energy treatment is a new and promising technology for non-surgical tightening of the early signs of loose or sagging skin; ideal for those people who either don’t want, or don’t believe they are old enough to have a surgical procedure to resolve their onset of skin laxity.

Based on current RF technologies available, most people should see at least a mild improvement in their skin tightness, with minimal risks and downtime compared to surgery.

It is difficult to assess the differences in results between the differing RF technologies that are currently available, and as this market place expands, we anticipate seeing many more devices introduced, with newer improved treatment methods and protocols to further enhance patient comfort and results.
Before and After Photos