| The magic radio frequency facials that tighten skin and give you long-lasting, age-fighting results.
If you have been considering a Radio Frequency treatment – a key, non-invasive way of skin tightening to target sagging and wrinkles – it’s important that you understand everything involved. Like with all aesthetic treatments, you should have note of questions that you want to ask your potential clinician. This is especially important with Radio Frequency, as so many at-home devices have launched onto the market. It's vital to understand the difference between these and an in-clinic treatment before you part with your cash. I spoke to Caroline Fogg at A.R.A Aesthetics Medispa in Wirral near Liverpool, and Dr Rita Rakus from the Dr Rita Rakus Clinic in Knightsbridge, London to get you the lowdown on all things Radio Frequency.
What is a Radio Frequency facial and what does it do?
CF: A Radio Frequency facial is a non-invasive skin tightening treatment. The treatment targets nasal folds, lines and wrinkles around the eyes, slack jaw line, as well as neck and mouth creases. It is also excellent at treating acne and open pores on the face.
The effects of Radio Frequency treatments are mostly attributable to the heat that is generated by the RF waves. RF waves are most commonly used for facial rejuvenation and their ability to stimulate the protein fibres that keep the skin elastic.
Radio Frequency devices for facial rejuvenation come in all shapes, sizes and depths. Bipolar or Multi Polar Radio Frequency is used - which is 2 or more electrodes in the same hand piece - and is then manoeuvred over the your skin via a gel, heating the skin to 42 degrees celsius to create a healing effect.
Once the skin has reached 42 c it then causes friction in the water molecules in the skin, causing thermal injury. The heat and friction caused sends a message to the brain that the skin is getting damaged, so in a way we are performing a controlled wound on the skin. The brain will then send fresh collagen to the face, encouraging skin healing. During the treatment, the RF waves penetrate the skin to tighten from the inside out. They stimulate fresh fibroblast production, which will trigger fresh collagen production, which results in tighter more taut skin that is noticeably more youthful. A Radio Frequency facial is one of the most comfortable aesthetic skin tightening treatments and has been compared to having a hot stone massage on the face. It can be very relaxing for some clients.
RR: Radio Frequency Facials are non-invasive and pain-free. The facial is performed with a radio-frequency device which is computer-controlled, and is guided over the specific treatment area. The device, focuses energy on the targeted area, at the targeted depth of penetration. By causing the collagen supporting tissues to remodel, the treatment stimulates and strengthens the collagen network to improve skin laxity and texture. Treatments such as the BTL Exilis Ultra uses a similar technique, providing fast and effective skin tightening and targeting of wrinkle prone areas.
Who is the treatment suitable for and who should avoid it?
CF: Radio Frequency is one of the safest, least invasive and yet most effective non-invasive treatment available to people of all skin colours, for rejuvenating, lifting and tightening skin. The treatment is loved by men and woman aged 40 and over, but is also very popular with younger clients who want to glow and look their best for a night out. It can be performed as a one-off treatment, or more popularly, a course of 6-10 treatments (depending on age and skin laxity). In our early 20s, we have plenty of collagen in our skin. However, with age our collagen production decreases, so that by the time we reach our mid 40s it is barely in production. Due to the lack of collagen, we notice our skin loses its elasticity, sags and forms lines and wrinkles.
Radio Frequency treatment is not suitable for clients who are epileptic, diabetic, have pace makers, skin disorders or skin diseases, highly sensitive skin, or dermal fillers. Also, if you have had anti-wrinkle injections you must wait a month before having Radio Frequency.
RR: Radio Frequency facials such as BTL Exilis are recommended for everyone between the ages of 25-70+ - anyone who desires non-invasive cosmetic enhancement. Not only do they target the face, but they can be focused on any part of the body that requires skin tightening, such as areas of cellulite. However, those who have pacemakers or who are pregnant and nursing, we would not recommend the treatment.
Does Radio Frequency hurt and does it have any side effects?
CF: You may experience some redness and swelling in the treated area after a Radio Frequency skin tightening procedure, but these symptoms should resolve themselves within 24- 48 hours. Misting the face with cool water may help to reduce irritation, although you should ensure that only clean, purified water is used for this purpose. Radio Frequency treatments have a low instance of side effects and are considered a viable anti-ageing treatment for a wide array of skin types.
RR: Radio Frequency facials do not hurt as they are non-invasive. A patient will experience a warming sensation during the treatment and some redness may appear but this only lasts 15-30 minutes after the treatment.
How many treatments are needed to see a result?
CF: After just one Radio Frequency treatment, a noticeable difference can be seen; although for long lasting skin tightening results, a course of 6-10 treatments are needed to see optimal results. Treatments can be performed 2 times per week or once a week until the end of the course. The skin keeps looking fresher and tighter as the weeks go by, as more collagen is getting produced in the skin and the elastin fibres tighten up. Keep in mind that multiple Radio Frequency procedures are needed to show the best results. Once course is finishes, a maintenance treatment is needed every 2-3 months, depending on age. For expert results, avoid low-powered at home devices.
RR: We would recommend that a patient completes a full course of Radio Frequency facials. Depending, on which type of facial is undertaken, we would suggest four to six sessions, spread over a fortnightly basis. Patients show continued results for at least six months after the treatment.
What do you think of at-home Radio Frequency devices?
CF: At-home Radio Frequency devices are not powerful enough to produce long-term tightening effects. A rejuvenation and some tightening can be seen with the treatment for a day or 2, but then skin goes back to normal. For more mature clients with deeper lines and wrinkles, the power of the device will not be effective enough, but could be a nice treatment for girls in their late 20s.
RR: At-home Radio Frequency facial devices use a much lower frequency than the Radio Frequency facials available at Dr Rita Rakus’ Clinic. At-home Radio Frequency facial devices, aren’t able to penetrate the skin as much as treatments conducted by a professional would. Resulting in effects being lack-lustre and non-permanent.
It’s very important if you are considering any type of aesthetic treatment that you speak to a number of practitioners before deciding on the one who you feel is best for you. Different clinicians have different opinions and different ways of working, so this is vital.
Main Image - via Wikimedia Creative Commons | Other Images - Dr Rita Rakus Clinic