IT’S NON-SURGICAL AND USED IN PARTICULAR TO TARGET SAGGING SKIN – HOW DOES RADIOFREQUENCY TREATMENT WORK, WHY IS IT SUCH A LONG GAME, AND WHO SHOULD STAY AWAY?
Radiofrequency treatment: It may not sound exciting when it comes to facials, but radiofrequency treatments have a long history of tightening and firming the skin. Cooled Radiofrequency treatments, including laser and LED treatments, use heat to stimulate collagen and elastin development, but the heat is electrical rather than light-based. Here’s a quick primer on radiofrequency, including what it is and isn’t good for.
So, what does Cooled Radiofrequency Skin Treatment really do?
IT TARGETS SAGGY SKIN
Dr. Stefanie Williams, a specialist dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Eudelo, explains why radiofrequency is appealing because it is a non-invasive and relatively gentle way to tighten skin:
“Radiofrequency (RF) is a common treatment that uses radiofrequency energy to heat the dermis and tighten the skin without damaging the top layer.”
According to facial plastic surgeon Dr. Maryam Zamani, not all Cooled radiofrequency machines function in the same way (the most popular devices are Thermage and Pellevé), but they all use radiofrequency energy “to tighten the underlying skin structure and contour the face to produce firm, toned, and youthful looking skin.” Radiofrequency is particularly effective at tightening and firming loose skin on the neck and jaw, as well as wrinkles and lines that form between the nose and mouth, due to the increased collagen and elastin synthesis.
IT’S A LUNCH BREAK THING
According to Dr. Zamani, the typical radiofrequency treatment takes between 20 and 45 minutes, and there is very little downtime – you may feel some redness for up to 24 hours afterward, but that’s it. A machine can heat the skin to a comfortable 38-40 degrees during the procedure (our editorial director Victoria reported zero discomfort although some people are more sensitive to the deep heat sensation than others).
IT CAN BE USED ON THE BODY
Radiofrequency treatments will “smooth out stretch marks and tighten areas of loose skin,” according to skincare expert Paula Begoun, making them suitable for your ass as well as your face. Dr. Williams explains why radiofrequency is used in her Eudelo Body treatment:
“Unlike some other fat reduction techniques, this procedure is painless, requires no downtime, and produces an even, feathered outcome without the surface irregularities that other technologies can cause.
“Mechanisms of action include inducing fat cells to commit suicide (adipocyte apoptosis) after being treated with selective radiofrequency.”
Dr. Williams emphasises that the procedure is best for upper and lower abs, inner and outer thighs, and upper arms, although Dr. Zamani adds that it can also help with upper arms. Some people swear by it for may the presence of cellulite as well. When used to treat the body, radiofrequency is usually applied at a higher temperature, but if your aesthetician doesn’t obey Dr. Williams’ instructions (which also apply to your face), run like the wind:
“During the procedure, the skin temperature should be measured to ensure that it is high enough to provide meaningful benefits without causing problems like burns.”
IT’S A GOER FOR MOST OF US
Miss Sherina Balaratnam, surgeon, cosmetic doctor, and founder of S-Thetics, has seen an uptick in both men and women seeking radiofrequency treatments, which she attributes to “a desire to sculpt problem areas while avoiding discomfort and long periods of downtime,” as well as the fact that most of us can benefit:
“The appeal of radiofrequency is that it is ideal for almost everyone; the depth of heating helps to firm, tighten, and raise skin while also reinvigorating it for a healthy glow.”
This ‘glow’ is due to the fact that radiofrequency treatments tend to boost collagen output over time, but bear in mind the time factor…
IT IS NOT AN EASY FIX
It isn’t a miraculous cure-all, and it takes time to function, as with most things in life. Victoria saw no change in contouring or lifting after only one injection, which aligns with Dr. Williams’ recommendation to go slow and steady:
“All energy-based bio-stimulative therapies, by their very nature, necessitate a series of sessions (ranging from six to twelve) and will produce results progressively over several months. Consider joining a skin gym: excellent results are rarely obtained in a single session.”
Miss Balaratnam recommends getting treatments every three to four days, but if you have treatments every week, you can see results in around a month.
IT’S NOT ADVISABLE IF YOU HAVE ROSACEA.
If you have rosacea, it’s likely to cause more inflammation and make redness worse, and it’s not recommended if you have damaged blood vessels or capillaries because it’s a heat-based treatment. It’s also not recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, as is the case for most cosmetic treatments.
IT IS EXPENSIVE
When you figure in the fact that you’ll at least six treatments at regular intervals, it’s fair to say that radiofrequency is a significant investment – Dr Balaratnam quotes £200 a session, with the recommended course of six coming in at £1200. The procedure itself may not be painful, but the cost is undeniably high.
At-home radiofrequency tools have become increasingly common in recent months. At-home tools work in the same way as in-clinic treatments, stimulating collagen production within the skin and with regular use will lift and tighten the skin.
If you’re used to radio-frequency in-salon you’ll find at home tools aren’t as hot as those treatments, though you will feel some warmth when using them. Check out our edit of the best at-home radiofrequency tools to find the right one for you.