Do radiofrequency (RF) skin tightening treatments really work?

Do radiofrequency (RF) skin tightening treatments really work?

Introduction

Sagging skin and wrinkles  are part of the natural aging mechanism, however, can be exacerbated by hereditary qualities or photo-damage resulting from extensive exposure to the sun. Skin laxity typically begins to show in a more pronounced manner around the age of 35 to 40, when the amount and nature of the collagen start to decrease majorly. Collagen forms approximately one-third of the total protein in the human body, and supports the overall structure of the skin and anchor cells, thereby providing elasticity and strength to the skin. The decrease in collagen levels in the body can result in skin losing its flexibility, which can further hamper the appearance and the looks of an individual, especially in the facial and neck regions.  

Radiofrequency (RF) skin tightening is a non-surgical and non-invasive skin tightening and anti-aging treatment procedure. The technique includes utilizing energy waves to warm the deeper layer of the skin, which is also known as dermis. This warmth stimulates the rate at which collagen is produced, and thus this treatment can be ideal for anyone who is experiencing wrinkles, sagging/drooping skin or fine lines in the skin, and for someone who wants to restore a more youthful appearance to their skin. RF treatments for skin can be as effective as surgeries, and hence eliminates the need for you to go under the knife in the pursuit of tighter and more voluminous skin.

How does radiofrequency for skin tightening work? 

During the treatment, a radiofrequency skin tightening device sends alternating currents from the tip of an electrode to the tissues at a frequency between 0.3 and 10 megahertz (MHz). This procedure bypasses the amount of melanin pigment existing in outer layer of the skin, making the treatment  effective for all skin types and color. Radiofrequency skin tightening works by selectively targeting the tissue under the uppermost (epiderma) layer of the skin, the dermis, with radiofrequency energy. The energy generates warmth, which stimulates new collagen production. This procedure additionally triggers fibroplasia, the process during which the body forms new fibrous tissue and stimulates the manufacturing of collagen, causing collagen fibers to become shorter and tenser. During the procedure, the cells that produce collagen are left undamaged. With the new collagen production, skin elasticity is increased and the sagged skin is tightened. (1), (2)

Are Radiofrequency Treatments effective?

Radiofrequency treatments can be ideal for anyone who is experiencing wrinkles, cracks or lines in the skin and who wants to have a younger look on the skin. The RF treatment can be taken by any adult over 18 years of age and is perfectly safe for any skin tone. There might be few exceptions as people with broken capillaries, active acne, rosacea, or metal places, and pregnant women might want to avoid the RF method.

Radiofrequency treatments are often used on multiple areas of the body including the face, neck, abdomen, arms, thighs, knees, and buttocks. Sometimes, radiofrequency treatments are used for body contouring, which includes reduction of fat and tightening of saggy skin and wrinkles.

Radiofrequency based treatments have established their efficacy in multiple clinical studies. Due to their effectiveness and safety, the treatments have been approved by the US FDA for various skin related complications. 

A recently published study, in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, including 62 patients of a novel at-home RF device that utilized multisource phase-controlled radiofrequency technology demonstrated statistically significant enhancement on a Fitzpatrick wrinkle and elastosis scale. The results were compared, based on before and after photographs of all the patients, by three board-certified independent dermatologists.11

Another study conducted in 2017 demonstrated that 24 out of 25 participants who underwent 5 to 8 RF therapy sessions saw an up-gradation in the shape of the body. A total of 23 participants out of 25 were happy to see their results. A study conducted in 2011 on a small group of participants showed that 3 months of RF therapy treatment led to clinically noteworthy enhancements with somewhat, mild to moderate signs of UV damage. A study conducted on 70 middle-aged women in 2018 investigated the effect of radiofrequency skin tightening under eyes to reduce wrinkles. The results showed that over 6 weeks of three treatments significantly decreased their wrinkles. A study conducted in 2017 on 14 middle-aged Asian women observed positive effects from RF treatment in cutting down fat in the lower face. More than 90% of the women, after 5 weeks experienced a reduction in the amount of fat, and 60% of women were satisfied or very satisfied with the outcome.12

Until a few months ago, the majority of the Radiofrequency skin based treatments were conducted at clinics and there was a genuine concern among users about the safety and efficacy of at-home Radiofrequency devices. However, presently, numerous companies provide at-home RF treatment devices. The ongoing advancement of technology has ensured that the at-home radiofrequency devices are as effective as clinical based treatments, if not more, and are very safe as well, if the manual instructions are followed properly.

However, the device you use for Home based treatment is important. Using an inferior quality device to save some dollars might hurt. EvenSkyn's latest and most innovative device to date named EvenSkyn Lumo includes features such a photo rejuvenation, electrical muscle stimulation, and phototherapy beyond the main radiofrequency function, and therefore, helps with skin tightening and anti-wrinkle/anti-aging processes. The device also comes with 5 modes including Photon, ION, ENI + Photon, EMS + Photon, Cool + Photon  which can be used for multiple skin rejuvenation purposes. As with other professional-grade device or in-clinic procedures, the Lumo, although being an at home RF device, tightens sagging skin and over successive sessions lessens the appearance of even the most prominent wrinkles.

Conclusion

Radiofrequency skin tightening procedures are safe and effective in multiple skin related issues and are helpful in reducing ageing effects. The clinical efficacy and safety of these procedures has been well established by multiple clinical studies in the past. Because of this, the adoption of these RF based skin tightening and anti-ageing treatments is on rise and the trend is expected to sustain in the near to long term as well. The acceptance of US FDA to these devices further adds credibility to the Radiofrequency treatment protocol.9


Sources:

  1. https://dermcollective.com/radio-frequency-skin-tightening/ 
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/radio-frequency-skin-tightening#benefits 
  3. https://dermcollective.com/radio-frequency-skin-tightening/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5404777/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360959/
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/lsm.22676
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/radio-frequency-skin-tightening#benefits
  8. https://dermcollective.com/radio-frequency-skin-tightening/
  9. https://dermcollective.com/radio-frequency-skin-tightening/
  10. http://www.drmarthastewart.com/radiofrequency-wrinkle-reduction
  11. https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/89359/aesthetic-dermatology/home-radiofrequency-devices
  12. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/radio-frequency-skin-tightening

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