Radio Frequency (RF)
Radio frequency is the number of oscillations (or waves) per second of the electric and magnetic fields within the radio waves portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is lowest of the electromagnetic radiation frequencies within the spectrum, which itself spans from radio waves, microwaves, infrared, optical (visible light), ultraviolet, x-rays, to gamma rays.
By feeding an alternating current (AC) or voltage through an antenna or electrode, electromagnetic waves can be generated that radiate through space at the speed of light; called radio waves. Radiofrequencies, or radio waves, have wavelengths ranging from less than a centimetre to as long as 100 kilometres.
UK domestic electricity which itself is an alternating current could in theory be used for electrosurgery, however as most people know, contact with this kind of electric current can cause very undesirable effects such as electrocution and uncontrolled neuromuscular (nerve and muscle) stimulation. However, if the frequency of the alternating current is raised above the response time of neuromuscular structures, we find the radiofrequency range which can safely be used for medical/surgical applications.
By applying RF energy to the human body, which can conduct current and therefore act as part of the electrical circuit, any resistance encountered by the energy flow will cause heat to be produced at the site of maximum resistance, which can also be used to cut or coagulate tissue.
RF energy when used for skin tightening is able to penetrate deep into the skin and affect the deeper dermis and subcutaneous layers, causing tightening and improvements to the underlying tissue structure, but with little change in skin texture or fine lines and wrinkling.
The RF treatment heating effect stimulates fat cell reduction and tightens collagen fibres, resulting in a smoother appearance to the skins surface. The key to a successful treatment is to raise the temperature of the deep subcutaneous regions of the skin and maintain that temperature for a few seconds. The hand held wand allows easy treatment of commonly affected areas such as the hips, thighs, stomach and buttocks.
What can Radio Frequency (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.
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 the differences in results between before and after treatments.