How do Radiofrequency Skin Tightening Devices Work?

Sagging skin and wrinkles are an unfortunate part of aging. Until recently, the only option to combat this was a surgical facelift. However, there are now non-surgical solutions available, such as radiofrequency skin tightening treatments. There are even RF devices that allow tighten your skin in the comfort of your own home.

How do RF Devices Tighten Skin?

Radiofrequency (RF) machines can be used in a spa or clinic setting, or as a hand-held device at home. The technology they use is the same.

RF devices use radio waves to create an electrical current that is absorbed by the tissues. The radio waves use the tissue’s natural resistance, which turns the Radiofrequency energy into kinetic thermal energy.

The heat produced by this process causes the existing collagen to contract and tighten and induces neocollagenesis, the creation of new collagen. The tightening of existing collagen and the creation of new fibers causes the outer skin to tighten, reducing fine lines and wrinkles as well as the appearance of cellulite on the body.

RF Delivery Systems

Over the years different systems of delivering radiofrequency treatments have been developed and improved on.

Monopolar RF

This was the original radiofrequency delivery system. A single electrode was applied to the treatment area and an opposing electrode was placed in a farther spot on the body. This allowed the current to penetrate deeper into the body and the treated area was heated more deeply as will, which posed some risks. Newer Monolpolar devices are said to have improved on this.

Bipolar RF + Laser/Light

This delivery system uses two closely positioned electrodes, meaning the current goes through a smaller, shallower area. This treatment is gentler than Monopolar RF, but also produces less noticeable results.

Bipolar RF is often combined with laser or pulsed light to achieve better results.

Fractional Bipolar RF

This delivery system was designed to improve the benefits of Bipolar RF treatments and is based on the methods of laser treatments. The energy is directed to treat small, discontinuous areas on the skin in a grid pattern. This allows treatment with greater energy density without increasing the risks of side effects.

Silk’n RF

This delivery system combines the benefits of Monopolar and Bipolar RF treatments. These devices contain electrodes from both systems and simultaneous application can reduce side effects and give a more noticeable result when tightening skin with RF devices.

Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Clinical Studies

“Clinical and histopathological study of the Silk’n home-use device for body treatments,” European Journal of Dermatology
S. Boisnc, MC Branchet, O. Birnstiel, G. Beilin

This clinical study looked at the effectiveness of the Silk’n home device for treatment of the body.

“Home-use Silk’n RF device for facial skin tightening: Clinical study results,” Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy
G. Beilin

This report details the results of the clinical study on the effectiveness of the Silk’n home device for facial skin tightening.

“Non-Surgical Radiofrequency Facelift,” The Journal of Drugs and Dermatology
David J. Narins, MD & Rhoda S. Narvins, MD

This clinical study looked at the effectiveness and safety of Radiofrequency treatments on the jowls and brow.

“Update on Tissue Tightening,” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology
Mixhael H. Gold, MD

This report looks at the safety and effectiveness of newer non-invasive skin tightening devices, including radiofrequency machines.

“Objective Assessment of skin Tightening Using Multisource, Phase-Controlled Radiofrequency in Asians,” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications
Yohei Tanaka

This clinical study looked at the efficacy and safety of using radiofrequency treatments on the skin of Asian people.