Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Radio Frequency Skin Tightening 101: What Should You Know? - Eugenie Brunner, M.D., F.A.C.S

Radio frequency therapy is a non-invasive procedure for skin tightening and rejuvenation. It’s an excellent alternative to surgery that requires little to no downtime.

What is radio frequency?

Radio frequency refers to safe levels of electromagnetic waves that generate heat. Specially designed devices deliver this energy to the skin’s lower layer, known as the dermis, and cause micro-injuries.

How does radio frequency skin tightening work?

Radio frequency skin tightening treatments emit radio frequency energy to create controlled injuries in the dermis. The body’s healing response leads to collagen and elastin production, which are building blocks for the skin. This skin regeneration improves skin laxity, decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and increases cell turnover to cause the skin to become smoother and firmer over time.

Radio frequency skin tightening can also be used for facial contouring (slimming the face and enhancing the jawline).

 What can RF skin tightening help?

  1. Tightening and lifting
    Lines, wrinkles, and crepey skin are common signs of aging on the face and neck. RF energy treatments encourage collagen production to support the skin and produce a smoother texture. It reduces lines and wrinkles, tightens skin, and lifts sagging skin for a youthful appearance.
  2. Skin retexturizing
    When combined with microneedling, RF energy stimulates skin cell turnover and regeneration to reduce the appearance of acne scarring and help achieve smoother skin with a more even tone.
  3. Contouring
    Some RF treatments can enhance facial contours to achieve a youthful facial profile.

Types of radiofrequency for skin tightening

  • Monopolar
    Monopolar or unipolar refers to RF devices that have one electrode. The current from the machine is delivered to the treatment area through a single electrode, which heats the skin. It comes with a grounding pad placed on the patient’s body surface to provide a path for the current to flow back to the machine and complete the circuit.
  • Bipolar
    Bipolar refers to RF devices with two electrodes. The current from the machine is delivered to the treatment area by two electrodes on the handpiece. These electrodes work to begin and complete the electric circuit, preventing the flow of current to the rest of the body.
  • Fractional
    Fractional RF is the newer technology developed for RF therapy. The RF system includes microneedles to produce controlled injuries and help stimulate collagen production.

Can I have RF skin treatments?

RF skin treatments are ideal for those who want to improve their skin’s health and address signs of aging without surgery. You can have RF skin treatments to treat the following conditions:

  • Wrinkles
  • Sagging skin
  • Dull skin tone
  • Acne scarring
  • Uneven tone or texture

How to prepare for a radiofrequency facial treatment?

For at least two weeks before your procedure:

  • Avoid sun exposure.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid chemical peels or laser resurfacing procedures.
  • Avoid using topical creams that can cause skin irritation.
  • Avoid taking blood-thinning medications.

Other pre-treatment instructions:

  • Avoid alcohol 24 hours before treatment.
  • Don’t wear make-up or apply cream or lotion on the treatment area on the day of treatment.
  • Inform your physician if you have a history of cold sores.

What does RF facial feel like?

A radio frequency facial will feel hot but never burning or painful. Most patients describe the experience as like a hot stone face massage.

Dr. Brunner uses topical numbing cream and protective gels to ensure a more comfortable treatment experience. Pro-Nox™, a nitrous oxide inhalant, is also available to relieve any discomfort and keep you calm and relaxed during the procedure.

Possible side effects

You may experience mild redness, swelling, and pinpoint bleeding after the procedure, but these side effects should resolve within 24 hours.

How long does RF skin tightening last?

With proper skin care, the effects of RF skin tightening can last for one to three years. Maintenance radio frequency treatments are recommended for long-lasting results.

Does RF skin tightening really work?

Clinical studies demonstrate the efficacy of radio frequency for skin tightening. One study on RF facial rejuvenation concluded that RF treatments produced noticeable clinical results with high satisfaction in the treatment of photoaging.

Professional RF treatment vs. At-home

There are many differences between professional and at-home RF treatments.

Professional RF Treatment:

  • Performed by an experienced provider
  • More effective results
  • Safer than home treatments
  • May deliver longer-lasting results
  • Higher up-front cost.

At-Home RF Treatment:

  • Performed by an unqualified person
  • Can be dangerous 
  • May not deliver effective results
  • Requires more treatments
  • Lower up-front cost
professional rf treatments vs at home rf treatments infographic

What else to know about RF skin tightening?

Radio frequency therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for skin tightening. It is also safe for all skin types and skin tones, though patients with darker skin tones, in general, are at a higher risk of side effects from RF and laser treatments.

RF treatments generally involve minimal recovery time. The treatment area may feel sore and tender, and any bruising or swelling should fade within 24 hours.

The number of treatments needed depends on the severity of signs of aging. Typically, most patients will require at least three sessions to achieve their ideal results.

The cost of radio frequency skin tightening in Princeton, NJ, depends on the skin issue being treated, the number and size of treatment areas, the device/s used, and your treatment plan. Dr. Brunner will determine the cost during your consultation.

RF Devices available at our Princeton office

  • Evoke uses hands-free applicators to deliver RF energy to remodel tissue, reposition fat, and tighten skin at the cheeks, jawline, jowls, and neck.
  • Fractora RF combines RF energy with microneedling to tighten and resurface the skin, helping to reduce fine lines and acne scarring.
  • Morpheus8 is penetrates the skin’s deeper layers, resulting in more robust collagen production and skin tightening.
  • EmbraceRF combines Morpheus8 and FaceTite. The procedure involves inserting a cannula with an internal electrode through a small incision to tighten the jowls and address double chins and skin laxity of the lower face and neck.

These procedures may also be combined with other cosmetic services like laser resurfacing and injectables.

Schedule Your Radio Frequency Skin Tightening in Princeton, NJ

To determine which RF skin tightening procedure can help you achieve your skin goals, contact our Princeton, NJ, office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brunner.