Radio Frequency for Skin rejuvenation & Hair Removal – Fact Sheet

Our skin is our largest organ and yet often it is overlooked when it comes to care. As we age it becomes very evident how well we’ve looked after our skin.

Sun-induced or environmental damage to the skin is called photoageing, and everyone is susceptible to it. However, those skin types with higher melanin content experience delayed and less severe photoageing. This is due to the photoprotective role of melanin. Lighter-complexioned people are more prone to the effects of ultra-violet (UV) light. It is characterised by fine wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, and freckles and sunspots.

Excess hair is also an extremely common condition affecting both men and women in all age groups. For some the amount of hair increases with age because of hormonal changes, such as with the onset of menopause. For others it is a genetic condition called ‘hirsutism’ caused by an increased level of male hormones. Hirsutism refers to the growth of coarse, dark hair in areas where women typically grow fine hair or none at all: above the lip and on the chin, chest, abdomen and back.

Help however is at hand, today more than ever there are many innovative non-invasive options to counter the consequences of ageing, hormonal changes, and excess hair growth. Radiofrequency (RF) treatment is a new and exciting way to target the deeper layers of the skin. It uses a carefully controlled passing of an electric current that gently penetrates the deeper dermis without upsetting the surface. RF treatment has been combined with other therapies for a variety of purposes. When combined with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) it can reverse photoageing of the skin. This combination of therapies is also useful for hair removal. In conjunction with infra-red light RF produces a skin tightening effect. RF treatment on its own is effective for mild to moderate wrinkles, red and brown spots, and textural irregularities.

Our skin is our largest organ and yet often it is overlooked when it comes to care. As we age it becomes very evident how well we’ve looked after our skin.

Sun-induced or environmental damage to the skin is called photoageing, and everyone is susceptible to it. However, those skin types with higher melanin content experience delayed and less severe photoageing. This is due to the photoprotective role of melanin. Lighter-complexioned people are more prone to the effects of ultra-violet (UV) light. It is characterised by fine wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, and freckles and sunspots.

Excess hair is also an extremely common condition affecting both men and women in all age groups. For some the amount of hair increases with age because of hormonal changes, such as with the onset of menopause. For others it is a genetic condition called ‘hirsutism’ caused by an increased level of male hormones. Hirsutism refers to the growth of coarse, dark hair in areas where women typically grow fine hair or none at all: above the lip and on the chin, chest, abdomen and back.

Help however is at hand, today more than ever there are many innovative non-invasive options to counter the consequences of ageing, hormonal changes, and excess hair growth. Radiofrequency (RF) treatment is a new and exciting way to target the deeper layers of the skin. It uses a carefully controlled passing of an electric current that gently penetrates the deeper dermis without upsetting the surface. RF treatment has been combined with other therapies for a variety of purposes. When combined with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) it can reverse photoageing of the skin. This combination of therapies is also useful for hair removal. In conjunction with infra-red light RF produces a skin tightening effect. RF treatment on its own is effective for mild to moderate wrinkles, red and brown spots, and textural irregularities.

Photo-Rejuvenation with Radiofrequency (RF) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

What is IPL?

A popular technique for improving damaged and ageing skin is IPL together with RF treatment. A high intensity beam of light is generated by passing an electrical current through a chamber filled with (xenon) gas. Deeper elements in the skin absorb this specific light, causing them to heat up, while the outer skin surface is not disrupted. This allows all the photo-rejuvenation (light therapy) action to occur deep in the skin dermis.

Our Elos IPL with RF treatment is the first and only technology that combines light and radio frequency energies to effectively and gently rejuvenate the appearance of the skin. Sometimes, practitioners will use IPL rejuvenation in conjunction with a chemical that acts to sensitise the skin to the effects of IPL. This is termed photodynamic photo-rejuvenation, and can improve results because it increases the absorption of light energy into the target tissue.

How does it work?

IPL devices emit multi-colour, non-focused, broad spectrum light. The pulsing light targets specific coloured elements in the skin and disrupts these cells. Heating the skin causes skin cells to release their pigment, which rises to and is shed from the skin surface. Inflammatory responses are also triggered aiding the removal of old or damaged collagen, and replacing it with new healthy matrix. This leads to at least partial replacement of the skin volume lost with age. The same IPL rejuvenation device can simultaneously treat several kinds of skin problems. It can be used for pigmented areas (eg age spots, sun spots, or unsightly broken capillaries), as well as wrinkles, though the effects on wrinkles are somewhat less dramatic.

What about side effects of IPL treatments?

Recovery is rapid after the procedure, and you may return to work soon after. Most IPL rejuvenation side effects are minor and subside within 24 hours. Temporary itching and redness may be experienced after treatment. There may also be some skin peeling for a few days.

Do not be alarmed if there is a slight darkening of the skin after IPL rejuvenation, and some small crusting. It will quickly settle after old skin cells are pushed to the surface and peel off. Applying a moisturiser twice a day speeds up the process. Therefore those with a darker skin type may not be good candidates for IPL rejuvenation due to the risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When in doubt, a test patch first is recommended. Protect the treated area from the sun for at least two weeks to minimise any risk of pigment changes. Preferably use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, every day, regardless of weather. Also, if you have a susceptibility to scarring this treatment may not be right for you.

Skin Tightening with Radiofrequency (RF) and Infra-red Light

What is RF and Infra-red Light?

Radiofrequency energy is an exciting new way to target the deeper layers of the skin in a carefully controlled manner, without upsetting the surface. The procedure is often alluded to as ‘a non-surgical facelift’ like laser skin care, and used for treating skin laxity and sagging—like chin sagging, the folds around the nose, wrinkles and lines around the mouth and the forehead, excess skin on the upper eyelid or bags under the eyes. Only modest changes are achievable with RF treatment on its own, it works synergistically with conventional ablative laser skin care. Our Refirme skin tightening procedure allows you to attain tight and firm skin without downtime.

How does RF work?

Our skin is resistant to the passage of electricity, thus it heats up when an electric current is passed through it. Radiofrequency treatment like laser skin care works by precise heating of the matrix proteins (mainly collagen) in the skin. This stimulates them to denature, contract and almost immediately tighten lax skin. The outer skin surface stays cool, so it is not affected and remains completely intact. Over the next few months, the heat-damaged matrix is progressively removed by the body and replaced with young, healthy collagen. Ultimately, this leads to stronger, firmer, smoother skin with a more youthful appearance.

What about side effects of radiofrequency treatment?

Radiofrequency treatment is very safe with only minor and temporary side effects. Typical concerns are mild discomfort during the procedure, and redness and swelling afterwards which usually lasts for a couple of hours. A cold compress or an ice pack placed on the treated area will soothe and help to reduce pain and swelling.

There’s little or no downtime and a quick return to normal activities is expected. A soothing restorative cream may be applied following the procedure and continued for several days. Makeup can be applied immediately after treatment as the epidermis is unaffected.

Rarely, patients develop abrasions (crusting) in the treated area. These usually heal or drop off within three to four days. It is rare to experience changes in sensation in the treated area, such as itching or numbness. These symptoms are temporary, usually mild and resolve completely in days to weeks.

Sublative Rejuvenation using Radiofrequency (RF)

What is it?

Over time, our skin’s youthful appearance and texture is affected by the cumulative effects of collagen and moisture loss, as well as sun exposure, and acne. By stimulating collagen production and increasing cell turnover, sublative rejuvenation enables the achievement of a more youthful appearance. It is a type of fractionated skin resurfacing, which means only a fraction of the skin’s surface is subjected to the treatment. There is less surface disruption with smaller entry wounds as compared with fractional laser treatment. This technology has been shown to effectively treat mild to moderate wrinkles, red and brown spots, and textural irregularities. This is truly the next generation of safe and effective technology. However, skin conditions like eczema may preclude some patients from receiving the treatment. For information on fractional laser treatment click on Skin Rejuvenation to be taken to that fact sheet.

How does sublative rejuvenation work?

Radio frequency energy is precisely directed to the upper dermis in an array of tiny matrix spots. As only these spots create tiny wounds, there is just minor surface disruption, and the wounds are already sealed by the completion of treatment. Healthy skin around the spots accelerates the healing process of the affected skin. Post treatment, increased levels of beneficial new collagen and new healthy skin cells are produced. Mild to moderate wrinkles and superficial skin discolouration are reduced. The texture of skin becomes smoother and more elastic.

What about side effects?

Sublative rejuvenation with RF treatment is a very safe and effective solution for all skin types. There is some discomfort, patients feel a warm prickly sensation, and therefore an anaesthetic cream is used which makes the procedure more tolerable. After treatment redness and swelling is experienced reminiscent of a sunburn, which entails recovery time of two to three days. A cold compress or an ice pack placed on the treated area will soothe and help to reduce pain and swelling. A cooling mask, and/or a soothing restorative cream may be applied following the procedure and continued for several days.

Hair Reduction using Radiofrequency (RF) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

How is radiofrequency used to produce long-lasting hair reduction?

Many of the previous options for people seeking to remove or lessen the amount of hair have been painful or have only resulted in short-term effects. Light therapies to remove hair (photoepilation) have long been in use, but have been limited in scope, being less effective on lighter hair (blond, grey, red), as well as on darker skin. New innovations in light therapy, and its combination with other technology have led to procedures that have become very popular in cosmetic dermatology.

The Elos hair reduction procedure employed at our clinic, uses combined RF treatment with IPL energy to target and destroy hair follicles below the skin level. This ensures a reduction of the unwanted hair and a long lasting end result. Achieving beautiful, silky smooth skin is now easier than ever. Elos hair reduction technology combines the best of both therapies for a hair reduction treatment that is both painless and fast.

How does it work?

There is little in the way of preparation required for hair reduction IPL with RF treatment, and it is quite gentle. The patented Elos hand machine combines both IPL and radiofrequency technologies to quickly and safely remove hair in any area. Treatments can include hair removal from face, underarms, legs and the bikini line. Because this method precisely targets hair at the root destroying the follicle, it is more effective and removes hair on a more permanent basis.

The practitioner will simply pass the handpiece over the area from which hair is to be removed. Hair growth is reduced after each treatment. The number of sessions needed for optimal results will depend on hair colour and type, body area and skin tone. A more successful outcome with lighter coloured hair may require more treatments as compared to darker coloured hair. There is minimal discomfort at the time of removal and no after effects. You just have your treatment and go about your day as usual.

A limitation in the long-term removal of unwanted hair using light therapies is the treatment of individuals with dark skin. The light energy has to penetrate through the epidermis before being absorbed by the hair follicle. In people with dark skin, the high melanin concentration in the epidermis absorbs high energies that can lead to complications. The Elos hair reduction system combining the optical energy of IPL with RF, allows for the use of less optical energy as the RF energy facilitates better penetration of the epidermis. The lower amount of optical energy used permits safer treatment of darker skin types.

What about side effects?

The Elos hair reduction treatment is most effective on darker skin, but testing should be done first to gauge the intensity required to obtain the best results. Since both the RF and the IPL light technology only work within the top dermal layers, there is little to be concerned about regarding side effects to this hair removal treatment.

In fact the RF treatment has a skin rejuvenation effect as it produces skin tightening. The IPL acts as a ‘path creator’ for the RF energy, allowing it to effectively reach the tissues it is directed at and deliver its heating effects. When the water molecules in the dermis (underlying layer of the skin) are heated collagen production is stimulated resulting in tighter, younger looking skin.

Many choose to use the Elos hair reduction treatment in conjunction with other skin tightening treatments in nearby areas, or skin rejuvenation treatments as a complement to hair removal in the same or adjacent areas of the face or neck. For further information click on Skin Rejuvenation, and IPL Skin Rejuvenation to link to other fact sheets, or Skin Tightening to link to that treatment page.

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