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Non-surgical ‘electron’ treatment for firmer facial skin
Radiofrequency treatment – commercially available as Accent®, Aurora®, Comet®, Polaris® and ThermaCool® by Thermage® – is a non-surgical cosmetic procedure that uses electrodes to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Radiofrequency (RF) treatment has been used since the 1930s. Generally, it has involved a stream of electrons that is used to incise, excise, ablate or coagulate tissue using the heat it generates. Recent technological developments have lead to the non-ablative use of radiofrequency treatment for reversing the visible signs of ageing. Making use of cryogenics (deep freezing), it is possible for radiofrequency energy to enter the deep dermis and sub-dermal layers of the skin, stimulating the production of skin-revitalising collagen, whilst leaving the epidermis (outer layer of skin) unharmed.
What can radiofrequency treatment do for you?
Radiofrequency treatment is sometimes described as a non-invasive face lift, though its effects are more subtle than a surgical face lift. Common uses for this cosmetic procedure are to lift the brow, tighten the forehead, reduce jowling and to tauten loose, wrinkly skin around the eyes, cheeks and neck. Radiofrequency treatment (under the brand name of Accent, Aurora, Comet, Polaris and ThermaCool by Thermage) is suited to people, of any skin colour, with mild to moderate facial ‘sagging’. Anyone requiring more dramatic results may benefit from a surgical procedure instead.
As one women in her 30s said, “I had the classic shock of looking into the mirror one morning and seeing myself starting to look middle aged. Nothing to horrendous, it just looked like the skin around my eyes and cheeks had lost its vitality. After looking into the options and speaking to my doctor, I opted for radiofrequency treatment. It was quick, straightforward and relatively painless – and it’s given me a few more years of young-looking skin.”
You will not be suitable for the treatment if you have any of the following:
You can discuss your individual suitability for surgery with your practitioner during the initial consultation.
Undergoing radiofrequency treatment
The commercially available devices vary slightly (see below) and are designed for particular applications. In general, however, they will all produce a brief, deep heating sensation as the treatment is delivered to your skin. Some have a built-in cryogenic facility that keeps the skin’s temperature low, making the treatment more comfortable. Prior to embarking on any radiofrequency treatment, it is advisable to avoid damaging the skin by, for instance, sunbathing, as this will increase the sensitivity of the skin, making the procedure quite painful.
ThermaCool® by Thermage®
The only side effects that have been observed are slight discomfort, swelling and redness which will lessen after a few hours. No special attention is necessary after treatment, though your practitioner may suggest applying skin moisturiser and cooling icepacks or similar. As with all cosmetic procedures, it is essential to follow the advice of your practitioner after the procedure to ensure an outcome that is as successful as possible with minimal risk of complications.
Who should carry out radiofrequency treatment?
You should consult your doctor before undertaking the procedure. Radiofrequency treatments and treatments that combine radiofrequency with laser or intense pulsed light are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. It is therefore crucial for you to ensure that your practitioner has undergone the appropriate training, as well as performing the treatment in an establishment licensed by the Healthcare Commission (in the UK).
The cost of radiofrequency procedures depend on the specific type of treatment being provided and the size of the area being treated. Treatments for the face typically cost around £350 per session (or £1,200 - £1,400 for a course of 4 treatments) and £200 (or £1,000 for a course of 6 treatments) for the body. If radiofrequency treatment is something that you are considering, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with your practitioner.
Have your say!
If you've had experience with this procedure then why not leave a comment below and share your thoughts and advice with our readers.