Think of your skin as a layer cake: the deepest layer consists of subcutaneous fat, the middle layer is called the dermis and the outermost layer (the one we see every day) is known as the epidermis. The dermis layer is full of collagen (the stuff in our skin that keeps everything looking plump, firm, and youthful). And beneath the dermis, lies the smooth muscle that's responsible for giving the face contour, expression and movement. Unfortunately, collagen production begins to decline at the age of 25 and it's all downhill from there. In equally disappointing news, the loss of youthful muscle contours in these areas is due to a variety of factors including heredity, gravity, environmental conditions and stress. This explains why as we age, our skin loses firmness and elasticity, which is why things begin to sag and wrinkle in all the wrong places.
Over the years, countless products and devices have come forward promising to nix these wretched wrinkles. In 2002, radio-frequency (RF) therapy was first approved by the FDA for visibly reducing wrinkles around the eyes. Radio-frequency (RF) therapy emits an electrical current through the skin, which in turn heats the lower dermis layer. Applying heat to the dermis layer is believed to stimulate fibroblast activity leading to increased collagen fiber production and replenishment. Increased production of collagen fibers results in mild to moderate tightening of the visible layers of skin.
How it works…
Radio-frequency energy evenly distributed through one or more poles delivers high-frequency electrical energy simultaneously to the dermis layer while still protecting the skin surface. The heating effect causes an instant contraction of the collagen fibers, and increases the metabolism of the fibroblasts thereby accelerating the production of new collagen and elastin fibers. The contraction of collagen fibers and the production of new collagen tighten the skin layers creating smoother, healthier and younger looking skin. The most common side effects of RF therapy are swelling and redness. In rare cases patients have also reported abrasions, blistering, hyperpigmentation, scars, ulcerations, blanching, and purpura (red/purple discolorations).
Who might benefit?
Patients most likely to benefit from an at-home RF therapy (such as the new TriPollar STOP device) are those with fine, superficial lines/wrinkles. When it comes to deep grooves and excessively sagging skin, patients are better off opting for a surgical face-lift. A surgical face-lift corrects the facial structure via removal of excess fat/skin, repositioning of tissue, and (most importantly) the elevation of mid-facial muscles. A full face-lift usually requires approximately 2-4 weeks of downtime for optimal recovery (which can often be difficult for people who have busy schedules). Non-surgical rejuvenation treatments unfortunately cannot achieve the same results as a surgical face-lift, but they may help delay the time at which a face-lift becomes necessary.
Who should avoid it?
Contraindications for radio-frequency therapy is anyone who's had the following: