Everything You Need To Know About RF Microneedling

Written by Arshiya Syeda

Science is constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to address common skin issues such as wrinkles, sagging skin, scars, and discoloration. Radiofrequency microneedling or RF microneedling is among the latest technology that is giving women worldwide the smooth and blemish-free skin that they desire.

RF microneedling is being touted as the revolutionary skin care treatment that resolves several common skin woes. Are you curious to learn more about radiofrequency microneedling and what it can do for you? Here is a complete guide that will answer every question you have about RF treatment.

What Is RF Microneedling?

RF microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that leverages the skin’s ability to heal itself. It is a non-invasive treatment that combines radiofrequency energy with the collagen-inducing effect of microneedling (1).

Your skin is constantly adapting to the conditions to which you expose it. While it can recover to a certain extent from the damage, at times, the rate at which your skin repairs itself is not enough. When this happens, you need to encourage your skin to speed up its healing process.

With RF microneedling, you are essentially damaging your skin at a microscopic level. The damage stimulates the skin to produce more collagen and replace the tissue. And, voila! You get a new skin that is smoother and free from blemishes. Radiofrequency microneedling is an extremely beneficial treatment that can prove to be the answer to many skin issues.

Let us get into a more in-depth understanding below!

What Does RF Microneedling Do?

To understand the working of microneedling and RF treatment together and how they deliver the desired results, one has to understand how the skin heals itself. RF microneedling rejuvenates your skin by forcing it to make more collagen and elastin. It does so using a two-pronged approach, which is as follows:

1. Microneedling

RF microneedling devices create small injuries on your skin to resurface it. The injuries are evenly spaced. These injuries are microscopic, with an average depth of 0.5 to 3.5 mm, and not visible to the naked eye. However, your body does feel these injuries, and it initiates the healing process. In response, your body produces more collagen and elastin to heal the wound.

These compounds are produced regularly by your body to maintain your skin and help it heal from regular wear and tear. However, the amount it produces regularly is not enough to prevent wrinkles or fade scars. The microneedling procedure induces a fresh dose of collagen and elastin. These compounds then start repairing your skin by producing a new layer that is tighter and has fewer blemishes (2).

2. RF Treatment

The needles used for microneedling reach the middle layer of your skin or the dermis. In RF microneedling, the needles also deliver a dose of radiofrequency energy straight to the dermis. The energy generates heat in the dermis. The heat causes the skin to tighten as the collagen fibers in the dermis contract. In addition to this, it further boosts collagen production in the dermis (3).

In essence, you are tricking your body into believing that it is injured to initiate the skin regeneration process. And, the introduction of radiofrequency increases the efficacy of the regular microneedling procedure.

Now, you must be curious about whether this treatment is worth it and what its benefits are. Let us check out the benefits of RF microneedling in the next section.

What Are The Benefits Of RF Microneedling?

RF microneedling offers a host of general benefits that make it the preferred treatment method for men and women of all ages.

  • It is a non-invasive and non-surgical procedure.
  • The downtime after the procedure is very less. You can go back to your routine life within a day or so. Plus, it only requires 3-4 sittings, after which you can start seeing the results.
  • It is more effective than traditional microneedling or RF treatment. Since it is a combination of both, it delivers the benefits of both microneedling and RF treatment.
  • You can get RF microneedling treatment irrespective of your skin tone. There is no risk of burning or scarring.
  • The risk of side effects is very low for the radiofrequency microneedling treatment.

In short, RF microneedling is one of the safest and most effective ways to get rid of skin imperfections. More importantly, you can enjoy the following evidence-backed benefits from the procedure:

1. Fades Acne Scars And Stretch Marks

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery discovered that RF microneedling reduced the visibility of acne scars in all 31 participants (4). While 29% of these showed minimal improvements, 58% showed moderate improvement, with 9% and 3% displaying good and very good improvements, respectively (4).

A similar discovery was made in a small study that found it to be efficient in reducing atrophic acne scars (5). The same principle also applies to stretch marks.

2. Rapid Skin Turnover

The primary science behind the process revolves around inflicting micro-injuries to the skin to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to build a new layer of skin. Hence, it goes without saying that RF microneedling increases the skin cells’ turnover rate, blessing you with youthful and flawless skin. As a result, RF microneedling also improves skin texture, quality, and pore size (6).

3. Reverses The Signs Of Aging

RF microneedling can also reduce the signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and loose skin (7). Studies have found RF microneedling to be more effective than botox injections for reducing wrinkles around the eyes. Moreover, the effect of RF microneedling also lasts longer (8).

4. Treats Hyperhidrosis

If you have hyperhidrosis, a condition that makes you sweat more, then radio frequency microneedling can come to your rescue. Pilot studies conducted in 2013 and 2019 indicate that RF microneedling can regulate sweating and even reduce the size or number of sweat glands (9), (10).

Are you curious to know if you can derive any or all of the benefits listed above? Read on to find out!

Who Can Do RF Microneedling?

A good candidate for RF microneedling is someone who wants to get rid of minor skin imperfections such as loose skin, sun spots, acne scars, spider veins, enlarged pores, stretch marks, dull complexion, and wrinkles.

You can get RF microneedling treatment irrespective of your skin type or color. Unlike certain other skin resurfacing treatments that are not effective on darker skin tones, anyone can benefit from RF microneedling.

However, you need to set realistic and attainable skin goals.

It is also worth noting that there are certain health conditions that prevent you from taking the radiofrequency microneedling treatment. Pregnancy, open wounds, and skin infections are a few of these conditions. You also cannot get RF treatment if you have cancer or are undergoing radiation therapy, have an autoimmune disease, or use a pacemaker or defibrillator.

Traditional Microneedling Vs. RF Microneedling – Which Is Better?

To understand the difference between traditional microneedling and RF microneedling, let us quickly recap what each of them means:

  • Traditional Microneedling

Traditional microneedling involves the use of sterile needles that are rolled over the skin to create microscopic injuries in defined rows and columns. These punctures stimulate the skin’s natural healing process and trigger the release of proteins like elastin and collagen. The resultant new layer of the skin reduces any scarring, skin blemishes, or stretch marks (2).

  • RF Microneedling

RF microneedling takes traditional microneedling one step ahead by incorporating a radio frequency component. Here, the RF microneedling devices use specialized needles that create micro punctures while also channeling radio frequency through them. This slight modification enhances the production of the desired proteins (elastin and collagen) and hyaluronic acid, all of which augment the ability of traditional microneedling. Furthermore, the radio frequency waves produce a heating effect that boosts skin tightening (3).

So Which One Is Superior?

Given that RF microneedling combines the best of microneedling and radiofrequency treatment, it can singularly deliver dramatic results. The two complementary technologies boost each other’s effectiveness to deliver better results in the following areas:

  • Wrinkle removal
  • Eliminating acne scars
  • Addressing deep skin issues
  • Tightening loose skin

Moreover, RF microneedling devices are customizable with ample room to control puncture depth and RF energy intensity.

Hence, if you are given a choice between traditional microneedling and RF microneedling, the latter would be a better prospect.

Naturally, you must be wondering how the treatment plays out. Get an overview of the same in the next section.

What Can You Expect From RF Microneedling Treatment Procedure?

You will have to undergo at least 3 to 4 sessions of RF microneedling to see visible results. Each session lasts about 30 to 45 minutes, and here is what you will experience:

Before Your First RF Microneedling Session

As with all skin treatments, the process will begin with a dermatological assessment. Your cosmetologist will first take down your medical history and note down your skin goals. They will then take multiple photos of your skin to determine its condition and the best course of action to address the conditions. They may even give you a list of dos and don’ts to follow before you are ready for the actual procedure. Similarly, they may prescribe you antibiotics and medication to address issues related to acne breakouts, cold sores, etc.

During The Procedure

Once the preliminary assessment is over, you will then have to visit the skin care specialist to start the procedure. Here is what you can expect:

  • The skin specialist will first clean your skin with a deep cleansing lotion.
  • They will then apply a numbing cream.
  • After making sure that your skin is numb, they will use the handheld microneedling device to stamp punctures across your face (or the targeted section of the skin).
  • The device will also emit RF energy to deliver heat to your dermis and trigger the production of elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid.
  • You may experience a warm, prickly sensation, but none of the pain due to the numbing cream.
  • Once the entire skin surface is covered, the skin specialist will clean the region and apply a soothing lotion, balm, or mask.

The above steps outline the entire RF microneedling experience. But, what happens next? Read on to know more.

What Can You Expect After RF Microneedling Treatment?

Right after the process mentioned above, you may experience targeted pinpoint bleeding, slight swelling, redness, and flushing. However, it should not be a cause for concern, considering that it is a natural inflammatory response to the microscopic punctures made on your skin.

On average, these symptoms subside in about 24 to 48 hours. You can apply ice packs to reduce the swelling and alleviate the discomfort.

During the healing process, your dermatologist may recommend a specific skin care routine or prescribe some ointments, creams, or emollients. Ideally, you should use a gentle and healing cleanser, a deep skin moisturizer, and a mineral-based sunblock. You should apply a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays that can otherwise irritate your skin.

Ideally, it would be best to stay away from the makeup of any kind to allow the puncture wounds to heal without any blockages. However, if it is absolutely necessary, apply makeup or follow your routine skin care regimen only after 24 hours have passed.

Now let us look into how long the entire procedure lasts!

How Long Does RF Microneedling Procedure Last? And How Many Treatments Are Needed?

The number of treatments depends on your final skin goals and the present condition of your skin. Dermatologists typically recommend that you sign up for at least three sessions, each of 30 to 45 minutes each, for optimal results. Considering that the sessions are scheduled every 3 to 8 weeks, you will see the results in about 3 to 6 months’ time. However, this is just a standard time frame, and the actual results may vary depending on your skin condition and final goals.

The benefits of RF microneedling last about a year. However, you may need to visit your dermatologist for occasional touch-ups to maintain the results.

Considering that RF microneedling is not a “one-off” thing, one may have concerns regarding the safety of the procedure. Find out more in the next section.

Is Microneedling With Radiofrequency Safe? What Are Its Side Effects?

Given that RF microneedling is FDA-approved and is well-tolerated by most receivers, it is considered fairly safe. However, it does have some minor side effects such as (11):

  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Scaling
  • Mild acne flare-up
  • Swelling
  • Cold sore breakouts
  • Scabbing

These side effects usually last up to a few hours but can stretch to even a few days.

That being said, if you notice any of the following side effects, you must stop the process and consult a doctor immediately (11):

  • Allergic response to needles
  • Persistent or recurring redness or swelling
  • Signs of infection
  • Sustained and prolonged bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache

A few other drawbacks of RF microneedling include:

  • You need to routinely follow up with regular sessions to see noticeable results.
  • While numbing creams may reduce the pain, you are bound to experience discomfort as its effects wear off. This pain response can be worse if you have sensitive skin.
  • RF microneedling poses a mild risk of hyperpigmentation in people with medium or darker skin tones.
  • A botched-upRF microneedling procedure could worsen the skin problems that it promises to fix. As a result, you may be left with uneven skin tone and texture, visible pinpricks, wrinkles, scars, and burns.

If RF microneedling is not for you, there must be other alternatives that offer the same results, right? Read on to know more.

What Are Some Alternatives To RF Microneedling?

The beauty industry is no stranger to minimally invasive skin rejuvenation techniques. If you are looking for alternatives to RF microneedling, you can consider:

Key Takeaway

RF microneedling can rejuvenate your skin and improve its quality. However, make sure that you visit a qualified professional to ensure success and safety. When done correctly, RF microneedling can offer reduced scars and marks, younger-looking skin, and other skin improvements. This non-invasive treatment has virtually no downtime but does require some amount of aftercare. Given that its effects last about a year, it is well worth a try!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Does RF microneedling hurt?

The idea of getting several cuts on your skin may make one’s skin crawl. As such, you will not experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure. At best, you will feel a warm, prickly feeling.

What areas of my body can benefit from RF microneedling?

RF microneedling is safe for the skin on any part of your body. Typically, individuals use it to treat:

  • Face
  • Abdomen
  • Neck and chest
  • Arms
  • Legs

The treatment can reduce wrinkles, acne scars, loose or crepey skin, and stretch marks on any of the above areas.

Which RF microneedling machine is the best?

There are several big names like Vivace, Potenza, Morpheus8, Secret RF, Fractora RF, and Infini RF that make RF microneedling devices. However, rather than going for the “best” device, the user must focus on the service provider.

How much does RF microneedling cost?

The cost of RF microneedling ranges from USD 100 to USD 700 for every session. Accordingly, the entire treatment can cost you somewhere around USD 400 to USD 2,800. In some clinics, the microneedling and RF components may be available at separate costs or as an added service.

Ultimately, the total cost depends on your practitioner, skin condition, and geographical location.

What is the difference between at-home RF microneedling and getting the procedure done by a dermatologist or esthetician?

For starters, dermatologists and estheticians are trained professionals who are skilled at performing the procedure. So, you basically do not have the supervision of a specialist when doing it at home.

Given that RF microneedling involves the insertion of needles into the skin’s surface, one has to be sure that the needles are sterilized periodically. Professional RF microneedling devices come with disposable tips or allow sterilization. However, at-home devices lack the same.

Additionally, the at-home RF microneedling devices are customized to be less penetrative or harmful to ensure safety. On the other hand, in a professional setting, the devices are more capable and feature-rich to offer deep-skin stimulation.

Recommended Articles

14 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

  1. Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976400/
  2. Microneedling: A Review and Practical Guide
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28796657/
  3. Radiofrequency facial rejuvenation: Evidence-based effect
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6541915/
  4. Evaluation of Microneedling Fractional Radiofrequency Device for Treatment of Acne Scars
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4134659/
  5. Treatment of Acne Scars on Darker Skin Types Using a Noninsulated Smooth Motion, Electronically Controlled Radiofrequency Microneedles Treatment System
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28009691/
  6. Non-insulated Fractional Microneedle Radiofrequency Treatment with Smooth Motor Insertion for Reduction of Depressed Acne Scars, Pore Size, and Skin Texture Improvement
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6122511/
  7. Intramuscular Insertion of a Radiofrequency Microneedling Device for Facial Rejuvenation: A New Technique and Case Reports
    https://doi.org/10.1093/asjof/ojz035
  8. Comparison of Microneedle Fractional Radiofrequency Therapy with Intradermal Botulinum Toxin A Injection for Periorbital Rejuvenation
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000356162
  9. Efficacy of Fractional Microneedle Radiofrequency Device in the Treatment of Primary Axillary Hyperhidrosis: A Pilot Study
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000354602
  10. Pilot study for permanent resolution of axillary hyperhidrosis: elimination of sweat glands with intradermal microneedle radiofrequency
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s00238-018-1470-8
  11. Microneedling Devices
    https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/aesthetic-cosmetic-devices/microneedling-devices
  12. Ablative Laser Resurfacing
    https://www.ucsfhealth.org/treatments/ablative-laser-resurfacing
  13. A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6122508/
  14. Problems and Solutions for Platelet-Rich Plasma in Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review
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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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