By: Beth Phillips,RPAC
Radio frequency (RF) technology used to tighten skin and remodel tissue is one of the most exciting modalities that I have seen in the aesthetic plastic surgery industry in quite some time.
The medical team at our office frequently attends conferences to learn about and to be aware of emerging technologies that allow us to best provide our patients with options to achieve their goals. This past year, I attended a very prestigious conference and there was an entire forum dedicated to a technology that has existed for a long time, but is now being made available to use in a safe and very effective way.
What is Radio frequency energy?
Radio frequency energy is an electrical energy that transforms to thermal energy when introduced to tissue. This stimulates sub-dermal collagen production, thus causing tightening of the surrounding tissue. RF energy produces an electric current in contrast to laser-based energy that produces energy via light. This minimizes tissue damage and does not affect melanin in the skin. This means that RF energy can be used on all skin types and allows for different depths of penetration based on what is being treated.
As a practitioner, I am always looking for ways to optimize the results that we can achieve for our patients. I found this to be a modality that treats a patient population that we often would send away and tell them to come back when things got worse. Common areas like neck, jowls, arms, bra rolls and inner thighs are places that patients frequently complain about. There are surgical corrections for these that will provide great improvement but leave a scar and have associated down time. If there is enough laxity in these areas, surgery may still be the best option, but for what I call the “in- betweeners”, I think this is a great option. Instead of excising tissue, a small knick is made in the skin to allow for a probe to be placed under the skin. The radio frequency device (in our case, it is Bodytite or Facetite by Inmode) has an attached probe above the skin, fashioned similarly to a tuning fork, that sends RF energy between the two probes. There is a computerized feedback mechanism that will turn the machine off if the temperature becomes dangerously high to the tissue being treated. The only resulting incisions are less than one centimeter.
Early results are seen immediately, but continued collagen formation will create ongoing improvement for approximately one year.
Another modality where RF technology is used is called Fractional micro-needle radio frequency (FMR which is Fractora by Inmode in our office). Our aestheticians already perform a very large volume of micro-needling procedures with excellent skin improvements. FMR provides greater potential collagen production. It also is used successfully in the treatment of hyperhidrosis of the axilla. Sweating of the underarms, palms and feet can be greatly improved and sometimes eliminated with radio frequency micro-needling.
Radio frequency assisted lipolysis (RFAL) is liposuction that employs RF to improve the outcome by tightening the skin as well. This works well for male gynecomastia as well as areas such as knees, inner and outer thighs, pubic mound, arms and abdomen. The Bodytite platform is essentially “smart lipo” which is a term used for liposuction where fat is Liquifed before it is suctioned out. This has traditionally been performed with a laser. The risk of burns from the laser is higher. With RFAL, or as we call it “Smart-ER lipo,” the computerized feedback largely eliminates the risk of burns.
RF technology has so many applications in the plastic surgery and aesthetic setting. There is too much information to provide in one article. Attached is one website that contains videos and research supporting the technology. https://inmodemd.com/
As the final article that I will be writing for Women of Upstate New York Magazine, I would like to send my best wishes to Mary McCandless in her retirement. It has been a very enjoyable and satisfying experience to be able to share information about what we do at CNY Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery. I have met so many wonderful women via this publication.
I thought that “Positive Energy” was a good title for my last article. I believe that the message that Mary has been sending to her readers about “Making Ordinary Women Extraordinary” is a message that should NOT be retired. My first appearance in WOUNY was in an article where I was asked my favorite quote. The quote by Robert Ingersoll, ‘We rise by lifting others,” continues to be my favorite. Even though my articles focus on ways to improve your outward beauty, I continue to believe that true beauty comes from within.
From all of us at CNY Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery, we applaud the positive energy that “Women of Upstate NY Magazine” has cultivated over the years!!