Radio frequency technology is one of the buzz words in aesthetics, beauty and medical markets with an ever increasing number of radio frequency machines and advancements in radio frequency technology. Though it has been around in the medical arena for over 70 years

Radio frequency has become renowned worldwide for treatments of the face and of the body. Some of the most common treatments current performed by radio frequency are

  • Face lifts
  • Wrinkle reduction 
  • Facial skin tightening 
  • Body Skin tightening
  • Body contouring 
  • Fat reduction
  • Cellulite reduction

Radio frequency is also sometimes performed along with hair removal treatments please see the Zeolite for an example of this type of technology.

What is Radiofrequency?

From a technical point of view radio frequency is the number of oscillations (or waves) per second of the electric and magnetic fields within the radio waves portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The radio waves portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ranges from radio waves which is the lowest point to gamma rays and includes ultraviolet, infrared, w-rays, visible light and microwaves.

A current is delivered through an electrode which generates electromagnetic waves at the speed of light and these are called radio waves. 

The wavelength of the radio frequency can be between centimetres and kilometres in length. When used in aesthetic procedures the frequency of the current is raised above the response time of the structure and thus it becomes safe for use. The human body acts as a conduit for the radio frequency energy and becomes part of the circuit which means when it means resistance heat is caused which can be used to stimulate collagen growth or remodelling. The radiofrequency penetrates deep into the son to affect the dermis and subcutaneous layers.

Types of Radio frequency 

Monopolar refers to a single electrode. When looking at the method of delivery of the radio frequency the current delivered by the machines flow into the body and meets maximum reistance in the area around the hand piece where heating of the tissue occurs in the subdermal layers. For this to be effective and safe a grounding pad is used which is attached to the patients back or lower abdomen to provide a low resistance path for the current to flow back to the machine, thus completing the electrical circuit. Monopolar treatments deliver the RF currents through deeper lying layers of skin (up to 20mm below the skin's surface)

Biopolar refers to a two electrodes. When looking at this delivery system, the current from the machine flows only through tissue that is trapped between the two electrodes on the hand piece. This is the start and end of the electrical circuit. No current flows through the rest of the body so no grounding pad is needed. Bipolar treatments heat skin tissue only 2-4mm deep.

Multipolar This referes to more than two electrodes. The more polars/electrodes the hand pieces has, the more deeply and the more widely the RF can penetrate. The current flows between the electrodes and the tissue trapped between the same way as bipolar so no grounding pad is needed.

In all cases of radiofrequency delivery types, it is the resistance to the current flow in the tissue, not the electrode that generates the heating effect. He treatment works in two ways

  • To contract the dermis resulting ie reduction of wrinkles
  • Stimulation of increased collagen, elastin and blood circulation ie skin rejuvenation


Anything that irritates the skin should be avoided prior to treatment and includes things like sunbathing. This is because they are more likely to be sensitive to the pain if they have active sun burn. Often women prior to the menstrual cycles can also have extra sensitivity on the skin.

During treatment any makeup and skin oils should be removed to avoid any interference with the radio frequency. In some clinics a topical anaesthetic cream is applied to help numb any pain. Some form of coupling gel or lotion may also be used

Radiofrequency devices function independent of chromophores; they can be used on all skin types with little to no risk of pigment alteration. 

What makes a good radiofrequency machine?

When looking for a good radiofrequency machine you should look for the following

Where the machine is made? 

Many machines are built in the far east. These machines are generally not the same quality as European machines. Check to see where yours is made and ask for proof!

Who is the supplier?

Check to see what support you get with the machine. Are they offering a longer warranty? This is generally a sign the machine is better quality.

Does it treat face and body?

What’s the point in getting a machine that only does half the job!

Is it multipolar? 

If it is has multipoles then you are going to get faster more efficient treatments

How long does it take to heat up?

The better the machine the quicker the heat up time as radiofrequency is only affective once you get above 42 degrees

What else to look for?

If the machine has its own cosmetic range then the results are going to be more apparent and enhanced than just a radiofrequency machine on its own!


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