How do radiofrequency facials work?
As with a laser facial, the radiofrequency delivers energy to the target area, producing heat in it. But whereas lasers use high-frequency waves that most affect the surface of the skin, radiofrequency uses lower-frequency waves that can penetrate a little deeper into the skin. Radiofrequency is also better than laser for treating darker skin tones. This is because laser uses light energy, which is attracted to melanin in the skin, and may cause damage in darker skin, which contains more melanin. But radiofrequency is ‘melanin-blind’ so it is suitable for almost all skin types.
What do radiofrequency facials do?
A radiofrequency facial tightens your skin and refines its contours. The radiofrequency heats up the lower levels of the skin, making the collagen within them contract. This has a small but instant shrink-wrapping effect on the face and also stimulates the skin to produce more of its own collagen over the next few weeks.
Used at high intensity, radiofrequency treatments are great for serious skin tightening, but even adding a quick session of radiofrequency into a facial can give your skin a noticeable boost.
Do radiofrequency facials work?
Yes. Radiofrequency facials can not only tighten your skin immediately but also give it a longer-term boost by stimulating it to produce more collagen. Because the radiofrequency energy is used at a lower intensity during a facial than during a standalone clinical radiofrequency treatment, you will need more sessions in order to see a more pronounced result. Radiofrequency facials can also boost your skin’s oxygen levels, thus giving dull-looking skin more radiance.
Are radiofrequency facials safe?
Yes, radiofrequency facials are considered safe – provided that the radiofrequency device is FDA approved and that the practitioner is skilled and experienced with the radiofrequency device.
The FDA – the Food & Drug Administration – is the U.S. government body which polices medical devices, including aesthetic equipment, such as radiofrequency devices, lasers, and ultrasound machine. The FDA’s assessments are lengthy and detailed, and require a considerable amount of evidence to show that a product or device lives up to its claims and does this safely. The UK has no equivalent assessment standard; it classes most aesthetic machines as ‘medical devices’ and requires them to have a CE mark, which is much easier to get than FDA clearance.
The UK also has almost no restrictions on who can operate aesthetic devices. So it’s vital that you make sure your practitioner is fully trained, experienced, and able to deliver the results you want.
How often do you need radiofrequency facials?
How frequently you need radiofrequency facials depends on the type of facial and the dose of radiofrequency it uses. But in general, many practitioners recommend a course of six to eight radiofrequency facial treatments at one-month intervals, to achieve the initial level of improvement you want. After that, practitioners typically suggest a treatment every few months, or in some cases every year, to maintain the improvements.
Where can I get a radiofrequency facial?
You can use the Find a Practitioner tool on this website to find a practitioner who offers radiofrequency facials.
How much do radiofrequency facials cost?
The cost of radiofrequency facials varies depending on the clinic and on exactly what the facial involves:
- A 30-minute radiofrequency skin-tightening facial costs around £60 upward;
- The Venus Freeze facial, which combines radiofrequency with pulsed electro-magnetic waves, costs around £120.
How long do radiofrequency facials take?
A radiofrequency facial typically takes between 20 and 45 minutes.
How long do radiofrequency facials last?
The effects of a radiofrequency facial usually last for three or four weeks after treatment.
Many practitioners recommend you take a course of radiofrequency facials at regular intervals to get the best results.
Are there any side effects to radiofrequency facials?
Radiofrequency facials usually have the following two side effects:
- Redness and heat. Your face and neck will become red and will feel hot for a few hours after the treatment, because the treatment involves heating the skin enough to stimulate new collagen production.
- Swelling. Your face may be a little swollen after treatment, and this may take a day or two to go down. I have never found my face to be swollen after a radiofrequency facial but I know it can happen, so I’m just noting it for the record.
The following side effects can occur but should not occur if the practitioner is using the radiofrequency device correctly:
- Thermal burns. The radiofrequency device delivers a considerable amount of heat energy, and the practitioner must make sure no part of the treatment area receives too much heat.
- Subcutaneous fat loss. Monopolar radiofrequency treatments can reach deep enough into the body to hit the fat beneath the skin, and the radiofrequency can kill the fat cells it reaches. This can be great in a bottom-shrinking treatment, but it’s far from great in a face which is already losing its fat pads.
What is it like to have a radiofrequency facial?
Your experience having a radiofrequency facial will depend on which type of facial you have. To give you some idea, here is how I found the radiofrequency facial with the Venus Concept machine which combines radiofrequency with pulsed electro-magnetic frequencies.
With my face covered in a delicious-smelling gel that will help the treatment head to slither around on my skin, this starts off feeling like an indulgent facial, rather than a medical treatment. The practitioner, celebrity facialist Teresa Tarmey, starts scooting the device, with its four smooth metal bulbs on the treatment head, around my face in swift, overlapping circular movements. I can feel it is warming my skin as it goes, and quite soon it feels too hot, but Teresa turns the intensity of the radiofrequency down until it is perfectly comfortable. I relax.
Teresa tells me that the radiofrequency energy waves are causing damage deep down in the skin, to stimulate my skin’s own healing mechanisms. I don’t like the sound of ‘damage’, but I’m told it is a carefully controlled dose of heat – enough to kick-start my skin into producing new collagen and elastin, which together give skin its firmness, plumpness and springiness. The radiofrequency waves also have the knock-on effect of shrinking the existing collagen within my skin, which is what gives the instant contouring effect. The magnetic pulses, apparently, have the ability to liquefy fat into fatty acids. I don’t like the sound of that, either – my face doesn’t need to lose any more of its padding â€“ but she reassures me that for use on the face, the magnetic pulses are turned down very low. (The Venus machine can also be used for non-surgical body-contouring, and that’s when its fat-busting magnetic pulses are more useful.)
Ten minutes in, my face is starting to feel really quite hot, and Teresa explains the treatment has to heat the skin to 39C or more in order to make the collagen shrink, to get the tightening- contouring effect. She keeps whizzing the treatment head around my cheeks, the sides of my eyes, and under my jaw, which are the areas that need the most help.
Afterwards, my face feels taut all over, as if I’d been out in the sun for too long. My forehead is smoother and my eyebrows have risen up a fraction, and the skin has definitely tightened around my cheekbones and jawline, so that they are more defined. My skin has a lovely glow to it. It’s also a bit pink after the treatment, but that vanishes within the hour.
As Teresa points out, it’s a treatment that men enjoy as much as women – it is something that she gives to a lot of celebs when she’s prepping them for red carpet appearances.