Radiofrequency microneedling is a cosmetic procedure. It uses tiny needles and radiofrequency waves to rejuvenate facial skin.
The treatment is a form of controlled skin injury. The damage stimulates the growth of healthy new skin, which can benefit common skin issues like acne scars and wrinkles.
Compared with treatments like chemical peels and dermabrasion, radiofrequency microneedling is minimally invasive. Read on to learn about the procedure, side effects, and benefits.
Microneedling uses a fine needle to create microwounds, or channels, in the skin. This triggers the production of capillaries, elastin, and collagen. It’s also called skin needling or collagen induction therapy.
If the procedure also uses radiofrequency waves, it’s called radiofrequency microneedling. The needle releases radiofrequency into the channels, causing additional damage. This enhances the effects of standard microneedling.
The skin that grows back is thicker and smoother. This can target:
- fine lines
- stretch marks
- appearance of large pores
- acne scars
- scars from injury or surgery
- loose, sagging skin
You can also get radiofrequency microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
In this procedure, your provider draws blood from your arm and uses a machine to separate the platelets.
After a microneedling session, your provider injects or applies the platelets to the treated area. This may maximize the results of your treatment.
Radiofrequency microneedling is considered safe, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.
You may be an ideal candidate if you:
- are in good health
- have early signs of aging
- have realistic expectations
Alternatively, you should avoid the treatment if you:
- currently or recently used Accutane
- have an active cold sore breakout
- have a skin infection
- have a moderate to severe skin disease (like psoriasis)
- are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- are pregnant
- are taking anticoagulants
- have a history of keloids, hypertrophic scarring, or poor wound healing
If you’re interested in the procedure, you’ll need to meet with a healthcare provider, such as a cosmetic surgeon.
Prior to the procedure
At your initial appointment, your provider will ask questions about your medical history and expectations. They’ll also take photos of your face to determine the best technique for your condition, as well as provide instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.
If you have active acne breakouts, you may be asked to take oral antibiotics. If you have a history of cold sores, you might need to take oral antiviral medication.
During the procedure
Your actual procedure will take place in your healthcare provider’s office. Generally, here’s what you can expect:
- A healthcare provider cleans your skin with alcohol to prevent infection.
- They apply a topical anesthetic to the treatment area about 1 hour before the procedure. In some cases, they might inject a local anesthetic instead. The anesthetic numbs the area so you won’t feel pain.
- The microneedling device makes tiny wounds in the skin. Simultaneously, the tip of the needle releases radiofrequency waves into the wounds.
- The procedure takes 10 to 20 minutes. The exact duration depends on what you’re treating.
- A healthcare provider applies a growth solution to support cell regeneration. They finish with a soothing solution to minimize any discomfort.
After the procedure
You can go home after the treatment and return to your normal activities.
After your procedure, your doctor will explain how to care for your skin. This will include the following aftercare tips:
- Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Wear SPF for several weeks after your treatment. Your skin will be extra sensitive to the sun during this time.
- Use antibiotic creams or emollients if your doctor prescribed them.
- Use a gentle cleanser after your treatment.
- Avoid wearing makeup until the next day. After 24 hours, you can return to your normal makeup and skin care routine.
According to research, radiofrequency microneedling is effective for many skin conditions.
Microneedling with radiofrequency waves can also improve the look of your skin. In a 2013 study, for example, the procedure reduced wrinkles around the eyes. The effects lasted longer than Botox injections.
A 2020 case report also shares that the treatment can reduce loose facial skin.
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When to expect results
You’ll see results after 3 to 6 months. The exact time frame depends on the type and severity of your condition.
In most cases, you’ll need at least four sessions. This also depends on what you’re treating. For example, if you have moderate acne scars, you’ll need about three or four treatments. Bigger scars might need five treatments.
These sessions will be done every 3 to 8 weeks. This lets your skin heal between treatments.
After the initial set of treatments, the results will last about 1 year. It’s recommended to have a touch-up session once a year to maintain your desired results.
Typically, radiofrequency microneedling is well tolerated. But like all cosmetic treatments, it may cause some side effects.
Possible side effects include:
- mild acne flare-up
- cold sore breakout
These side effects might last for a few hours or days.
Some complications need medical attention. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor:
- allergic reaction to needles
- signs of infection
- persisting swelling or redness
- prolonged bleeding
Since radiofrequency microneedling is a cosmetic procedure, it’s not covered by insurance. You’ll need to pay for it out of pocket.
The average cost of standard microneedling ranges from $100 to $700 per session. Radiofrequency can be added for an additional fee. The final cost depends on your geographical location, practitioner, and skin condition.
Since you’ll need at least four sessions, you can expect to spend at least $400 to $2,800.
If you’d like to try radiofrequency microneedling, be sure to work with a qualified healthcare provider, such as a reputable cosmetic surgeon. This will ensure your procedure is done safely and properly.
An experienced provider can also provide realistic expectations for your situation.
To find a qualified provider in your area, search the database at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
Radiofrequency microneedling is used to rejuvenate the skin. It can target acne scars and early signs of aging, like fine lines and sagging. It’s also effective for hyperhidrosis.
Generally, the procedure only takes 10 to 20 minutes. There’s no downtime, but you’ll need to wear SPF as your skin heals.
You’ll likely need at least four treatments to get the results you want. To maintain the full effect, it’s recommended to repeat the session once a year.