What affects the efficacy of radiofrequency (RF) treatments
There are many parameters that affect the effectiveness and safety of RF treatment, the most important of which are described below:
- Bipolar, tripolar, multipolar, unipolar or monopolar RF function. This mainly determines the penetration depth of the treatment. Biopolar RF is very superficial while monopolar RF may be able to target deeper tissues, depending on other settings. Please note that unipolar RF is not the same as monopolar and offers a quite superficial treatment too. There are machines that offer so-called tripolar, quadripolar, oactapolar, multipolar, etc. options. However all these machines and thereby very superficial, contrary to all the marketing hype (as you may remember from school physics, there are only two electrical poles, plus + and minus -). However, a lot depends on all the other settings on the list, and ultimately on the knowledge of the person that will design your treatment.
- RF current frequency, in kHz or MHz. This mainly has to do with what kind of tissues the treatment affects. Higher frequencies tend to affect more superficial, i.e. surface level, tissues.
- Resistive or capacitive RF function. Resistive/capacitive RF function primarily determines if the treatment is deep or superficial. Resistive RF is generally deeper than capacitive RF, which is usually very superficial.
- Maximum RF power, in Watts. Higher intensity means better treatment, but too high intensity may also cause irritation. A good therapist will be able to treat at just the right intensity maintaining a fine balance between both effectiveness and comfort/safety.
- Power modulation. This allows high intensities to be used without overheating the tissues.
- Cooling mechanism. This allows the surface of the skin to remain unaffected while deeper tissues are heated intensely.
- Contact gel/cream used. This allows the current to pass through the skin but also affects the quality of the treatment itself by altering the characteristics of the current as it passes through the cream/gel and into the skin.
- Setting adjustments allowed by the equipment. Some machines allow the operator to adjust many different parameters. Others have very simplistic controls – which is not very helpful.
- Protocol design by the head therapist of the clinic/salon. Usually the head therapist of the salon/ clinic creates the basic protocol to be followed for each client or for all clients. Even the best machines in the world will not be put into good use if the person that sets the parameters and designs the treatment does not have a good knowledge of the biophysics of RF treatment (unfortunately this is non-existent in the beauty industry)…Obviously, customized protocols for each client will be more effective than one-size-fits all protocols.
- Operator experience. Usually the operator does not necessarily need to have a good knowledge of the biophysics of the treatment, as the protocols are designed by the head of therapist, but experience is very important. A very busy clinic where hundreds of RF treatments are provided every month allows its staff to gain more experience on the treatment and provide better results. Also, specialization on a specific type of RF treatment (e.g. face, body, bipolar, monopolar, resistive, capacitive, etc.) can play an important role.
Get the best possible RF treatment by asking the right questions
It is evident that there exists a wide variety of equipment specifications and therapist knowledge and expertise, and it is almost impossible for a member of the public to assess which treatment is effective and which is not. But asking a few questions can offer you important clues about the quality of the treatment you are about to receive. Click here to check out the six essentials questions to ask about RF.
The Fabulous Team