Last updated date: 13-Jun-2022


15 mins read


For a long time, the best procedure for treating cellulite and excess fat was a method known as cavitation: the ultrasound waves cause the fat to move from cells into the interstitial space, where it is removed via the lymphatic system. RF lifting and cavitation have some similarities, but in terms of effectiveness, the RF lifting procedure has a greater effect.

Today, the devices for aesthetic medicine can be compared to the technology developed by NASA for spacecraft, and that is no exaggeration. Nobody is any longer impressed by a beauty machine that emits only one type of energy and only according to the one standard (initially Thermage).

Thermal lifting, also called “Thermage” by patients, has become a hit procedure a long time ago. It allows significant facial rejuvenation to be achieved in the shortest possible time, with the effects maintained for several years.

Radio frequency (RF) skin tightening is a non-invasive and non-surgical anti-aging skin tightening and treatment. During radiofrequency treatment, electric current flows from the electrodes of the radiofrequency device to the skin, heating the underlying tissue to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Radiofrequency skin tightening is considered very safe; the only common side effect is mild to moderate pain during treatment.

The RF skin firming device does not require downtime or skin care after treatment. Sagging skin, wrinkles and fine lines are common problems caused by light damage caused by genetics or sun exposure. Over time, collagen and elastin, the two components present in the skin, will break down and cause the skin to lose its elasticity. During the radio frequency (RF) skin tightening process, heat is used to stimulate the production of new collagen and elastin. The re-production of these ingredients helps eliminate wrinkles and fine lines and tighten the skin.

RF lifting for the body allows you to tighten the weakened skin and eliminate cellulite, and this is guaranteed to be effective for years to come.


How does RF work?

Radio frequency (RF) therapy, also known as radiofrequency skin tightening, is a non-surgical method of tightening the skin. This procedure involves the use of energy waves to heat the deep layer of the skin called the dermis. This heat stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is the most common protein in your body. Shapes the skin frame and tightens the skin.

As you age, your cells produce less collagen, which can lead to sagging and wrinkling of your skin. When the quantity and quality of your collagen start to decline, sagging skin will occur around 35-40 years of age. Since 2001, radiofrequency therapy has been used to combat sagging skin and the signs of aging.

How does it work?

Thermalift is the first RF that can be used to tighten the skin, but many companies now offer similar technologies.

Some of the most common system types in the United States include:

  • Exilis;
  • Profound RF;
  • Thermage;
  • Thermi.

Each technology works the same way. Radio frequency waves heat the skin deeply between 122 and 167 ° F (50-75 ° C). A reliable source of 44 researchers found that keeping your temperature above 115 ° F (46 ° C) for more than 3 minutes will cause your body to release heat shock proteins. These proteins stimulate your body to produce new collagen fibers.

This process usually takes less than an hour and should be almost painless.


What is a radio frequency wave?

RF waves are a form of radiation. Radiation is the release of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. It can be classified as low energy or high energy according to the amount of energy released. X-rays and gamma rays are examples of high-energy radiation, while radio frequency waves are considered low-energy radiation. Radio waves, Wi-Fi, and microwaves are all forms of radio frequency waves.

The form of radiation used for radiofrequency skin tightening releases about 1 billion times less energy than X-rays.


How does RF work?

How does RF work?

The principle behind RF therapy is to use radio frequency energy to target the outer layer of the skin or tissues below the epidermis. This energy generates heat, which in turn produces new collagen.

This process also triggers the proliferation of fibers. In this process, the body forms new fibrous tissues and stimulates collagen production, causing the collagen fibers to become shorter and tighter. At the same time, the molecules that make up collagen are intact. The elasticity of the skin increases, and the sagging and sagging skin tightens.


What should you feel during your RF therapy?

During the treatment, the RF skin tightening machine will send alternating current from the tip of the electrode to your tissue at a frequency of 0.3 to 10 MHz. This process avoids the amount of melanin present in the outer layer of the skin, making the treatment effective for all skin types and colors.

The pain caused by it is usually rated on a five-point pain scale, where zero means no pain, and four means unbearable pain level. Most patients who received radiofrequency skin tightening reported a pain level of 1, and the rest reported a pain level of 2.


Potential Benefits of RF

The main benefits of radiofrequency therapy are skin tightening and wrinkle removal.

  • Sun damage. However, radiofrequency therapy can also help combat sun damage because it stimulates the production of collagen. Exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) can cause the collagen fibers in the skin to break down and become messy. A 2011 study found that 3 months of RF treatment resulted in significant clinical improvement in a small group of people with signs of mild to moderate sun damage.
  • Body and face contouring. Radio Frequency Therapy can help tighten the sagging skin of the body by stimulating the production of collagen. A study from 2017 found that 24 out of 25 people who received 5 to 8 radiofrequency treatments improved in shape. 23 people were satisfied with their results. A small study analyzed the effects of radiofrequency combined with pulsed electromagnetic therapy for 8 weeks. The 44 researchers found that the sagging skin on the face of the 11 participants had a significant improvement, and 73% of them had improved facial contours.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles. A 2018 study has analyzed the effects of radiofrequency therapy on wrinkles around the eyes of 70 middle-aged women.  The researchers found that all three treatments over 6 weeks significantly reduced their wrinkles.
  • RF Facelift. RF treatment can be used as a non-surgical method for facelift. A 2017 study examined the effect of using radiofrequency therapy to break down low fat in 14 middle-aged Asian women. After 5 weeks, more than 90% of women had lost fat, and 60% of women were satisfied or very satisfied with their results.
  • Periorbital firming. Radiofrequency firming can be used on the eyelids to reduce skin sagging. Through special contact lenses worn during non-invasive surgery, the eyes are protected from radio frequency energy. In some cases, local anesthetics can be used in the periorbital area. RF Facial rejuvenation around the eyes does not cause downtime, and the risk of negative side effects is small or zero. Patients can expect mild to moderate improvement in eyelid skin tension.
  • Tighten eyebrows and forehead skin. RF facial treatment can effectively lift the eyebrow line. This process tightens the skin and pulls the eyebrows back from the midline of the pupil or the center of the eye. The non-invasive process also gives the brows a sharper and more natural angle.
  • Cheek lift. Radio frequency treatment can tighten sagging skin in the cheek area. After receiving radiofrequency treatment, the sagging skin surface under the jaw or cheek will decrease.
  • Nasolabial folds, the dents on either side of the nose, commonly called laugh lines, have also been effectively treated. In fact, the tightening of the nasolabial fold after radiofrequency tightening of the skin is one of the most striking observations the researchers have observed.
  • RF firming and cheek resurfacing is safe for all skin types. Studies have shown that 96% of patients' cheeks and neck skin sagging improved after treatment.
  • Body sculpting. In some cases, patients receive body shaping treatments to reduce fat and tighten loose skin and wrinkles.
  • Neck skin tightening requires radio frequency machines to operate at lower-than-normal temperatures because the neck skin is thinner than most skins in other parts of the body.
  • Abdomen, thighs and buttocks. Radiofrequency treatment is an effective way to shape your body in these areas, and can even reduce skin sagging after pregnancy.
  • Arm. The loose skin on the arm may tighten, but it may require multiple treatments for significant improvement.
  • Knee-sagging skin can be tightened, but dermatologists must be careful when applying radio frequency technology because the skin in this area is thinner and there are fewer sebaceous glands (a gland for lubricating and waterproof skin)
  • Stretching the skin by radio frequency. The body also reduces the appearance of cellulite in the abdomen, thighs, arms and buttocks.

The patient may notice skin tightening immediately after treatment. Other patients may notice results within six months of initial treatment, or require multiple sessions before they notice the effect. Generally speaking, if skin care is done properly, the effect can last for two to three years.


Dangers of RF and potential side effects

The only side effect observed was mild redness a few hours after the operation. RF skin tightening, when performed by a surgeon certified by the American Board of Aesthetic Surgery, is generally considered safe.

If the procedure is done incorrectly, you may get burned.

The most common side effects include:

  • Temporary swelling;
  • Redness;
  • Tingling.

People with darker skin are at higher risk of side effects of laser and radiofrequency treatment. The form of radio frequency radiation used in this process is similar to the type of radiation emitted by other common household devices, such as mobile phones or Wi-Fi.

Although the long-term effects of low-energy radiation are not fully understood, there is no conclusive evidence that radio frequency radiation poses a threat to human health.

The main risk of treatment lies in scar formation. For example, the BTC2000 system measures applied pressure, skin temperature, and applicator current / impedance to avoid coupling problems. When the internal limit is exceeded, the system will automatically interrupt the treatment. The complication rate of each MRF application has been reported to be very low.

Regarding individual patient treatment, observed events are in the percentage range because many individual applications (220–720) are performed in each treatment phase. Platysma inflammation occurs especially after high energy. Despite the built-in cooling system, it is still possible to burn the skin (about 2%, <5mm). According to a study, this is due to the uneven contact of the system electrodes and the skin. After antibiotics, these areas healed without scarring.

In another study, burns occurred in 17.4% of cases. In total, 4.7% of patients experienced scarring and two patients experienced temporary skin atrophy. Overall, approximately 8.4% of cases should be expected to have negative assessment changes (scars, texture and elasticity changes) that last for 6 months. The incidence of complications depends in particular on the experience of the therapist. In addition, the risk of thermal side effects and related complications increases with the energy applied.

The recommended measures to reduce these adverse effects are:

  • reduce the energy applied to the area close to the underlying bones (cheekbones, chin, temples, forehead);
  • remove oil from the skin immediately before the procedure;
  • apply enough coupling gel to avoid overheating of the epidermis;
  • place the applicator evenly under constant pressure to avoid uneven energy application.


It is important to remove metal jewelry before treatment, otherwise changes in skin impedance can easily cause burns and scars. If the electrodes are not applied flat, impedance changes will occur relatively easily. The main reason is that the transition resistance has changed, so the thermal induction has changed. As a result, burns (up to 17.4%) and scars (3.48–4.65%) can occur. According to the manufacturer's information, the probability of tissue overheating is approximately 0.15% (150,000 applications; based on a 2005 statement). Second degree burns were observed in 0.4% of the treatments. According to the regulations, patients must be informed of all common complications before treatment and must be recorded in writing.


Absolute Contraindications

Absolute contraindications of MRF therapy are implanted pacemakers or defibrillators as well as facial implants.


Relative contraindications

Relative contraindications are based on a possible increased risk of complications or a lower probability of the expected results of treatment. This situation always requires a very careful risk-return balance.


Prevention of complications

Without guaranteeing completeness, the following factors have so far been listed as relative contraindications by manufacturers, literature, and patient selection in clinical studies, and should definitely be considered. According to current data, the experience of the doctor decisively determines the success of the radio wave therapy intervention. Therefore, the use of such systems requires comprehensive medical training.

  • Microdermabrasion, chemical peel or laser resurfacing in the last year;
  • Microdermabrasion in the last 3 months;
  • Fat gain in the last 18 months;
  • Use of collagen fillers, botox in the last 6 months Toxins or oral retinoic acid for treatment;
  • Even topical retinoic acid treatment;
  • Use skin care products in the last 2 weeks;
  • Use topical steroid treatment in the last 2 months;
  • Radio frequency treatment in the last year;
  • Oral steroids use in the last 12 months;
  • A history of recurrent herpes simplex should be used as a preventive indication for antiviral therapy;
  • Indications of increased photosensitivity, collagen vascular disease, diabetes, heart failure and a history of skin cancer;
  • Active local or systemic infection;
  • Immunosuppression;
  • Pregnancy and lactation;
  • Skin atrophy. The heat induced by chronic radiation can cause dermatitis to spread deeper and damage important anatomical structures.


Beauty Technologies and Innovations

Beauty Technologies and Innovations

TriActive Plus, unlike its predecessors and counterparts, distributes radio waves not through all the skin and tissue layers, but only at the level where collagen is located. Thus, there is no useless overload of the body. During the RF lifting procedure, the dermis is gently heated, causing the age-related stretched and damaged collagen fibers to curl up again and reorganize, returning to their “younger” condition. The facial contours are tightened, wrinkles are smoothed out, and the “signs of tiredness” are removed. People around you will think that you are young, full of energy, and look great at any time and in any situation.

TriActive Plus is ideal for skin toning and cellulite elimination, using the bipolar RF (Radio Frequency) together with vacuum massage. The radiofrequency energy breaks down fatty capsules, flawlessly levels up and tightens the skin by the synthesis of new collagen, and the vacuum draws out intercellular fluid and stimulates the regenerative processes. The latest model handpieces allow even more distribution of heat and the use of high-power settings, making the results most pronounced.

TriActive Plus has one other advantage - laser lymphatic drainage. This is the third benefit of the beautification process, which awakens all the dermal components to new life, stimulating the natural processes of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production. Laser drainage frees up space in the dermis, eliminating stagnant edematous formations, cellulite unevenness and lipid deposits. This procedure is ideal as a finishing touch to RF-lifting for the face and body. It is also essential for patients before or after plastic surgery, because it speeds up the activity of several body systems and the healing process.

There are certain contraindications to RF-lifting. Radiofrequency rejuvenation cannot be carried out if the patient or operator is pregnant. RF-lifting is also contraindicated if a patient has metal prostheses or a pacemaker in the area to be treated. On the whole, there are few contraindications to RF-lifting, and the doctor will make sure that you do not have any of the conditions on this short, but important, list.


Indications and Selection

If you want to always look young and fresh, regardless of your age. If you are not yet considering the possibility of a surgical facelift. If you would prefer a single cosmetic procedure that can be done quickly and unnoticeably, but would make you look several years younger, with long term results, then facial RF-lifting is for you.

If you want to tighten up the skin on your body, so that it feels smooth and firm, just like in your youth. Sculpted buttocks, taut hips, a smooth decolletage, firm skin on your hands, and a flat stomach, can all be simply achieved using a very comfortable procedure. In fact, the effect of RF-lifting is comparable to the effect of body supporting and shaping underwear. But in this case, you will be able to wear any clothes that you want over your naked body.

If you want to get back your old figure and skin firmness after rapid weight loss or childbirth - in the shortest possible time and without surgery. There is no need to wear yourself out with methods that have little effect, when thermal lifting + vacuum + laser drainage will solve the problem in the shortest possible time.

If you are preparing for or have had plastic surgery and you want to consolidate and improve the results. You want to erase any traces of the intervention, and accelerate tissue regeneration. Thermal lifting combined with the additional energies of TriActive Plus will prolong the results of successful plastic surgery by several years.

RF-lifting is, without a doubt, a victory of aesthetic medicine over the passage of time.


Radiofrequency skin tightening costs

Radiofrequency skin tightening is considered an optional cosmetic dermatology service, so the procedure is not covered by insurance. The cost of the Radio Frequency Skin Tightening depends on the specific type of treatment required and the part of the body to be treated. Generally speaking, a typical procedure costs between 1.000 and 4.000 USD.


Should I Use a Household Radio Frequency Machine?

The at-home RF skin tightening device can be used to comfortably rejuvenate and shape skin at home. The at-home RF equipment provides less energy than equipment in the dermatologist's office. Therefore, they should be used daily or weekly to achieve a firming effect equivalent to a single or biennial office visit. The at-home RF machines cost between 30 and 1.000 USD, making them more affordable than office treatments, but the trade-off between power and time is worth considering to see the results.

Additionally, professional radio frequency providers are trained to provide targeted professional treatment, minimizing any potential risk associated with the procedure.


Alternatives to RF therapy

  • Firming creams and lotions can be purchased over the counter or by prescription. They can be easily implemented in skin care routines, promote collagen production and improve skin sagging however the effect is subtle and not lasting and certain types of skin are sensitive to certain ingredients.
  • Ultrasound skin tightening is an effective anti-aging technology to combat the first signs of aging, it has no downtime and the side effects are similar to those of radiofrequency skin tightening, however results will be seen in 2-6 months and multiple treatments may be required to see results.
  • Microneedle radiofrequency skin tightening uses a needle or tube to apply heat to the precise location of the body. Results can be seen within 1 month and improvements continue up to a year. However sometimes it requires sedation and possible 1 day downtime. Skin care is needed after this procedure.



RF lifting is a procedure that is truly worth considering as it is non-invasive and the after pain associated with it is definitely lower than the pain resulting from other invasive procedures.

The RF lifting is a procedure available for all types of pockets as the price range can hit the maximum amount of 4.000 USD, but they can be performed for less than that depending on the medical facility.

Finally, the RF lifting is a great decision as the studies show that the outcome after this kind of procedure is more than successful. 


Other Articles