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Skin Rejuvenation Devices in the Medical Spa

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS; Tracy L. Drumm; and Terri A. Wojak
Posted: February 28, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Radio frequency. Radio frequency is another thermal device that is used to reduce the signs of aging by producing a tightening effect. These devices emit energy in the form of electromagnetic waves that heat up the dermis, causing collagen stimulation and tightening. This treatment is most commonly used for sagging skin, fine lines and age-prevention. During the service, the epidermis is protected with a cooling device that prevents the skin from overheating as the energy is directed to the deeper dermis. Because the heat is nonspecific, there is little risk to those with darker skin types. Therefore, unlike IPL and visual light lasers where light is attracted to color, this device can be used safely on all skin types.

The heat from radio frequency treatments causes some contraction of the skin that can be seen immediately; however, most skin-tightening becomes evident by four to six weeks, and continues throughout the next three to 12 months. Because the amount of tissue tightening is subtle, it can sometimes be difficult to see even the best results. Some providers recommend that patients be warned that they may not experience noticeable results after, or they may see only modest improvements. Patients must be thoroughly educated on what they can expect with this procedure, and understand that it is not comparable to a face lift, as some equipment manufacturers claim.

Esthetician’s point of view: Terri A. Wojak

There are now several devices available that can be used for skin rejuvenation by skin care professionals, as well as devices that the client can use at home. Although the at-home treatments use less energy, they are still effective for certain skin conditions and can be utilized to maintain the results of medical treatments. As with all treatments, clients must be educated properly, and it is important for them to know that several services performed more frequently will likely be needed to achieve the desired results. Some of the more popular skin rejuvenation devices used by skin care professionals include ultrasound, light-emitting diode (LED) and microcurrent.

Ultrasound. Ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure that utilizes a rapidly oscillating handpiece to create sound waves that are conducted to the epidermal skin tissues through a water-based gel. The physiological benefits of ultrasound are categorized as thermal and nonthermal.

Thermally, ultrasound waves can cause local tissues to heat up to 40–45°C or 104–113°F, which seems to be the magic temperature for stimulating collagen production.

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