What is radiofrequency?
Radiofrequency consists of electromagnetic radiation. Rotational motion causes heat release.
The main effects that radiofrequency produces on the skin are:
- Collagen tension. Thermal damage: depending on the dosage, radiofrequency produces collagen tension or collagen denaturation, thus being useful for both firming and anti-cellulite treatments.
- Neocollagen production
- Increase of HSP47 proteins: an increase of HSP47 heat shock proteins, necessary for the structuring of collagen in triple helix, is generated.
- Metabolic acceleration. Cellular apoptosis: by accelerating cellular metabolism we increase the production of collagen and elastin, as well as force the death and cellular renewal of fibroblasts in poor condition.
- Increased vasodilation. And hyperemia, as well as lymphatic drainage.
- Anti-cellulite effect. With a high intensity dose, cellulite can be combated by denaturing the collagen that makes up the septa.
Types of radiofrequency
There are many technical characteristics to evaluate in order to choose the ideal radiofrequency equipment for the treatments we wish to perform.
There are different types on the market, mainly divided into monopolar and bipolar equipment.
This is equipment in which the electrodes are separated, having an “active” electrode (smaller size) and a return electrode.
Two modes are distinguished, capacitive and resistive. The capacitive electrode is coated with an insulating material, while the resistive electrode is steel with direct contact.
The capacitive mode generates a very shallow capacitor effect.
The resistive mode generates a very deep heating, suitable for physiotherapy treatments.
The monopolar has a higher risk of electrical path. The electrical pathway is the route that the energy takes through the body, in this case the radiofrequency. In monopolar mode, the energy passes through the body, passing through sensitive areas.
For medical-aesthetic treatments, the resistive system may be too deep and the capacitive system too superficial, making it a system that is not suitable for aesthetics but for physiotherapy.
They have both electrodes on the same applicator, so that the electrical path is close to the area of application.
There are no risks due to electrical path, since in bipolar mode it is confined to the area under the applicator electrodes.
Depending on the electrode configuration, for marketing reasons, some bipolar electrodes are called tripolar, pentapolar, etc. Although in reality they are all bipolar.
The depth can be modified by means of:
- Frequency: is the number of times per second that the polarity changes. It is measured in Hertz (Hz).
As an example, the electrical grid in Spain operates at 220V 50Hz, which means that it changes polarity 50 times per second.
Radiofrequency is usually used between 0.5 Mhz and 5 Mhz. Below 0.4 Mhz electricity is perceived. Above it is no longer perceived and a thermal and metabolic accelerator effect is obtained.
It has a fundamental effect on the control of the working depth. The higher the frequency, the lower the depth and vice versa. For example, at 0.8 Mhz it reaches 15 mm, at 1.6 Mhz it reaches 8 mm and at 2.5 Mhz it reaches 5 mm.
- Electrode spacing: the greater the electrode spacing, the greater the depth.
If there is an asymmetry in the application areas, the energy is concentrated on the smaller electrode.
- The voltage / emission power: the applied power also determines the depth. In this case it is controlled by the applied tension, which generates a greater or lesser applied energy and a variation in depth.
The power used, apart from the depth, decisively affects the effect on the tissue. Depending on the power and time of application we will have a stimulation effect or a thermal damage effect.
Thus, it is a very specific typology, being ideal for aesthetic medical treatments.
A good bipolar radiofrequency equipment allows to specifically control the working depth by varying factors such as emission frequency, output amplitude (voltage), electrode separation, ratio between electrode areas… etc. These characteristics are beyond the reach of monopolar equipment, which, although good for physiotherapy, being able to treat in great depth for muscular treatments, are not as effective in aesthetic treatments.
When we want to apply more power, to work deeper but without seeking thermal damage, we can achieve this by using the pulsed mode.
In pulsed mode we can reach the desired depth while the pauses allow us not to accumulate energy, avoiding thermal damage.
As we have seen, there are many factors to take into account when selecting equipment for our center. Ideally, select equipment that delivers:
- Bipolar application
- Various working frequencies
- Diversity of applicators
- High emission power
- Continuous/pulsed mode.
With these features, we will have a powerful tool with which to achieve excellent results in a very wide range of treatments.
It should be kept in mind that a correct application of radiofrequency can obtain firming results that would be difficult to achieve with other technologies.
As you can imagine, tripolar radiofrequency cannot exist, because it would have to have 3 magnetic poles.
It is simply a way of attracting attention or pretending that the machine is better. Three poles will do the same job as two.