What is radiofrequency (RF)?
RF energy delivery to the skin generates heat that can target and treat across the skins multiple layers (epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous).
RF works by passing a current instead of light or laser through the tissue to produce small thermal wounds (coagulation) in skin which, in turn, stimulates dermal remodelling to produce new collagen/elastin and soften scar defects. Tissue regeneration and remodelling lead to skin tightening and overall improvement in skin appearance including fine lines, wrinkles, and pores.
Radiofrequency also results in a greater degree of elastin production than e.g. CO2 laser. Elastin fibres are a crucial component of the skin’s extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM also contains collagen and the skin’s natural hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans that hold and retain skin water and moisture. Elastin is important in providing both elasticity and resilience to the skin. Elastin allows skin to both stretch and then return to its original shape, this is important for the face including facial expression (elastin allows facial expression but without needing marked and permanent facial expression lines – frown, forehead, crows feet…). Elastin works with collagen fibres collaborating to allow the skin to withstand stretching and movement without losing its form. A reduction in elasticity as occurs with age, sun damage and smoking can contribute to the development of sagging (and wrinkled) skin.
When current is applied to tissue it meets resistance (called impedance). This resistance to conduction converts the current into thermal or heat energy. Different components of the skin differ in their resistance or impedance. This can be used for treatment benefits. Blood vessels (high conductivity) for example can also be targeted by radiofrequency. This is utilized to reduce skin redness. Fat such as unwanted subcutaneous fat accumulation in the jowls or double chin or that in enlarged oil glands (sebaceous hyperplasia) has high electrical resistance and can also be targeted by radiofrequency treatments.
Targeting and repairing the collagen layer has also been associated with a clinical improvement in the skin’s surface epidermal layer with a reduction in pigment lesions and pigmentation noted in studies.
Sublative (ablative) RF also targets the top layer of the skin (epidermis) to assist with addressing epidermal concerns including age spots. Combination treatments can also increase photorejuvenation benefits to better address surface photoaging changes, skin texture and pigment lesions.
Matrix Pro micro-needling allows use of pre-set depths allowing tailoring of the treatment to different skin areas (e.g. around the eyes or mouth) and particular skin problems (e.g. the wide variety of skin changes seen with acne scarring or skin redness and unwanted fat),
Fractional radiofrequency devices such as Matrix Pro radiofrequency microneedling and sublative RF create thermally affected micro-zones allowing rapid initial healing and recovery (which goes with reduced treatment risks). Benefits however can continue to be seen for up to several months after the last treatment.
Why choose the Candela Matrix over other radiofrequency devices?
The Matrix combines 3 radiofrequency devices in one
- Sublative RF (targeting the top skin layer and upper collagen layer)
- Sublime (combines bipolar RF with infrared (IR) light for deeper collagen targeting)
Sublative and Sublime RF make an excellent combination treatment (dermal and textural skin remodelling and targeting)
- Matrix Pro RF micro needling (allows precise targeting of the full thickness of the skin’s collagen and subcutaneous fat layer). Matrix RF microneedling also allows 3 different skin depths to be treated using three different tailored energy levels. This is useful in helping target acne scars, skin tightening and photorejuvenation (fine lines, wrinkles and texture) and targeting excess or unwanted jowl and chin fat.
- Skin tightening (skin laxity / sagging skin – head and neck – body, wrinkles)
- Fat reduction (e.g. double chin and jowls)
- Skin resurfacing/Photorejuvenation (skin tone, texture, wrinkles, pores, collagen contraction and stimulation)
- Large pores
- Acne (and other) scarring [atrophic] (microneedle bipolar RF + fractional bipolar RF)
- Striae / Stretch marks
- Under eye bags
Because RF’s action is independent of skin colour (no light or laser energy involved), RF can be utilized in both fair and darker skin types.
How many treatments
Treatment results are optimal approximately 3 months after final treatment
Acne scarring of mild to moderate severity (25-75% improvement (3-4 treatments))
Best in early signs of skin ageing (or used in combination)
Side Effects and Safety Considerations
Expected side effects include: transient pain, redness, swelling, pinpoint bleeding and scabbing.
Transient acne like changes
Itching, tenderness and burning are usually minimal and transient
Expected side effects are self-limited and generally settle over days to a week.
During the treatment muscle twitching can occur
The fractional nature of bipolar radiofrequency allows for more rapid healing and recovery
Pigment changes such as post inflammatory hyper- and hypo-pigmentation are uncommon with radiofrequency (increase or decrease in pigmentation)
Uncommon or rare complications can include:
- Thermal burns and loss of the skins supporting or subcutaneous fat.
- Infection including HSV-1 reactivation (cold sore virus)
- Numbness or nerve damage (rare, usually transient but may vary in duration)
The Matrix uses AI to measure and adjust the current to improve treatment effects and reduce treatment risk. The depth is also adjusted depending on the area being treated to better target treatments.
Matrix treatments should be avoided in people with electronic implantable devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and nerve stimulators.
Treatment should also be avoided in areas located over superficial metal or other implants such as pins, screws, and plates.
Schedule an appointment with our experienced team of cosmetic dermatology nurses, dermal assistant and/or dermatologists to see if this treatment and its risks are right for you, your skin condition, and your needs.