Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon

This blog post will discuss how Radio Frequency is used to treat patients in tightening their skin, reducing stretchmarks, smoothing out cellulite, targeting fat, and even drastically reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Ink Illusions use the MicroDerm-RF device, using a combination of Fractional Radiofrequency (FRF) and micro-needling, to make you look younger and healthier again.

We will also discuss different types of radiofrequencies and how each type can be used in aesthetic treatments with the help of micro-needling. Let’s continue to understand the crucial aspects of MicroDerm-RF and different RF therapies.


What is Radio Frequency (RF)?

RFs are frequencies of electromagnetic waves, in the form of radiation, that oscillate.  In the case of a typical mobile phone device, their signals work in the range of 800 MHz to 2.69 GHz. The higher ranges of RFs are unsafe for biological forms or applications. They, therefore, are pre-removed from most transmitters which generate low power density waves for communication and have minimal effect on humans and animals. Hence, we can use our daily devices such as mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth waves and signals safely. X-rays have a frequency ranging from 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz, so not so safe and why there are strict protocols in place when having an X-ray.

For skin applications such as RF skin rightening, the form of radiofrequency uses around 1 billion times less energy compared to X-rays.

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Applications of RF on Aesthetic Treatments

RF waves heat up the deeper layers of the skin, whilst avoiding thermal injury to the top layer of the skin. The deeper layers are heated to around 122-167 °F. Rousseaux & Robson (2017) found that treating the skin for 3 minutes at a maintained temperature of 115 °F stimulated the release of “shock proteins”, leading to the creation of new collagen fibers.

There are certain aspects of treatment (the device and materials used) which affect the treatment outcome and efficacy.

Conductivity – What skin reactions occur during treatment is based on the conductivity power of the product used on the skin. Some liquids used on a dry epidermis (top layer of the skin) can evaporate during treatment if conductivity is high, which then requires cooling units. This also means the dermis gets less heat. With some RF-only treatments we use Ultrasound Gel to help conductivity, which doesn’t evaporate. With RF microneedling, we don’t use any product on the skin as any serum would evaporate and we also don’t want to use ultrasound gel as this would get pushed into the skin by the needles, which we definitely don’t want.

EMF Pattern – radiofrequency electromagnetic field (EMF) patterns determine what the device is used for. A more defined pattern effectively covers the skin region under treatment. The effectiveness can be optimized by enhancing the device’s size, shape, metal used, and how the energy is placed. Furthermore, current, power (in watts (W)), and frequency (Hz) changes and fluctuations can enhance the effect on the skin as needed.

Frequency (Hz) – This is the number of waves produced each second. This is low in RF devices used on the skin. There is perhaps only a small difference between 1-5 MHz. 1 MHz penetrates slightly deeper compared to 5Mhz, which is only required when targeting deeper fat cells. When combined with microneedling, this is less of an issue, since the needles enable the RF energy to penetrate deeper. As an rough example, if we set the needle depth at 3mm on a very fatty area of the body with the aim to target fat cells, this depth combined with a 5Mhz setting means the energy would penetrate at approximately 6-7mm, which is plenty to reach the desired target (fat cells).

Watts (W) – A watt is a unit of power. This is how powerful the machine is capable of. Generally, most effective devices will be in the range 60-80W. The 80W setting is very high and should only be used on very fatty areas after trying lower settings on previous client sessions. On the device the RF power setting may be shown as 1-10, meaning setting 10 will be full power at 80W.

Monopolar, Bipolar, Tripolar, Unipolar…. How many poles do we need??

In nature, there are only 2 poles with electricity – plus and minus or North and South.  Therefore, other names for devices such as tri-polar, octapolar etc are somewhat marketing tricks or strategies as it really isn’t possible to have more than 2 poles (although read on below).

Mono has a single electrode attached that is without mass, while the Bipolar has two electrodes embedded in the applicator.

Monopolar has to travel somewhere, so this penetrates deeper though the body tissue to the grounding pad (see diagram to the right). The current experienced by the patient’s skin is driven by the voltage difference between the electrode and the patient’s skin in mono polar.  This can be uncomfortable for the client and requires a lot of cooling to minimise any discomfort.  It is also not as safe.

In bipolar RF, the current goes from one electrode, through the skin, back to the 2nd electrode. Bipolar uses a back-and-forth current pass, using two electrodes.

The current can reach subcutaneous tissues only in monopolar, or bipolar to a lesser degree when used in conjunction with tiny needles penetrating deeper into the Dermis.

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Always keep in mind the current has to pass from A to B.  This current may pass through several routes to get there (see diagram below).

The treatments are non-invasive and can be used for the following applications:

  • Fat loss on any body area
  • Skin tightening on any area
  • Reduction in cellulite (targets fibrous bands)
  • Improve body contour
  • Under eye bags and wrinkle reduction

Bipolar offers a safe and steady energy application and distribution.

Multipolar devices can have one positive electrode, and then multiple negative electrodes, meaning the current passes from the positive electrode to several negative electrodes. This means that the energy distribution will be over a larger area, but someone “diluted” as it needs to spread through more tissue.  Or some newer technologies have multiple positive and multiple negative electrodes, as shown in the Multipolar diagram below.  The current passes from red to green (positive to negative).

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Bipolar RF and How it Works

The most common uses of Bipolar RF treatments are vacuum massage and facial treatment through RF, as well as skin tightening body treatment when combined with or without microneedling.  

As previously explained, Bipolar RF has two electrodes incorporated on the applicator head design which is placed on the client, instead of sticking one electrode to the patient (monopolar). So, the electric signals/current travels from one electrode via the skin back to the 2nd electrode, heating the tissue on its journey.  This also makes it safer and precise, as we can control more easily exactly there the current is passing through a targeted area.

Just to reiterate, Bipolar RF only works superficially – not at a great depth.  In conjunction with microneedling, we can allow the depth of the RF to penetrate deeper.  To give you an idea on depth penetration, Bipolar RF WITHOUT microneedling can penetrate anywhere from 2-8mm depending on the device structure and power emitted.  We then need to add the needle depth penetration into the equation.  With the MicroDerm-RF machine as an example, which we use at Ink Illusions, the needles can penetrate up to 3mm.  The RF will then penetrate from the tips of the needles to a further 2-5mm, depending on the setting used.  This makes a maximum RF depth capability of 8mm which is plenty to target fat cells.


What is Fractional RF, and How Does it Differ from Regular RF?

Fractional RF is just a different variant of bipolar frequency. In fractional RF, the electrode matrix is designed to segregate frequency ranges into different zones which are more spread out (rather than just 2 pins), which act as more than one ‘Thermozone’.  Thermozones are targeted areas in the skin (difference tissue structures) to allow for improved treatment and in a more precise manner.  The less pins, the more energy there will be per pin, since the energy Is distributed evenly over the number of pins.  Therefore, a 12-pin tip will have the most energy per pin.  For the 81-pin tip, we can increase the energy more to distribute higher power across more pins.  81 pins would be used for larger areas.  The cartridge holding the pins sits on top of the 2 electrodes and the energy is then distributed through those pins.

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Insulated microneedling needles vs non-insulated

When looking at a device, you may see they advertise their needle cartridges as either insulated or non-insulated.  As the diagram to the right demonstrates, if pins are insulated, only the RF comes put a the tip, not affecting the more superficial skin layers.  The non-insulated tips heat all the skin layers up the depth it penetrates.  Depending on the desired treatment outcome, you would choose one over the other.  When performing skin tightening, it is beneficial to treat the upper skin layers.  If you are only targeting fat, then insulated may be preferred.  The treatment outcome will not be that vast, but clients will feel the warmth more of non-insulated tips and may require a separate cooling device.

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Does Radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling have any effect on Melanin?

Melanin is the natural darker pigment our body produces, more so when exposed to UV light.  Darker skin types produce more melanin.  Melanin isn’t affected by RF solely, as the waves are high frequency but electrical rather than light-based.  Melanin is more affected by light, such as sunbeds and sunlight, rather than any electric signal or wave.  In lighter skin types, light treatments can break down pigmentation.  In darker skin types, light treatments can result in either hypo- or hyper- pigmentation.  Melanin is also produced in response to skin trauma, such as through needling too aggressively.  Due to some skin inflammation during treatment using RFs combined with micro-needling, there may be some hyperpigmentation, but this is usually minimal, fading during the healing process.  A test is always recommended is this may be a high risk in some individuals.

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Uses and Applications of Fractional Bipolar RF by Ink Illusions

The fractional RF (FRF) concept was generated from the same concept as fractional photothermolysis (FP) laser applications but with some differences. FP produces arrays of microscopic thermal wounds called microscopic treatment zones at certain depths in the skin without causing injury to the surrounding tissue. This controlled damage is not obvious because the epidermis (top layer of the skin) remains intact during treatment behaving like a natural bandage. The newer and better FRF method uses a series of pulses in microscopic columns that spatially produce thermal lesions.

FRF helps in firming the skin and with regular treatment creates skin tightening. This tightening is possible through the cutaneous tensioning that the heat causes, also stimulating the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein used by the skin to keep it plump, which declines with age.  It creates the framework of skin and gives skin its firmness. The treatment of FRF can be enhanced by inserting needles into the patient’s skin, targeting the dermis, working deeper in the skin. Each needle inserted up to 3 mm can benefit the dermis much deeper in the skin by combined use for FRF. Only on the face region, the needles are at max inserted to 1-1.5 mm.   We need to be careful using FRF with micro needling on the face, since it can target fat cells also if too deep, which isn’t always wanted.  For just skin tightening without fat loss, the depth needs to be around 1mm with a low RF setting.

The purpose of inserting needles is to give the dermis cells constant thermos-zones to burn fat or help tighten the skin, as mentioned before. Spaces left from the evaporation of skin and fats are replaced by new tissues within 10-12 weeks, further enhancing the skin’s outlook. So, the skin continues to improve for months following treatment.  The treatment improves the reticular dermis with enhanced volume, collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.


Outcome of the treatment

Although results will vary from person to person, immediate effects can sometimes be seen, and the skin nearly always feels tighter immediately after treatment.  The treatment starts showing significant results around 4 weeks following treatment.  The skin will look more plump, with less wrinkles, less laxity, and a healthy glow when the face is treated.  Following a course of treatments will result in more obvious results, and longer term benefits.


RF Microneedling observations

Fractional Radio Frequency Microneedling – The Jargon Ink Illusions

Following are some of the notable evaluations:

  • FRF helps improves photoaging and skin laxity
  • Patients satisfaction is high (from unbiased sources)
  • Improvement in skin textures has been shown at 40% for type II-IV skins, compared to 20-50% in Asian women
  • Darker skin patients with V-VI skin types experienced significant improvement though no pigment changes
  • Minimal discomfort is observed, with minimal downtime

RF Microneedling observations

Let’s learn more about how we can help improve your skin using Fractional Radiofrequency Microneedling…

Benefits of our MicroDerm-RF Treatment

Our MicroDerm technology, a combination of Fractional RF and micro-needling, can enhance and tighten your skin, making it smooth and less lax. This treatment tightens your skin and gives it a fresh texture, tone, and tightness. Our treatments minimize the aging signs because of their collagen-stimulating ability, with minimal to no down-time.  The treatment is not painful and it is quick.


Rejuvenating Serum

At Ink Illusions, we like to try to achieve the best results possible which is why we don’t scrimp on serum costs to help further – we a high-quality serum with our RF microneedling treatment.  The serum contains vitamins, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, and 59 other valuable ingredients that the skin can use when healing.

The serum contains New Cellular Treatment Factor (NCTF) and HA that helps deeply nourish lines smoothening, and new collagen creation, among many other benefits. This revolutionary anti-aging serum, when inserted in the skin supplies the dermis with essential ingredients that it needs to boost fibroblasts which in turn help to stimulate the collagen and elastin production resulting in the ultimate skin rejuvenation, revitalization and radiance.


Number of Sessions

The MicroDerm RF micro-needling works gradually throughout 3-6 treatments showing gradual positive results.  More than a single session is required to show valuable difference.

Most sessions can last for around 30-60 minutes or more, depending on which target area you have opted for. When having a facial treatment, we also include a soothing face mask, followed by the application of an aftercare serum and then cream.  We also provide aftercare recovery cream to take home (also containing lots of ingredients to help you heal!).


Conditions Fractional Radiofrequency Microneedling can treat:

• Acne Scarring

• Cellulite

• Sun Damage

• Sagging Skin

• Stretch Marks

• Wrinkles

• Reduces pore size

• Anti-aging and collagen stimulation


Cost Per Session

Whether you are booking a complete course of 6 or more sessions, typical sessions start from $144.00 for a small area (e.g. treating undereye bags). 

For more detailed pricing and attractive packages, together with more before and after photos of Fractional Radiofrequency Microneedling, please visit the website link here: 


RF Microneedling observations

If you want to know more about how we can help you with this revolutionary treatment, feel free to contact us.   We also provide training if you are interested in offering this treatment to your own clients.

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