By Julie-Ann Sherlock

The pressure to look at least 10 years younger than our age is very real when you get into your mid-thirties and onwards. We don’t want deep wrinkles or lines that expose our stresses or partying from our 20s, so we look for ways to slow down our skin’s ageing processes and help us to appear fresh-faced and youthful. 

There is a world of treatments out there, from surgical fixes to botox and gemstones and one of the latest “everybody-swears-by-it” trends, Radiofrequency (RF) Therapy. But what is it? Does it really work?

What The F Is RF?

This non-invasive therapy works by sending Radiofrequency waves into the skin to heat it up and cause damage to the collagen. When the collagen is destroyed or damaged, the skin naturally tries to create more, boosting the levels and bringing back some elasticity and firmness to your face. 

The low levels of RF are emitted into the skin using a unique wand-like device and is a painless procedure. Still, some people may feel their face is a little uncomfortably hot due to the heat going into the skin and may suffer from some redness for a few hours or a day. 

The waves of RF heat up the dermis and damage the collagen already in your skin, but it can take a few weeks or months before you really notice any difference in the tautness or reduction of wrinkles. It can also take several sessions; 5 to 6 are recommended for a real difference to be seen, but thankfully each treatment is short, lasting approximately 30 minutes. 

Does It Really Work?

I recently met an American woman who swears by it, and I have to say, she looks younger than her age. But this is still not enough evidence for me. I mean, my surname is Sherlock, so it’s elementary that I need to delve a little deeper! 

While anecdotally, there seems to be great feedback for RF, with people clearly happy with their results, scientifically, there isn’t much evidence to support this. 

A paper from the Brazilian Society of Dermatology’s official publication found that “RF for the treatment of skin laxity is still a myth to be clarified” as there were insufficient clinical trials to show that it was anything other than “based more on marketing than on technical-scientific reasons”. 

So while the research carried out was inconclusive, they did warn that any use of RF must be carried out by a professional, or it could cause more harm than good. 

Then along came a study in the International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that concluded that the treatment was a “safe and effective method to obtain soft tissue tightening”. They found that the treatment was more effective on younger skin but was hit and miss for older patients. 

Ummm, since it’s when we are older that we need it, I am still not convinced it is “all that”. 

Yet other studies show that it does work. Some have suggested that RF be used in conjunction with other therapies such as pulsed electromagnetic treatment for better contouring results. Another experiment found that monopolar radiofrequency (MRF) treatments could significantly reduce the wrinkles in the middle-aged women they used as their case study. 

Can It Damage Your Skin?

So far, all research shows that this is a safe treatment for most people. But, as with most things in life, sometimes, there can be problems. Some people have experienced pain, bruising, burns and even permanent scarring from using RF. There are always some risks of infections in any procedure too. 

To minimise the risk of any damage, choose a qualified, approved practitioner to carry out any work on your skin.

Is It Expensive? 

The “how long is a piece of string?” conundrum springs to mind here. As with most things, it depends on geographic location and the clinic you chose. In the US, a reputable dermatologist or plastic surgeon could charge you around $400 USD per treatment, while in Singapore, the cost is about $200 USD. 

It may be possible to get this therapy cheaper in many places, but remember that finding a qualified practitioner who won’t damage your skin is much more important than saving a few dollars. 

If you go for this treatment, you obviously care about your face, so don’t allow some back-street, dodgy-looking therapist loose on your loose skin, or you may end up having to pay a hefty price for repair work. 

It seems to me that better clinical trials are needed if we are really going to get to the bottom of this and find some conclusive evidence that it is worth the (sometimes) hefty price.

But, since Marcia looks fantastic and swears by it, I won’t rule this out as a possible way to slow the passing of time on my face. 

Have you had it done? Let us know below.