As patients have been searching for non-surgical procedures in order to avoid the associated risks and, at the same time, reduce the time needed for recovery compared to classic surgical procedures, this urge has been met by innovating many techniques using different methods such as radiofrequency and high intensity focused ultrasound; which is known as HIFU treatment.
For more than a decade, an urge from the public has appeared in need of non-invasive treatment for the sagging skin, due to the complications of aging such as rearrangement of the subcutaneous fat, thinning of the epidermis, or loss of the connective tissue.
As they are both two of the most effective and efficient methods used for skin tightening, we will be discussing the main differences between them, in this article.
what is the main difference between hifu & radio frequency?
From a medical and purely scientific point of view, Studies have shown the influence of both techniques; High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and Radio Frequency (RF), as non-invasive treatments for skin sagging, and the following results were reported, as they have a mechanism to function under a contained thermal injury:
So, to know the exact function of each procedure on both neocollagenesis and neoelastogenesis in different layers of the skin, a comparative analysis had been done after undergoing sessions of both procedures; HIFU treatment and Radio Frequency.
After 2 months of treating the dermis by both procedures; HIFU treatment and Radio Frequency, histometric analysis was carried out in each layer of the skin including the upper, middle and lower dermis, in addition to the papillary layer as well to detect the levels of collagen and elastic fibers (elastin plastin), The results were as the following:
After treating the skin with Radio Frequency “focused ultrasound” that was monopolar in particular, a higher level of collagen was found in upper, middle, and deeper layers of the dermis, meaning neocollagenesis was in general motivated by monopolar RF in certain layers while higher levels of elastin were found in the papillary layer of the dermis in addition to the upper and middle layers meaning that neoelastogenesis was detected in 3 layers including the papillary layer.
HIFU treatment (high intensity focused ultrasound)
After treating the skin with HIFU, similar to a thread lifting procedure higher levels of collagen was detected in only 2 layers of the dermis; middle and deepest layers, meaning that neocollagenesis were carried out in only these 2 layers while higher levels of elastin were found only in the deepest layer of the dermis, meaning that neoelastogensis was carried out in only one layer of the skin. However, the HIFU technique resulted in producing the highest levels of both collagen and elastin in these deep layers of the dermis.
So, in conclusion, HIFU treatment is mainly hitting deep layers of the skin and directly affects focal regions. Radio Frequency especially the Monopolar RF also hits deep layers of the skin but affects the diffuse regions.
what of both RF & HIFU could fit better for each patient?
high intensity focused ultrasound for skin tightening
From a general point o view, As the HIFU technique “focused ultrasound” is based on using ultrasound energy in heating up the layers underneath the surface skin, a gradual skin tightening effect begins to show on the treated skin. high intensity focused ultrasound can cause new collagen to start forming, which tends to compensate for the collagen lost mainly by age and genetics. This results in lifted and tightened skin which gives the desired youthful appearance.
HIFU technique (ultrasound skin tightening) is mainly applied on certain areas such as the neck, forehead, eyebrows, and jawline. These areas are mainly influenced by the heavy decrease in elasticity that is caused by aging, therefore wrinkles, lines, and folds mostly appear.
Radio frequency (RF) in aesthetic medicine
On the other hand, using the Radio Frequency technique is basically based on electromagnetic waves to affect the deep tissues of the skin mainly by heating. radio frequency skin tightening is a procedure that results in producing new collagen fibers by releasing proteins. This process requires having the temperatures adjusted and monitored throughout the session. Therapy provided by Radio Frequency can give the tightened and lifted appearance of the skin that could be noticeable after a few sessions.
Which technique is better suited for patients?
Due to crucial factors that generally affect any living human such as genetics and lifestyle, everyone ages uniquely than the other. These factors can speed up the process of skin aging.
However, the skin responds to volume lost by aging factors by sinking. Thus creating a pale, tired appearance. This could be reversed by Radio Frequency technology along with some cosmetic injections for reaching skin tightening.
On the other hand, when skin responds to aging factors by sagging, this is mainly due to loss of elastic and collagen fibers. high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) here could be the most effective because of the tightening effect provided to the SMAS layer of the skin directly to get rid of the sagging appearance. Also, the HIFU technique could be a method of losing excess fat and tissue in the lower face that worsens the sagging appearance.
Meanwhile, when skin responds to the collagen loss by wrinkling, especially in the areas around lips, eyes, jawline, and brows, both procedures; HIFU and Radio Frequency, can be used in combination along with cosmetic injections to have the best effect. These together have the optimum result especially when wrinkles are the main concern to the patient.
In other cases, when patients suffer from both wrinkles and sagging, the combined treatment is also favored, however, both procedures can’t be carried out together at the same time. So that is mainly why every patient gets their personalized plan for treatment.