Secret RF Micro-Needle Fractional Radio Frequency
What is the Secret RF and how does it work?
The Secret RF combines two modalities, micro-needling and radiofrequency (RF) energy to tighten skin and improve fine lines, wrinkles, skin elasticity, thinning skin, and facial acne scarring. Skin needling or micro-needling and radiofrequency are both well established treatments that are normally performed individually to induce new collagen to improve the skin. The Secret RF combines both of these technologies together in a single treatment to synergise their effects on the skin.
Skin needling is used to create thousands of micro-injuries to the skin. This mechanically induces the production of new collagen in the skin by creating a small injury to the skin that the skin repairs by producing more collagen.
Conversely, radiofrequency (RF) treatments generate heat in the skin to produce new collagen. Research has shown that heating the skin can cause collagen fibres to shrink and tighten immediately. At 40-48 degrees celsius, the bonds between the collagen fibres denature. Collagen is like a spring with its coils held apart by these bonds, and when these bonds are denatured by heat, collagen recoils together leading to tightening of the skin. At 55 to 70 degrees celsius, the skin’s collagen is coagulated, which causes immediate collagen shrinkage and commences the body’s wound healing process to further generate more collagen and elastin.
External RF machines deliver energy through the surface of the skin through skin contact with an electrode. These machines heat the skin from the superficial layers to the deep layers. The limitation of external RF machines is that the superficial skin layer (epidermis) is over-heated before an adequate degree of heating can occur in deeper layers. A skin surface temperature of about 40 degrees celsius can be achieved before pain or over-heating of the epidermis occurs.
The Secret RF overcomes this limitation by delivering the RF energy internally through the tips of the multiple needles inserted into the skin. The Secret RF has 25 micro-needles in its handpiece arranged in a 5 x 5 grid. These needles are retracted until triggered and sequentially fired into the skin. They can be adjusted by the operator to penetrate from 0.5mm to 3.5mm deep into the skin depending on the skin concern to be treated. Once inside the skin, the tips of the needles transmit focused radiofrequency energy which causes dermal coagulation and induces new collagen formation and remodelling. The temperature that is achieved, between 55 to 70 degrees celsius, is the ideal temperature for producing collagen remodelling and stimulation. Furthermore, the base of the needles are insulated, so that RF energy is only delivered at the tips of the needles, and does not affect the superficial layers of the skin. Each stamp of the handpiece fires the 25 needles into the small gridded square area on the skin. The treatment area is systematically stamped with the handpiece to deliver thousands of micro-injuries to the skin, another advantage over conventional pen-like needling machines that often end up “scratching” when dragged across the skin. The Secret RF delivers radiofrequency energy to the skin in a fractional manner through the 25 needles. The advantage of fractional devices is that not all parts of the skin are treated, which allows for faster healing times .Unlike external RF devices which pass RF energy through the surface of the skin, the fractional nature of the Secret RF treatment has less chance of bulk heating and burning the skin.
Overall, the effect of the Secret RF is therefore two-fold; collagen production is induced both by the mechanical effects of micro-needling, and the radiofrequency energy delivered through the tips of the needles.
It is important to note the Secret RF needling can have some advantages over laser treatments which must go through all layers of the skin to reach the deeper layers. Lasers can be viewed as an ‘outside to inside’ treatment. The laser must penetrate through all layers of the skin to reach its target, whereas the Secret RF is able to treat the skin from the ‘inside-out’. The needles penetrate the skin and the energy is delivered only at the tips of the needles. This has a distinct advantage in the treatment of skin of colour. Laser can often induce pigment changes in skin of colour (i.e. cause unwanted darkening or lightening of the skin after treatment). Because the Secret RF delivers energy from ‘inside’ the skin, and also because radiofrequency is not attracted to melanin or the pigment in the skin (like some lasers are), the incidence of pigment changes in the skin is significantly less.
What can be treated?
The Secret RF is an effective treatment for many concerns including:
- Skin laxity in the neck and face, and also skin on any part of the body
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Thinning and ageing skin
- Acne scarring
- Sebaceous Gland Ablation (SGA) which helps to treat active acne (by heating sebaceous glands in the skin)
- Thermo-Coagulation of facial veins (capillaries)
The Secret RF is particularly suited to the treatment of olive or darker skin types. Unlike laser treatments, there is minimal risk of causing hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation post treatment, as the energy is delivered from the inside of the skin, and not from the outside like in laser treatments.
What to expect during and after a Secret RF treatment
Prior to the treatment your skin is numbed with a strong topical anaesthetic to minimise discomfort. There is some mild discomfort felt over boney structures such as your jaw line and cheek bones. Your skin feels warm and tight, similar to that of sunburn. Pinpoint bleeding may occur during treatment, this will have resolved before you leave.
At the conclusion of the treatment your skin will have mild to moderate erythema (redness of the skin) and some transient oedema (swelling). These are normal and expected outcomes which settle shortly after treatment and resolve over the following 1-2 days.
You may feel a tightening and tender sensation, this may feel like sunburn or windburn. This will resolve within 24 hours post treatment.
Some clients may experience mild crusting post treatment, these will dry on the skin and slowly resolve, this can take up to 2 weeks for some clients. These are not to be picked or scratched off as this may encourage scaring.
After care instructions are provided along with specifically prescribed products to help sooth the skin and encourage skin hydration.
How many treatments are required?
There can be variations between each individual, and the number of Secret RF sessions they require to achieve their desired results. Whilst there is a variation in treatments required we recommend a minimum of 3 sessions.
After your first treatment you will begin to see the results at the 8 week mark. A positive effect can be seen immediately post treatment due to the lifting and tightening from the temporary collagen shrinkage lasting approximately 1 week. The temporary collagen shrinkage is then replaced by collagen tightening associated with the reparative and remodelling phases of wound healing. From here you will experience continued improvement to the treated area between 3 to 6 months or longer post treatment.
The effect of the Secret RF treatment can last several years, depending on each individual’s collagen regeneration and remodelling time.
What results can be achieved?
As mentioned above the Secret RF is an effective treatment for skin laxity and acne scarring. These results are achieved through the lifting, tightening, firming and scar untethering properties of the treatment.
The lifting, tightening and firming comes from the combination of control micro wounds from the needling and electro-thermal heating of the collagen from the RF element.
Untethering of scars is an important aspect to treating acne scarring. The needles slowly break the bonds inside the scars pulling the surface of the skin downward into a dip, hollow or dent. Once the tethering is reduced it allows the collagen remodelling below the scar to lift the skin. Over the course of treatments and the lead time period of remodelling the appearance of the scar is reduced and the skin’s surface tightens, lifts and smooths.
Secret RF for treatment of acne scarring in olive or darker skin types
The Secret RF has revolutionised the treatment of acne scarring, in particular in those with olive or darker skin types.
Laser treatment for acne scarring in olive or darker skin types carries a significant risk of pigmentation changes in the skin post treatment, in particular, darkening of the skin which is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Some lasers are actually attracted to the melanin or pigment in the skin, which makes darker skin more attracted to these lasers. Furthermore, all lasers need to pass through from the superficial layers of the skin to the deep layers of the skin, which also increase the risk of pigmentation changes.
Skin needling is also an effective treatment for acne scarring, and it carries much less risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation than laser treatments. Surgical skin needling, which involves rolling a cylindrical roller with 3mm needle lengths over the skin, can cause around 10 days of downtime for the patient. It causes significant swelling and trauma to the skin. It is also a more involved treatment than the Secret RF, as it requires local anaesthetic to be injected into the face.
The Secret RF is able to effectively treat acne scarring in olive or darker skins with only a few days of downtime. There is significantly less risk of pigmentation changes when compared to laser treatments for acne scarring. As the radiofrequency energy bypasses the superficial layers of the skin by being delivered to the tips only of insulated needles, the risk of injury to the superficial epidermis (top layers of the skin) is minimised. This reduces both the visible recovery time and risk of pigmentation changes in the skin post-treatment. Rates of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation were found to be approximately 3-4% only. By combining the effects of skin needling with radiofrequency, the Secret RF effectively treats acne scarring with relatively little downtime. Although equally effective in fair skin types, it is a preferred treatment for the treatment of acne scarring in olive or darker skin types.