Radio Frequency Skin Tightening: Does It Work And Is It Safe?

A relative newcomer to non-surgical aesthetics, Radio Frequency (RF) skin tightening therapy has emerged as one of the most popular non-invasive aesthetic treatments since its introduction to the industry in 2001.  Its popularity shows no sign of dwindling with Radio Frequency-based non-surgical treatments accounting for approximately 35% of treatments in 2021 alone.

The Science Behind Radio Frequency Skin Tightening

Now a staple in aesthetic clinics across the globe, the Radio Frequency dielectric heating principle (also known as resistive or ohmic heating) exposes water in the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) to electric currents between two electrodes of opposite poles (an emitter and receiver) with the intention of inducing localised dermal heating and stimulating collagen synthesis.

When RF energy is passed into tissue, the positively charged sides of the water molecules are attracted to the negative current while the negatively charged sides of the water molecule are attracted to the positive current.   As the current is alternating rapidly, the water molecules also change position accordingly, causing them to rotate and “friction”. The tissue resistance transforms electrical energy into heat.

Bipolar Radio Frequency energy waves provide superficial heating and monopolar provide deep thermal heating.  Induced heating of body tissues may provoke various physiological and thermoregulatory responses, such as collagen denaturation and renewal to obtain skin firming in case of tissue laxity.  This results in tighter, firmer looking skin.

In addition, stimulated fibroblast activity results in the natural production of Hyaluronic Acid, elastin and collagen fibres which are essential to the maintenance of skin elasticity and lead to clinical “tightening” and “rejuvenation”.

Common Types Of RF Skin Tightening Facials In The UK

– Exilis: a monopolar Radio Frequency device that reports an average reduction of skin laxity of 35%.

– Profound RF: Combines microneedling and Radio Frequency technologies for skin tightening and rejuvenating effects.

– Thermage: Non-invasive Radio Frequency device to enhance skin laxity.

– ThermiTight: Uses controlled Radio Frequency to tighten skin.

NuEraTight with Focal RF Technology: An advanced electro-medical device uses Radio Frequency (RF) waves to target multiple concerns including Skin Tightening, Wrinkle Reduction, Fat Reduction and Cellulite Reduction.  Its FocalRF Technology utilises multiple RF frequencies to dial-in the depth of energy penetration accounting for different indications and tissue thickness variations between body areas and patients.

Is Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Safe?

Radio Frequency skin tightening is a well-tolerated treatment modality that has an excellent and clinically supported safety record.  The FDA has approved Radio Frequency devices for skin tightening.  Practitioners should research thoroughly, and assess clinical studies and data relating to Radio Frequency devices prior to purchasing.

Does Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Work?

Radio Frequency is an effective treatment modality for skin tightening and although doesn’t provide a permanent resolution for patients, has good efficacy records the results of which can last for up to a year after treatment has taken place.

Radio Frequency Skin Tightening: Before And After Photos

** PLEASE NOTE.  The B+A’s in the NuEra Casebook do not demonstrate results on facial skin laxity (body only), so these will need to be sourced.

Is RF Skin Tightening A Good Alternative To A Face Lift?

Radio Frequency skin tightening offers a less invasive option to surgical face lifts, and although is a less permanent solution to surgery, requires less downtime and financial commitment.  Suitability of treatment for patients depends on the circumstances and expectations of the individual, and therefore a detailed and robust consultation process should be in place to ensure all aspects of treatment protocol are discussed thoroughly.

Benefits of Radio Frequency

Forehead Skin Tightening

The sinciput area takes up approximately one third of the face and extrinsic changes to the frontal bone and loss of soft tissue due to the natural ageing process can contribute to laxity and wrinkles in this area.  Dermal heating with Radio Frequency remodels dermal density in this area to create a plumper, tighter and lifted effect.

Eyebrow Skin Tightening

Radio Frequency can be used as a viable non-surgical alternative to a brow lift thanks to collagen synthesis as a result of dermal heating.

Periorbital Skin Tightening

The delicate nature of the periorbital area means that it is one of the first areas of the face to show visible signs of ageing and one of the most popular areas for cosmetic surgery across the globe. Blepharoplasty is an effective surgical option, but carries with it risk associated with surgery.  The targeted nature of Radio Frequency treatments means that the periorbital area can be targeted in a much less-invasive way with less risk of adverse events. Patients can expect a mild to moderate improvement in skin laxity.

Cheek Tightening

Skin laxity issues are common in the buccal area due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.  Facial rejuvenation of the buccal area using Radio Frequency technology remodels subcutaneous adipose tissue in the area, stimulates collagen synthesis and decreases the surface area to offer a tightening and lifting effect.

Long-Lasting Effects

One of the most significant advantages of Radio Frequency Skin Tightening is that as well as providing instant improvements, the visible tightening results of the treatment continue to improve up to six months after treatment has taken place.  Combined with minimal downtime, Radio Frequency is an extremely attractive proposition for those who want a credible, but less invasive alternative to surgery.

Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Side Effects

Pain – moderate pain may occur during or after treatment, but this depends on the individual’s propensity to pain.

Erythema – as Radio Frequency treatments generate heat, some level of erythema may occur immediately after the treatment and typically resolve within a few days.

Edema – mild edema may occur immediately after the treatment and typically resolve within a few days.

Additional Side Effects

Adverse side effects of treatment are unlikely but possible and dependent on skin type and frequency selected.  Adverse events might include:

– Transient skin pigmentation changes may resolve within a few months but may last longer. In rare cases, skin pigmentation changes may be permanent.

– Moderate burning sensation during treatment or following treatment.

– Crusting and blistering of the treated area.

– Purpura confined to the exposure area.

– Infection at the treatment area.

– Scarring is a possibility but is rare.

– Temporary dysestesia is possible but is rare.

– Transient trigeminal neuralgia is possible.

RF Skin Tightening Cost

There is no standardised pricing structure for Radio Frequency skin tightening and cost of treatment varies due to clinic locality and the area of the body being treated.

When consulting with a patient it is useful to mention that the standard treatment course for Radio Frequency skin tightening is 4-6 treatments, with an interval of 1-3 weeks in between.  Maintenance sessions and follow-up are routinely booked at 2-3 months (depending on the individual’s skin condition and recovery rate).

It can be beneficial to the patient to quote a cost for a course of treatments as opposed to individual sessions so that they can consider the financial implications of a potential treatment programme effectively.  As guidance, a course of six facial treatments can cost in the region of £1,200 whilst a course of six body treatments can cost in the region of £2,400. *

* Costs based on using the NuEra Tight with Focal RF technology from Renee Lapino.

Should I Use An At-Home Radio Frequency Machine?

Several at-home Radio Frequency devices have launched to market in recent years, and although are significantly cheaper than a course of treatments in clinic, do not carry the same degree of efficacy or safety guarantees than a clinical setting will provide.  At-home devices are operated by untrained individuals and the technology, although may provide some effect, will not offer the same level of results that an FDA-approved clinic-based device can offer.

Alternatives Methods to RF Skin Tightening

Alternative methods to Radio Frequency Skin Tightening include:

Method Pros Cons
Topical Creams Easily accessible


Some tightening effects

Superficial results

Some ingredients can cause some level of sensitivity.

Ultrasound No downtime

Visible results

May require multiple treatment sessions to achieve noticeable effects
Laser Effective

Little to no downtime

No major side effects

May require multiple treatment sessions to achieve noticeable effects

Can take time for results to become noticeable

Microneedling Results can continue to be seen for up to a year post-treatment Requires sedation and possible downtime of a day
Plastic Surgery (rhytidectomy or facelift) Immediate results

Long-lasting effects (over 5 years after treatment)

Surgery carries risk of complications and side effects

Requires sedation

Long post-surgery downtime (10-21 days)

Radio Frequency Facials: Safe, Effective, And Worth Every Penny

In conclusion, Radio Frequency Skin Tightening is a safe, effective and well-tolerated treatment protocol that requires little to no downtime, but that has high levels of patient satisfaction.  Suitable for use on all Fitzpatrick skin types, treatment with Radio Frequency require minimal downtime and carry minimal risk of adverse events making it a beneficial treatment modality for patients and practitioners alike.

With technological advancements it’s an area of aesthetics that is likely to evolve and enjoy good growth.  Although treatment can require significant financial investment from patients, the benefits of the treatment outweighs any significant additional cost that they may have spent in the future.

NuEra® Tight is an advanced electro-medical device uses Radio Frequency (RF) waves to target multiple concerns including Skin Tightening, Wrinkle Reduction, Fat Reduction and Cellulite Reduction.  Its FocalRF Technology utilises multiple RF frequencies to dial-in the depth of energy penetration accounting for different indications and tissue thickness variations between body areas and patients. It can be used on the face and body and provides an ideal adjunct to injectables.  Patient results have been encouraging and patient reported outcomes include no pain or downtime.  On average, a decrease in fat volume and improvement in tissue tone is visible 3–8 weeks after treatment.

About Lumenis
Lumenis is a global leader in the field of minimally-invasive clinical solutions for the Surgical, Ophthalmology, and Aesthetic markets, and is a world-renowned expert in developing and commercializing innovative energy-based technologies, including Laser, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio-Frequency (RF). For 50 years, Lumenis’ ground-breaking products have redefined medical treatments and have set numerous technological and clinical gold-standards. Lumenis has successfully created solutions for previously untreatable conditions, as well as designed advanced technologies that have revolutionized existing treatment methods. visit: