Let’s be honest. Who couldn’t use a little lift now and then? Radiofrequency, or RF, is quickly becoming one of the go-to methods for today’s hottest non-surgical skin-tightening treatments. And hey, if it’s possible to get a little non-surgical facelift with no downtime, that is something we can get behind.

The treatment options are seemingly endless when it comes to radiofrequency devices, but some of the most popular treatments on RealSelf include the following:

TempSure Envi is the latest FDA-approved radiofrequency treatment, and it’s receiving glowing reviews so far. According to this article in Marie Claire, it’s a painless, 20-minute procedure that produces outstanding non-surgical facelift results, that can be seen almost immediately and continue to improve over four to six weeks.

Whatever radiofrequency treatment your doctor determines is best for you, here’s the lowdown on how RF works and what to expect.


What radiofrequency is

Radiofrequency is a type of energy, like the energy WiFi and TVs emit, but it is on the slow end of the range, making it a safer type of energy.

Unlike lasers, which use higher-frequency light waves and target the skin’s surface, radiofrequency can safely penetrate a deeper level of skin, improving skin tone and structure and lifting tissues.

“There are radiofrequency treatments that are performed on the surface of the skin to promote skin-tightening and new collagen formation using devices, such as Venus Legacy or Fractora Forma,” says Dr. Richard E. Moore, a Saint Louis, Missouri, physician. “In addition, there are radiofrequency treatments performed beneath the skin with devices — such as FaceTite and BodyTite — which tighten the supporting tissues beneath the skin, as well as on the surface of the skin.”


Why it’s so popular now

Radiofrequency has a quick and easy recovery with minimal side effects, like swelling, redness and tingling. It can also be safely combined with other non-surgical procedures, such as injectable fillers or microneedling.

“What is great about radiofrequency is there is minimal downtime and can be used with any skin tone,” says Dr. Jean M. Casello, a Northborough, Massachusetts physician. “The results can be seen as early as one month and continue up to about six months or more.”


Related: 7 top cosmetic treatments that skin experts swear by (and use themselves)


Who’s getting it

People in their mid-30s to 50s with mild to moderate sagging are the ideal candidates for radiofrequency treatments. The most common treatment areas are the forehead, under-eyes, cheeks, mid-face, jawline and neck.

“For patients who have mild laxity around the eyes, it can tighten the crepey skin and lessen the fine lines seen in the crow’s feet area,” says Dr. John Tang, a Saratoga, California, physician. “In patients with more severe laxity and crow’s feet, it can be combined with Botox to provide a more optimal natural result.”


What’s a radiofrequency treatment like?

Radiofrequency treatments are typically a single, in-office treatment with little to no downtime. Radiofrequency technology heats the deeper, collagen-rich layers of the skin causing it to contract and stimulate new collagen growth. Smoother skin may be noticeable immediately, but results will continue to improve over six to 12 months.

One reviewer on RealSelf shares her experience with the radiofrequency treatment Thermage: “I found the procedure pretty painful, particularly on the neck, but I feel it was well worth it, and I’ll definitely get it again…

“It feels like tiny hot pokers stabbing the face, and I felt uncomfortable that night sleeping,” she continues. “I was surprised to see positive results in the lower face after only one week. The neck took one month to see results. I had very minor swelling the next day, but it was winter so I wore a scarf in case anyone else noticed. Next time, I’ll get it done on a Friday when I don’t have to go to work the next day.”


Why can’t I just get Botox?

It’s tempting to try Botox instead of a more expensive radiofrequency treatment, but most providers agree the results will be not be as great.

“One of the shortcomings of Botox by itself for patients who have moderate to severe laxity around the eyes, is that it doesn’t last and it actually looks funny,” says Tang. “Botox only treats the outer lateral eye area leaving a section underneath the eye untreated.”

“This creates an imbalance and is seen as unnatural when a patient is smiling,” he continues. “When radiofrequency is added to Botox, the skin in the lower eyelid is tightened throughout the lower eyelid, and there is no discrepancy from the outer eye to the medial lower eyelid. It also helps to lengthen the duration of the Botox treatment, which is often a complaint as patients get older.”


Related: 11 uses for Botox: Fighting wrinkles, sweat, and opioid addiction


What else you need to know

Radiofrequency treatments are effective alone, but other treatments are often added to boost results.

“Oftentimes, PRP [platelet-rich plasma] is added to give an additional boost to the collagen production,” says Casello. “Also, both procedures can be combined with other more aggressive treatments, such as CO2 resurfacing and Botox and dermal fillers.”


Ready to contact an expert? Find a doctor near you today.