The application of non-ablative Radiofrequency (RF) energy is the most recent addition to the armamentarium in the war on the aging face. Although radiofrequency energy has been used in surgery for over 70 years, recent developments in crygogenic and computer technology have made possible the selective delivery of energy to the deep dermis and subdermal layers while protecting the epidermis. Heating in this area causes microscopic changes and collagen contraction, with subsequent collagen remodeling over the course of months. Because no external wound is created, patients can return to normal activity "immediately".
Radiofrequency differs from laser energy in that light (laser) energy tends to scatter or absorb in the upper layers of the skin, making it difficult to deliver sufficient energy to the deep layers without damaging the skin's surface.
Principals of Radiofrequency surgery: Electrons will flow as current through a completed circuit if provided with voltage. If the electrons encounter any resistance to their flow, heat is produced at the site of maximum resistance.
In both mono- and bipolar RF circuits, energy is transferred by means of conductive coupling, or direct physical contact between conductors. In capacitive coupling, energy is transferred between 2 conductors across a dielectric, or nonconductor, by means of the electric field acting between them. The potential for energy transfer, or capacitance, is directly related to the surface area of the conductors, and inversely proportional to the distance between the conductors.
Unlike "traditional" RF devices, which generate heat concentrated at the point of maximal tissue resistance, capacitive coupling with a membrane electrode can produce evenly distributed heating within a volume of tissue.