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Can Radiofrequency Dissolve Fillers? What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aurora Kalmanson on
Written by Fillers Editorial Team, plastic surgery specialists.

Radiofrequency treatments, a staple in aesthetic medicine for promoting skin tightening and collagen production, have raised questions regarding their impact on dermal fillers. The concern stems from the heat generated during radiofrequency procedures and whether it can alter or dissolve fillers.

Current scientific evidence suggests that radiofrequency does not dissolve fillers. The temperatures reached during RF treatments (approximately 65-75℃) are significantly lower than the threshold needed to affect filler structure, which is around 160℃. Therefore, radiofrequency and fillers can be safely used in conjunction, with the caution that RF should not be applied directly on top of areas treated with fillers to avoid any potential reduction in filler longevity.

Radiofrequency Treatments and Dermal Fillers: An Overview

Radiofrequency (RF) treatments and dermal fillers are both popular cosmetic procedures, each with distinct roles in facial rejuvenation. Understanding their interaction is crucial for achieving desired aesthetic outcomes while ensuring patient safety.

The Science Behind Radiofrequency (RF) in Aesthetics

Heat Generation and Tissue Metabolism: Radiofrequency treatments work by generating heat, which in turn increases tissue metabolism. This heightened metabolic activity can lead to a more rapid breakdown of various substances, including cosmetic fillers and botulinum toxin. However, the heat produced by RF treatments is typically not sufficient to structurally alter fillers. It’s important to note that while RF can enhance tissue metabolism, the temperatures reached during standard aesthetic procedures are well below the levels required to cause any significant change to filler materials.

RF Microneedling Temperatures and Effects: RF microneedling combines the collagen-inducing effects of microneedling with the thermal energy of radiofrequency. The procedure involves delivering RF energy into the skin at temperatures between 65-75℃, which is effective for stimulating collagen production without reaching the much higher temperatures needed to alter fillers. It’s also worth mentioning that fillers are designed to withstand higher temperatures than those achieved during RF treatments, as they are sterilized at temperatures exceeding 110℃ during manufacturing.

Interaction and Impact of RF on Fillers

Temperature Thresholds and Filler Alteration: The interaction between RF treatments and dermal fillers is a topic of interest due to the thermal nature of RF. While RF treatments do generate heat, the temperatures are not high enough to dissolve or significantly alter the structure of fillers. The threshold for altering fillers is around 160℃, far above the peak temperatures of RF treatments. Therefore, concerns about RF treatments dissolving fillers are largely unfounded. However, it is advised to avoid applying RF directly on areas with fillers to prevent any potential impact on their longevity or to provoke adverse reactions.

The Myth of RF Dissolving Fillers: Despite concerns, the myth that radiofrequency treatments dissolve fillers is not supported by scientific evidence. The misconception may arise from the knowledge that RF treatments generate heat, which could theoretically affect substances like hyaluronic acid fillers. However, the temperatures required to alter the structure of these fillers are significantly higher than those produced by RF devices. It’s crucial to differentiate between the potential for RF to cause changes in the skin’s natural collagen and its effect on synthetic materials like fillers, which are designed to withstand routine aesthetic procedures without degradation.

Scientific Studies and Contradictory Evidence: The debate over RF’s impact on fillers has been fueled by various studies with differing outcomes. While some early reports suggested a potential for heat to affect fillers, more recent and controlled studies have shown no significant changes to filler structure or volume post-RF treatment. Biopsies and thermal imaging have demonstrated that the heat generated by RF does not reach levels that would compromise the integrity of dermal fillers. These findings underscore the importance of relying on current, high-quality research when evaluating the safety and efficacy of combined treatments.

Safety and Efficacy of Combining RF with Fillers

Combining radiofrequency treatments with dermal fillers can be a safe and effective approach to facial rejuvenation when performed with proper technique and timing.

Potential Risks and Adverse Reactions

Complications from RF on Filler Sites: While the risk of complications from RF treatments on filler sites is low, it is not nonexistent. Potential issues could include unintended changes to the filler material if the RF is applied too intensely or too close to the injection site. Practitioners must be cautious and knowledgeable about the types of fillers used and the specific RF treatment parameters to minimize any risks. Patients should be informed about the slight possibility of adverse effects and the importance of seeking treatment from experienced professionals.

High vs. Low Frequency RF Implications: The frequency of the RF energy can influence its interaction with dermal fillers. High-frequency RF treatments, which deliver energy at a faster rate, may pose a greater risk of heating the filler unevenly, potentially leading to complications. Conversely, low-frequency RF treatments penetrate deeper but with less risk of localized overheating. Understanding the nuances between high and low-frequency RF allows practitioners to adapt treatments to individual patient needs while safeguarding the integrity of the fillers and the health of the skin.

Clinical Recommendations and Safe Practices

Timing, Frequency, and Techniques for RF Treatments: When integrating RF treatments with dermal fillers, timing is crucial. It is generally recommended to allow a period of healing after filler injections before beginning RF treatments. This interval helps ensure that the fillers have settled and the risk of displacement or alteration is minimized. The frequency of RF sessions should be adapted to the individual’s skin response and the type of filler used. Techniques vary depending on the RF device, but a common practice is to use a conservative energy setting and to avoid multiple passes over areas with fillers. Practitioners should be well-versed in the nuances of both RF and filler technologies to provide optimal results.

Areas to Avoid and Safe Distances: To maximize safety when combining RF treatments with fillers, certain areas may need to be avoided or treated with extra caution. It is advisable to maintain a safe distance from the filler injection sites, and if necessary, to use protective measures such as cooling devices or adjusted RF parameters. The areas most susceptible to complications are those with thinner skin or where fillers are placed superficially. By respecting these safe distances and areas, practitioners can help ensure the longevity of the fillers and the overall success of the combined treatment approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to undergo RF treatment after having fillers?

Yes, it is generally safe to undergo RF treatment after having fillers, but it is advisable to wait for the fillers to settle properly before proceeding.

How long should I wait to have RF treatment after fillers?

It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks after filler injections before undergoing RF treatments to ensure the fillers have integrated into the tissue.

Can RF treatments near filler sites affect their longevity?

RF treatments near filler sites can potentially affect their longevity if the heat generated is not carefully controlled.

Can RF microneedling be performed on areas with hyaluronic acid fillers?

RF microneedling can be performed on areas with hyaluronic acid fillers, but it should not be applied directly over the filler sites to avoid altering their structure.

How long after filler injections should I wait before undergoing RF treatment?

It is best to wait at least 2 weeks after filler injections before undergoing RF treatment to allow the filler to integrate fully.

Can I undergo RF treatment if I had HA fillers injected 6 months ago?

Yes, you can undergo RF treatment if you had HA fillers injected 6 months ago, as the fillers would have stabilized by then.

Will RF treatments reduce the longevity of my fillers or botulinum toxin?

RF treatments should not reduce the longevity of fillers or botulinum toxin when performed correctly and at a safe distance from the injection sites.

Can RF treatments help with swelling after HA filler injections?

RF treatments may help reduce swelling after HA filler injections, but they should be used with caution and not directly over the injection sites.

Conclusion

In conclusion, radiofrequency treatments can be safely combined with dermal fillers when appropriate precautions are taken. Understanding the timing, frequency, and techniques for RF treatments, as well as maintaining safe distances from filler sites, is key to maximizing results while minimizing risks. The myths surrounding RF dissolving fillers have been dispelled by scientific evidence, providing reassurance for those seeking combined aesthetic procedures. As with any cosmetic treatment, it is essential to consult with qualified professionals who can provide personalized advice based on individual needs and circumstances.

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References:

Kim, H., Park, K. Y., Choi, S. Y., Koh, H. J., Park, S. Y., Park, W. S., Bae, I. H., & Kim, B. J. (2014). The efficacy, longevity, and safety of combined radiofrequency treatment and hyaluronic Acid filler for skin rejuvenation.

https://anndermatol.org/DOIx.php?id=10.5021/ad.2014.26.4.447

Jurairattanaporn, N., Amornpetkul, W., Rutnin, S., & Vachiramon, V. (2023). The effect of combined hyaluronic acid filler injection and radiofrequency treatment: A clinic histological analysis.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.15509

Dr. Aurora Kalmanson

Always Consult a Medical Specialist

The information provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as personalized medical advice. It's crucial to understand that while we are medical professionals, the insights and advice we provide are based on general research and studies. They are not tailored to individual health needs or conditions. Thus, it is essential to consult directly with a healthcare provider who can offer personalized medical advice relevant to your specific situation.