Terri A. Wojak is a licensed esthetician
with more than 16 years of experience.
She has knowledge in all aspects of the
skin care industry, including education,
The function of RF is to deliver just enough energy
to create a wound-healing response without creating
a wound. The heat denatures damaged proteins
and promotes collagen remodeling. RF energy is
delivered to heat the water content of skin to the ideal
temperature, which is between 104–115° F, depending
on specific protocols.
RF energy devices are commonly used in esthetic
medical practices for skin-tightening and, more
recently, fat-reduction. There are several RF devices
that differ according to the amount of energy
delivered and the methods used to deliver it. Some
manufacturers use RF energy in combination with
other modalities, including light, to increase its effects.
Ultrasound. Ultrasound is most commonly
associated with monitoring fetuses during
pregnancy, but it is widely used in medicine to
diagnose underlying medical conditions, and in
physical therapy for musculoskeletal ailments.
sound waves of at least
20,000 hertz (Hz) for
therapeutic or imaging
purposes, which cannot
be heard by humans.
The use of ultrasound
for skin rejuvenation
was founded due
to its widespread
use for stimulating
poorly healing skin.
has shown that the
treatment can stimulate
fibroblast proliferation and
increase circulation at the
wound, thereby increasing
the speed at which the wound
heals. 1 This makes it ideal for
The physiological benefits of ultrasound are
categorized as thermal and nonthermal. Thermally,
ultrasound waves can cause local tissues to heat
up to 104–113° F, which, like RF, seems to be the
optimal temperature range for stimulating collagen
production. Ultrasound also increases localized blood
flow, allowing skin to better repair itself. 2 The increase
in blood flow allows more nutrients to be circulated,
and heightens stimulation of the lymphatic system to
begin engulfing and removing impurities.
The nonthermal nature of ultrasound acts to create
caviatation, or microscopic bubbles, through the
vibrations produced from sound waves.
SKIN-TIGHTENING AND THE SKIN CARE INDUSTRY
The influx of medical devices has subsequently
triggered a rise in the use of spa and at-home
treatment devices. Although such treatments
typically emit less energy, they still have the
potential to improve select skin conditions and
maintain results from previously mentioned cosmetic
medical treatments. In all of these cases, clients
must be properly educated about pros and cons of
each. For example, some devices, such as LED and
microcurrent, take several treatments before results
will be apparent. Others that show quicker results,
such as ablative laser, may not last as long or could
cause pain—such as micro-focused ultrasound.
Because all of these devices differ, it is important for
skin care professionals to choose modalities carefully.
Regardless of the devices chosen, it is necessary to
have a good understanding of how other modalities
work for comparison. In the case of a skin care
professional who is not working in a medical esthetic
setting, it is equally as important to be familiar with
these devices, because it opens up the opportunity to
offer complimentary skin care treatments for clients
who have undergone medical esthetic treatments.
1. SL Michlovitz, Thermal Agents In Rehabilitation, FA Davis Co, Philadelphia
2. LC Kloth, JA Feedar, JM McCulloch, Wound Healing: Alternatives in
Management, FA Davis Co, Philadelphia (1995)
Editor’s note: Don’t miss Terri A. Wojak’s class about
“Acne Realities Exposed” during the Advanced Education
Conference Program at Face & Body® Northern California
in San Jose, CA, on Saturday, August 23! Register today at