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Fractionated Radiofrequency

Fractionated radiofrequency (RF) treatment is the use of RF energy in a grid-like pattern to heat the deeper layers of the skin. This leads to collagen remodeling with improvement in scarring and skin tightening. RF is used to treat acne scarring and is most effective for mild-moderate changes and early scars. RF may be combined with other treatments directed to more difficult scars. Fine lines, wrinkles, increased pore size, laxity and pigmentation and surgical scars and stretch marks may also be treated with RF.

One of the major advantages of RF over laser treatment is the ability to safely treat darker skin types with little risk of pigmentation changes. In addition, RF can be carried during acne treatment, including isotretinoin (Roaccutane or Oratane).


You will need to use 23/7 topical anaesthetic cream. Treatment will not be done during pregnancy and numbing creams should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding. 23/7 cream will be prescribed, made by CustomMed Pharmacy and posted to your home. Starting 1 hour before your appointment, apply up to 5mls of 23/7 cream to clean, dry skin. Extend 1-2 cm outside the edges of area to be treated, avoid the red part of the lips and stay 1 cm away from eyes. Use an Alice band to hold longer hair back. Some people are sensitive to the cream and feel dizzy or unwell. Wash off and use less in the future. 23/7 cream is needed for treatment at all sites and it expires after a few months.

Please let us know if you get cold sores in the area to be treated so that anti-cold sore virus medication can be prescribed, starting the night before the procedure and continuing 2 x daily for 5 days.

The area will be photographed at each treatment. The cream will be completely removed with alcohol. Unlike with lasers, your eyes do not need to be covered. Usually 1-3 passes are performed with a greater number of passes and increased strength applied to more severely affected areas. The treatment should be only slightly uncomfortable provided sufficient anaesthetic cream has been used. The treatment will take 20-40 minutes. You may arrange for a lift home afterwards if you wish but this is not essential. Three to six treatments are usual.


The treated areas will be red and swollen and this will last for 2-3 days. Swelling is most marked around the eyes. You may lightly spray the skin with sterile water e.g. Avene Eau Thermale, but do not apply any creams on the first day as this will reduce the benefits of the treatment. Sensations of heat, burning or stinging last for 1- 2 days. The skin will develop a rough sandpaper-like texture which lasts about one week. In areas off the face, it is common to have a faint grid-like pattern of small dark dots for 2-3 weeks. Make-up can be applied after the first day to cover redness. Swimming, hot tubs, activities causing heavy sweating and any friction to the skin should be avoided until the skin returns to normal. Most people require 1-2 days off work or studies.

Sun protection is required before treatment, throughout treatment & indefinitely afterwards to prevent complications and maintain improvement. The benefits of the treatment are assessed at 3 months following the final treatment.


Complications are rare. Usually, one expects 30% improvement in scarring and age-related changes with a series of 3-6 treatments but in some cases, results may be less than this. Six to twelve monthly maintenance treatment helps prevent recurrence of age-related changes. Occasionally, swelling and redness may last for longer than expected. Scarring and permanent or temporary changes in skin colour are possible but unlikely. Cold sore virus or other infections may rarely occur. If you develop tenderness and spreading redness, please contact us immediately.

If you have any questions or problems during the course of your treatment please call:
Adelaide Skin & Eye Centre 8211 0000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)