Expanding the Clinical Application of Fractional Radiofrequency Treatment: Findings on Rhytides, Hyperpigmentation, Rosacea, and Acne Redness

November 2015 | Volume 14 | Issue 11 | Original Article | 1298 | Copyright © November 2015

Wichai Hongcharu MDa and Michael Gold MDb

aSt. Louis Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand
bGold Skin Care Center and The Tennessee Clinical Research Center, Nashville, TN

While radiofrequency has been used medically for decades to treat a wide variety of conditions, its use therapeutically to target conditions affecting the skin is relatively new. With the development of fractional radiofrequency, which allows for the heat energy to be delivered in a more targeted manner through the use of needles as electrodes, this technique is now the preferred medical treatment option for many skin conditions given the reduction in recovery time and fewer number of reported side effects. The current study examined the clinical effectiveness of SmartScanTM Nano-Fractional RFTM treatment. Participants included 12 healthy female volunteers who reported varying degrees of rhytides, hyperpigmentation, or acne redness. Participants each received one treatment of SmartScan Nano-Fractional RF. The areas receiving treatment were photographed in a standardized way, using high-resolution macrophotography, at baseline (prior to receiving the treatment) and one month after treatment. Baseline and post-treatment photographs were then visually compared for treatment effects and analyzed through software-assisted quantification of variation in pigmentation and skin texture. The results indicated that this SmartScan technique for Nano-Fractional RF is effective in improving skin texture, and pigmentation.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(11):1298-1304.


In recent decades there has been a growing demand for safe, efficient, and non-invasive treatments for treating striae, rhytides, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, acne redness, and scarring. Radiofrequency (RF) treatments, which are titrated to be non-ablative, have thus been regarded as an optimal treatment option, given the fewer side effects and reduced recovery time. The use of RF energy is not a new concept. In fact, RF ablation is a technique that has been around for the last several decades, which utilizes an oscillating current of electricity.1-2 By oscillating the electrical current, charged molecules and ions collide against each other, generating energy in the form of heat. This heat energy can be used to stimulate or even ablate targeted tissue within the body.
There are a wide number of clinical applications of RF energy, which depend on the depth of the targeted tissue, the specific frequency used during treatment, and how the tissue itself is cooled following the treatment.2 RF energy is most commonly used in cosmetic dermatology as a noninvasive method of skin tightening and facial rejuvenation. These effects are produced within the heated area through several mechanisms, including ablation and necrosis of adipose tissue, stimulation of tissue inflammation, and improved blood circulation, which leads to the recruitment of fibroblasts to the area.2-3 This ultimately leads to the production of new collagen through the body’s natural regeneration process.
In contrast to earlier forms of RF treatment, newer devices are associated with fewer side effects when used to treat dermatologic conditions. Previous treatments have been associated with a number of adverse side effects, including erythema, hyperpigmentation, ecchymosis, and burning. Newer RF devices that utilize fractional technology have been shown to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the dermis, while significantly reducing the risk for adverse side effects. This fractional technology, piloted in 2009,4-5 uses needles as electrodes to deliver the RF energy to the targeted tissue and have been regarded as successful in treating a variety of dermatological conditions. These new fractional RF devices have been shown to improve facial brightness, tightness, and skin pigmentation. 6-8 More work is necessary, however, to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of using RF to treat various skin conditions.
The current study examined the clinical effectiveness of a single treatment with Venus Viva™ (Venus Concept, Toronto, Canada) SmartScan™ Nano-Fractional™ Radio Frequency in treating several skin conditions, including striae, rhytides, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, acne redness, and scarring, in order to improve the appearance of the skin.


Participants included 12 healthy female volunteers who reported varying degrees of rhytides, hyperpigmentation, or