HIFU vs RF: What is the Difference?

The hard truth is, once we reach the age of 25, our body’s collagen production begins to slow. In fact, collagen levels can drop by up to 2% every year. Lifestyle and genetics are two of the main factors that determine how drastically collagen levels drop. Luckily, there are safe and effective treatments you can try to achieve the youthful, firm, and tightened skin like HIFU (High Intensity Infrared Ultrasound) and RF (Radio Frequency).

Both HIFU (High Intensity Infrared Ultrasound) and RF (Radio Frequency) are non-surgical, non-invasive skin tightening treatments that heat up the skin to induce a collagen remodelling response in its deep layers. Although they both tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles they use different technologies to do so. Thus, one method may be more suitable than the other.

RF Skin Tightening

RF is a tissue-tightening procedure that uses monopolar radiofrequency energy to deliver heat into the epidermal skin layers. It penetrates no further than 3mm deep into skin tissues. The hand-held device uses a bulk heating technique across larger areas to tighten sagging skin, smooth out wrinkles, and stimulate collagen and elastin production. Not only does RF provide visible skin-tightening benefits from immediate collagen contraction, it also provides anti-ageing benefits by triggering the skin’s wound-healing response and encouraging cell turnover. This gives the skin a firmer, plumper and more youthful-looking appearance, reducing fine lines, shrinking enlarged pores, and even improving skin conditions like acne.

Since it only reaches epidermal layers without penetrating the deep dermis, RF is a better choice for addressing volume loss and for concerns on more delicate areas, like drooping eyelids. RF can be used with any skin complexion and is ideal for facial rejuvenation, reshaping and resituating the facial musculature, raising the eyebrows and clearing the area around the eyes, improving wrinkles and fine lines. It’s primarily used to treat skin laxity by facial tightening, and it is best suited to clients with mild to moderate sagging of facial tissues, usually those in their early twenties.

For best results, you might need several sessions over the first few month and one sessions per every few months for maintenance.

HIFU Skin Tightening

HIFU treatment uses high-intensity focused ultrasound energy that is delivered deep into the skin causing very precise thermal coagulation that reaches the SMAS layer (muscle). Delivering tiny deposits of focused ultrasound energy it precisely heats up a specific location in a short period of time.  Your skin responds to this energy by stimulating its deep dermal tissue to produce new compact collagen fibres. This, in turn, leads to a gradual tightening and improvement of your skin elasticity and firmness.  As the skin tightens, wrinkles and lines become less visible. The texture of the skin is improved as it becomes smooth, shiny and firm. This results in long-lasting firming, and tightening of the skin, after just one treatment. It helps reduce the double chin fat, prevent jowling, skin lifting and tightening,  cheek lift, improves skin quality and texture.

Initial tightening of the skin can be seen immediately after treatment, and it continues gradually over time. This means that with just one treatment, the regenerative process is initiated but its full results will unfold over the course of 2-3 months, it is scientifically proven to continue up to 6 months.

Main differences

  1. They use different technologies to heat up the deep skin tissues. HIFU delivers more precise and more intense fractional ultrasound energy to goes to the SMAS layer, while RF is based on a bulk heating strategy.
  2. HIFU goes much deeper into and beyond the dermis, being able to reach the SMAS layer (muscle). RF, on the other hand, will not go as deep as HIFU. It focuses on epidermal layers and does not go beyond the deep dermis. This is why HIFU is much more effective than RF.
  3. HIFU is generally performed as a single treatment RF may require several sessions. The exact frequency of either of those treatments will depend on the type of device used and your skin conditions such as its current elasticity or your genetic heritage.

How to choose between HIFU and RF

As we age our face starts to exhibit a mix of sagging, wrinkling and sinking.  Although each person’s ageing style is always unique and should always be addressed individually the following guide explains how different treatments may be more suitable for different types of issues.

Problem Areas:

  1. Sagging: HIFU is the best choice as it tightens the SMAS layer (muscle) of the skin which reverses the sagging appearance. HIFU assists in tightening loose skin around the jowls, improve the appearance of a double chin or “lifting” the brows. The skin lifting and tightening effects will give the appearance of a slimmer face, sharp jawline and double chin reduction. Further, it can also get rid of any excess fat and tissue in the lower face that’s worsening the sagging effect.
  2. Volume loss: RF being a less intensive method that penetrates tissues not as deep as HIFU can be a better choice for addressing volume loss or treating delicate areas such as lower and upper eyelids. Thus, if you have no or limited skin laxity, but are losing facial volume you may opt for the RF. It will tighten the skin but also create the effect of more volume especially in the area around the mouth.
  3. Wrinkles & fine lines: Both HIFU and RF boost collagen production and accelerate skin tissues remodelling. Thus, they’re both effective in treating wrinkles and fine lines. The best method for treating the signs of skin degeneration will thus depend on the extent of your skin ageing and the area you want to treat. For this reason, any deep lines and wrinkles should be address with HIFU due to its skin tightening properties as RF does not target deep within the SMAS (muscle layer).

Face Lift (Combination Treatment of HIFU and RF)

Body Contour Studio created the Face lift treatment which targets all problem areas such as wrinkles, skin sagging and double chin fat. Previously, targeting all these problem areas will require the patient to undergo both HIFU and RF treatments.

Face Lift which is a tailored treatment plan that combines both treatments to ensure that all problem areas are targeted. This helps with the following:

  • Skin lifting and tightening
  • Sharpens the jawline
  • Facial contouring
  • Double Chin reduction
  • Minimises fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improvement of skin texture and laxity

Prices

Please refer to the Treatment Price List for more information

HIFU Skin TighteningRF Skin Tightening
Suitable forWrinkles & pigmentations

Skin sagging, lifting and tightening

Can be used in the body

Wrinkles & pigmentations

Light procedure for improving skin texture

Can be used in the body

Similarity

Completely natural, genuine and permanent (unlike fillers or threads, which can “dissolve” away) – this is because they stimulate your body’s own mechanisms of collagen production.

Non-surgical, non-invasive skin tightening

Completely natural, genuine and permanent (unlike fillers or threads, which can “dissolve” away) – this is because they stimulate your body’s own mechanisms of collagen production.

Non-surgical, non-invasive skin tightening

Technology usedUltrasound Energy (deeper than RF)Radiofrequency
MechanismDelivers more precise and intense fractional ultrasound energy heating from the top layer of the skin up to the SMAS muscle layer. HIFU tightens the deep tissues and skin making HIFU the best treatment for skin lifting and tightening the face and neck.

The thermal-coagulation effect can induce volume reduction of selected target areas especially in the lower face such as the jowls. This makes HIFU systems a good choice for those with excess tissue and saggy areas. It improves skin quality such as such as very fine early wrinkles, enlarged pores, superficial scars and even acne.

Delivers bulk heating which targets superficial skin problems well – such as very fine early wrinkles, enlarged pores, superficial scars and even acne.
Depth

Goes much deeper into and beyond the dermis, being able to reach the SMAS layer (muscle)

Focuses on epidermal layers (first skin layer) and does not go beyond the deep dermis
Number of treatmentsDepending on the individual – every 4-6 weeks minimum timeframe or longer (every few months to a year)

Once or twice a week

Best Areas

Best choice for skin tightening and lifting around the jowls, improve the appearance of a double chin or “lifting” the brows, and deep wrinkles. It improves skin quality such as such as very fine early wrinkles, enlarged pores, superficial scars and even acne.

Used in the body to lift and tighten loose skin (more effective than RF as it targets the muscle layer)

Used for fat reduction in the body

Better choice for addressing volume loss or treating delicate areas such as lower and upper eyelids; and for improving fine lines in delicate areas like eyes.

Used in the body to lift and tighten loose skin (less effective than HIFU and would need multiple treatments)