Radiofrequency microneedling is a cosmetic procedure. It uses tiny needles and radiofrequency waves to rejuvenate facial skin.

The treatment is a form of controlled skin injury. The damage stimulates the growth of healthy new skin, which can benefit common skin issues like acne scars and wrinkles.

Compared with treatments like chemical peels and dermabrasion, radiofrequency microneedling is minimally invasive. Read on to learn about the procedure, side effects, and benefits.

What is radiofrequency microneedling?

Microneedling uses a fine needle to create microwounds, or channels, in the skin. This triggers the production of capillaries, elastin, and collagen. It’s also called skin needling or collagen induction therapy.

If the procedure also uses radiofrequency waves, it’s called radiofrequency microneedling. The needle releases radiofrequency into the channels, causing additional damage. This enhances the effects of standard microneedling.

The skin that grows back is thicker and smoother. This can target:

You can also get radiofrequency microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

In this procedure, your provider draws blood from your arm and uses a machine to separate the platelets.

After a microneedling session, your provider injects or applies the platelets to the treated area. This may maximize the results of your treatment.

Who’s an ideal candidate for radiofrequency microneedling?

Radiofrequency microneedling is considered safe, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.

You may be an ideal candidate if you:

Alternatively, you should avoid the treatment if you:

What’s the radiofrequency microneedling procedure like?

If you’re interested in the procedure, you’ll need to meet with a healthcare provider, such as a cosmetic surgeon.

Prior to the procedure

At your initial appointment, your provider will ask questions about your medical history and expectations. They’ll also take photos of your face to determine the best technique for your condition, as well as provide instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.

If you have active acne breakouts, you may be asked to take oral antibiotics. If you have a history of cold sores, you might need to take oral antiviral medication.

During the procedure

Your actual procedure will take place in your healthcare provider’s office. Generally, here’s what you can expect:

  1. A healthcare provider cleans your skin with alcohol to prevent infection.
  2. They apply a topical anesthetic to the treatment area about 1 hour before the procedure. In some cases, they might inject a local anesthetic instead. The anesthetic numbs the area so you won’t feel pain.
  3. The microneedling device makes tiny wounds in the skin. Simultaneously, the tip of the needle releases radiofrequency waves into the wounds.
  4. The procedure takes 10 to 20 minutes. The exact duration depends on what you’re treating.
  5. A healthcare provider applies a growth solution to support cell regeneration. They finish with a soothing solution to minimize any discomfort.
After the procedure

You can go home after the treatment and return to your normal activities.

What’s the best way to take care of your skin post-radiofrequency microneedling?

After your procedure, your doctor will explain how to care for your skin. This will include the following aftercare tips:

  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Wear SPF for several weeks after your treatment. Your skin will be extra sensitive to the sun during this time.
  • Use antibiotic creams or emollients if your doctor prescribed them.
  • Use a gentle cleanser after your treatment.
  • Avoid wearing makeup until the next day. After 24 hours, you can return to your normal makeup and skin care routine.

Does radiofrequency microneedling work?

According to research, radiofrequency microneedling is effective for many skin conditions.

Acne scars

In a 2014 studyTrusted Source of 31 people, radiofrequency microneedling moderately improved acne scars in 58 percent of the participants. A small 2017 study found similar results.

Skin rejuvenation

Microneedling with radiofrequency waves can also improve the look of your skin. In a 2013 study, for example, the procedure reduced wrinkles around the eyes. The effects lasted longer than Botox injections.

A 2020 case report also shares that the treatment can reduce loose facial skin.

Additionally, in a 2018 studyTrusted Source, radiofrequency microneedling improved skin texture and pore size.


According to a 2019 study, the procedure can permanently treat hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. A 2013 study found that the treatment helps by reducing the number and size of sweat glands. When to expect results

You’ll see results after 3 to 6 months. The exact time frame depends on the type and severity of your condition.

In most cases, you’ll need at least four sessions. This also depends on what you’re treating. For example, if you have moderate acne scars, you’ll need about three or four treatments. Bigger scars might need five treatments.

These sessions will be done every 3 to 8 weeks. This lets your skin heal between treatments.

After the initial set of treatments, the results will last about 1 year. It’s recommended to have a touch-up session once a year to maintain your desired results.

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Your treatment plan is designed for steady progress, with every phase promptly implemented.

Typically, radiofrequency microneedling is well tolerated. But like all cosmetic treatments, it may cause some side effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • dryness
  • redness
  • scaling
  • itching
  • swelling
  • mild acne flare-up
  • cold sore breakout

These side effects might last for a few hours or days.

Some complications need medical attention. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor:

  • allergic reaction to needles
  • signs of infection
  • persisting swelling or redness
  • prolonged bleeding
  • bruising
  • fatigue
  • headache

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy or percutaneous collagen productionTrusted Source, is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure.

The purpose of microneedling is to puncture the outermost layer of the skin and trigger the healing process. This promotes the production of collagen and the turnover of new skin cells.

The entire procedure takes roughly 2 hours to complete. A board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon performs the procedure. In some states, aestheticians may also perform this cosmetic procedure.

Before the procedure

Your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic roughly 45 to 60 minutes before the treatment begins. This helps numb the area and reduce any pain that might be felt during the procedure.

During the procedure

Your doctor will use a tool that contains tiny needles, either a dermapen or a dermaroller, to perform the procedure.

The microneedling tool is sterilized and intended only for single use. Once the procedure begins, your doctor will run the tool evenly across the skin to create tiny holes in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. The microneedling portion of the procedure takes roughly 15 to 30 minutes.

The most common sensation during the procedure is a warm, scratching feeling as the tool is moved around the face. You may also notice some pain on the “bonier” areas of your face, such as your hairline, forehead, and jawline.

Otherwise, the application of the topical anesthetic makes this procedure relatively pain-free.

After the procedure

After the procedure, your doctor will apply saline pads to your skin. In some cases, they may apply a gel face mask to help calm the skin and reduce inflammation and redness. They may also prescribe creams and lotions that will help with the healing process of the skin.

You can leave the office immediately after your appointment. There’s no necessary downtime. You may notice some redness and some minor skin irritation for 2 to 3 days after the procedure, but this is generally nothing to worry about and should go away as your skin heals.

It takes time for the formation of new collagen. You’ll typically have to wait 2 to 6 weeks between sessions to allow the skin to repair itself. It can take three to four sessions to see noticeable results from microneedling.

Although microneedling is a relatively painless procedure, you may still experience some discomfort. There are a few things you can do before and after the procedure to minimize the pain you might experience.

Before the procedure

To minimize pain before your procedure:

  • Avoid using any products on your skin that increase sensitivity, such as retinoids or exfoliants.
  • Avoid laser procedures or overexposure to the sun before treatment. This can damage the skin and increase sensitivity.
  • Don’t shave, wax, or use depilatories before the procedure. This can lead to an increase in skin sensitivity.
  • Research suggests preparing your skin with vitamin A and vitamin C formulations may help promote the production of collagen.
After the procedure

To minimize pain after your procedure:

  • Make sure to follow all postoperative instructions provided by your doctor.
  • Apply any prescribed or recommended topical creams and lotions to keep your skin moisturized and to reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid washing your face with anything other than lukewarm water and gentle cleanser for 48 to 72 hours after the procedure.
  • Avoid using makeup for at least 48 to 72 hours after the procedure. When you do apply makeup, only use clean makeup brushes.
  • Avoid direct sunlight for 48 to 72 hours after the procedure. If you plan to go outside, don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
  • Avoid using harsh cleansers and exfoliants after your procedure. They can cause more irritation and inflammation while your skin is healing.

Microneedling has been researched and used as a treatment for a variety of skin conditionsTrusted Source, including:

  • acne scars
  • surgical scars
  • alopecia
  • melasma
  • vitiligo
  • hyperpigmentation
  • actinic keratoses

Research has shown that microneedling can also be effective in reducing the signs of aging.

In one small studyTrusted Source from 2018, 48 study participants received four microneedling sessions every 30 days. At the end of 150 days, researchers noted that the procedure was able to significantly improve:

  • wrinkles
  • fine lines
  • skin texture
  • loose skin

Overall, microneedling is an effective cosmetic procedure with minimal pain, minimal recovery time, and great results for a variety of skin types and concerns.

While microneedling is a safe, effective procedure, there are some potential risks and side effects. These include:

It’s normal to have some skin redness and inflammation after the procedure.

For some people, the inflammation can lead to hyperpigmentation and flareups of other conditions, such as acne and herpes. However, most people who undergo microneedling don’t experience more serious side effects.

Microneedling is a procedure that should always be performed by a licensed professional in a sterile environment to minimize risks.

If you notice any of the following symptoms after your microneedling appointment, seek medical attention right away:

  • swelling
  • bruising
  • peeling
  • bleeding

Although rare, some of these symptoms can be a sign of a serious reaction to the procedure, or a potential skin infection.

Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that’s used in the treatment of skin conditions like scarring, alopecia, vitiligo, and more.

During a microneedling session, the outermost layer of the skin is pricked with microneedles to promote collagen formation and skin regrowth. The procedure isn’t overly painful. There are ways to minimize discomfort.

The most common side effects of microneedling are skin redness and irritation.

Microneedling takes multiple sessions to truly see results, but research has shown it to be an effective, minimally invasive way to improve the health of the skin.

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