Microneedling Radiofrequency (RF) Overview

Microneedling with radiofrequency (RF) is an innovative cosmetic laser treatment that tightens your sagging skin, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and improves your skin texture. By using advanced technology that penetrates deep beneath your skin, it can produce new collagen –an integral part of your skin’s support system that when restored, will revitalize your skin.  In particular, Microneedling RF is especially good for ethnic skin tones as it can be less risky than a traditional laser on certain skin types. 

At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego, we offer treatment options that will help you stop the clock on aging. We can combine Microneedling RF procedures such as INTRAcel and Secret with lasers and fillers for a comprehensive skin rejuvenation or non-surgical facelift.

Which Skin Conditions Does Microneedling RF Treat?

Microneedling RF is effective for tightening the skin and erasing its imperfections. Your skin texture will also significantly improve, giving you a more radiant and youthful glow. Specifically, Microneedling RF is an effective treatment for:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Sagging skin
  • Acne and acne scars
  • Skin tone and texture

What to Expect

At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego, we focus on natural and beautiful results without surgery. Microneedling RF is a rejuvenating and skin-tightening treatment that combines two minimally invasive techniques –microneedling and radiofrequency technology –into one simple process. The treatment precisely targets problem areas to tighten the skin and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scarring. It is a quick, non-invasive procedure with minimal risk or pain, and works for all skin types.

How Does Microneedling RF Work?

The Microneedling RF system uses fractional micro-needles and non-invasive electrodes to deliver heat energy deep into the middle layer of the skin (dermis). The controlled damage produced by the tiny microscopic energy points triggers the body’s repair mechanism which stimulates elastin and collagen production. The radiofrequency energy also reduces the production of bacteria and sebum, aiding in acne treatment. The entire process naturally renews and rebuilds the treatment areas, creating tighter, firmer, and thicker rejuvenated skin while minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and acne scarring. Downtime tends to be minimal and tolerable.

The microneedling treatment technology uses very fine needles to deliver the necessary energy to precise, predetermined depths. Instead of working from the outside in, the flow needle technology starts inside the second layer of your skin, the dermis. This is where your skin’s support system lies, especially the building blocks of collagen necessary for skin tightening. When RF heat energy is delivered at the targeted 60-65° C, collagen growth is stimulated and tissue is tightened at precise depths.

Typically, one session for your face lasts about 45 minutes. If you have your neck treated, as well, this adds about another 15 minutes. This highly effective treatment is performed only by our doctors, ensuring that you receive experienced care for your unique needs.

Areas Treated with Microneedling RF

Many parts of your body can be effectively treated with radiofrequency skin treatment. Most of our patients undergo this procedure to address wrinkles, scars, lax skin, and skin texture on your face. Infini can also be effective loose skin treatment for your neck, addressing the effects of aging on your neck, including the “crepe” look from lost volume and hydration. It can be an effective way to rejuvenate your décolletage, an oft-neglected area affected by aging.

Less commonly, patients undergo this radiofrequency microneedling treatment for lax skin on their arms, scars on their stomach or knee, or even stretch marks. Essentially, because of the variable settings and depths offered by this procedure, any part of your body can safely be treated.

Safe for All Skin Types

Because this unique process doesn’t touch the surface of your skin, post-treatment skin pigment changes are much less likely. This direct addressing of your dermis – the layer under your skin surface – means that all skin types are excellent candidates for treatment. So, if you’re of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent, microneedling radiofrequency skin treatment works well for you in ways that other RF devices cannot.

Pain, Downtime, and Side Effects

Many patients report very little discomfort during the procedure. The most common description is that you’ll experience a mild stinging or tingling sensation as the needles do their job. For those averse to needles or simply wanting to be more comfortable during the procedure, a topical numbing agent can be applied to your skin prior to the session.

Following the procedure, some side effects are to be expected, though they usually are mild, temporary (disappearing within 72 hours), and restricted to the treated area(s). The most common ones are as follows:

  •    Bruising
  •    Redness
  •    Inflammation
  •    Itchiness
  •    Sandpaper-like skin texture

There is very little if any downtime. The vast majority of our patients go right back to their daily routine following a session.

How Many Treatments are Needed?

The number of treatments depends on several factors, including your treatment goals and the overall condition of your skin. Normally, however, you can expect two to four sessions, each spaced about a month apart. We can help you design a home treatment program, using professional skincare available right in our office, to help you maintain the health and beauty of your skin between treatment sessions.

If you decide that Microneedling RF would be a good preventative measure for you, which can come from an informative and helpful consultation with us, then maybe one session a year is enough. However, if you’re undergoing Microneedling RF for serious acne scarring, for example, you might be in line for five to six treatments to get the results you want.


RF microneedling to treat acne and acne scars by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. RF Microneedling to Treat Acne by Dr. Wu
Intracel RF microneedling for treatment of hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Intracel RF Microneedling to treat hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu
Intracel RF microneedling for treatment of hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Intracel RF microneedling for treating hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu
Actual unretouched patient before and after RF microneedling to treat wrinkles by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and After Microneedling RF
Actual un-retouched patient before and after RF microneedling treatment for sagging facial skin by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after RF microneedling treatment to address sagging facial skin by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after RF microneedling treatment for acne scars by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after microneedling treatment for acne scars by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after RF microneedling treatment for acne by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after RF radiofrequency treatment for acne by Dr. Wu


Microneedling with a San Diego Aesthetician (1:13)


Q: What Is The Treatment Process?

A: The procedure takes around 30-60 minutes. Before your session, a topical anesthetic will be applied to the treatment area for added comfort. A handpiece will be placed over your skin then RF microneedles will penetrate your skin and will transmit RF energy through the needles. The microneedles retract after emission and the handpiece is moved along the treatment area to repeat the process.

Q: Will It Hurt?

A: You will feel a prickling sensation as well as heat as the handpiece is passed over your skin. This will increase with the number of passes, but the skin is cooled during treatment, making it completely tolerable.

Q: What Is The Recovery Process? Any Side Effects?

A: Initially, there will be tiny pinpoint bleeding on the treatment area but should settle in a few minutes. Skin will stay red for up to a day. For a few hours, you will feel as if you’ve got a mild sunburn. Swelling is also minimal (usually around the eye area) and typically resolves in 1-2 days. A small bruise may also occur. Full skin recovery may take up to 6 days. You may immediately resume normal activities after treatment, but it is important to protect your skin at all times. Wear sunscreen along with the other aftercare products that your dermatologist will recommend. This will assist in healing your skin and avoiding complications.

Q: What Parts Of The Body Can You Use Microneedling RF On?

A: Skin tightening and wrinkle production can be performed around the eyes, the top lip, around the mouth, the jowls, neck, chest, hands, abdomen, thighs, knees, and buttocks.

Q: How Soon Will I See Results?

A: After just one treatment, your skin will already start to feel smoother and tighter, with visible results showing after two more sessions.

Q: How Many Treatments Will I Need?

A: 2-5 treatments are normally required. At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologists will provide you with a treatment plan defined by your desired results and skin condition. Treatments are usually spaced 4-6 weeks apart but are relatively flexible

Q: How Long Will Results Last?

A: Results will vary depending on your original skin quality and extent of the damage. Normally, Microneedling RF results will continue to improve your skin for up to six months.

Q: Is Microneedling RF Suitable For Me?

A: You are not a candidate for Microneedling RF if you are pregnant, have skin infections, bleeding disorders, keloid constitution, skin malignancy, a pacemaker, or use anticoagulant drugs.

Other Options

In addition to INTRAcel and Secret RF, Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego offers microdermabrasion and laser treatments to help improve your skin’s texture and tone. Examples are:

  • Fraxel® Repair – uses fractional CO2 laser resurfacing to treat wrinkles, age spots, sun spots, scars, and other skin irregularities
  • Fraxel® Re:store – heats the skin to stimulate collagen production, improving fine to moderate lines and wrinkles
  • Fraxel® Re:store Dual – a relatively gentle laser that resurfaces the skin, targeting dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles
  • Dermasweep – uses a bristle-powered brush to gently exfoliate the skin, smoothing its surface and promoting enhanced circulation


La Jolla Skin Rejuvenating Treatment Deals

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The information available on this website is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and/or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.

*Virtual consultations are subject to a fee. Free in-person consultations are available with Drs. Butterwick, Groff, Wu, Boen, and Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. General Dermatology consultations are subject to a fee. Promotions are not available with Dr Goldman.