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Keywords:

  • bipolar radiofrequency;
  • collagen coagulation;
  • deep dermal heating;
  • fractional radiofrequency;
  • microneedle;
  • minimally invasive;
  • nonablative;
  • renesis

Abstract

Background and Objectives

Noninvasive bipolar and monopolar radiofrequency (RF) deep dermal heating devices have previously been described. A novel minimally invasive RF device employing a bipolar microneedle electrode system is introduced and its resultant thermal effects on human skin in vivo were characterized for the first time.

Study Design/Materials and Methods

An investigational 35 W RF device was configured to operate in bipolar mode delivering energy directly within the dermis using 5 microneedle electrode pairs with real-time feedback of tissue temperature for treatment control. Superficial cooling was achieved using a Peltier device. A range of pulse durations between 1 and 25 seconds, and lesion temperatures between 60 and 80°C were tested in vivo on 15 human subjects. Thermal effects were assessed histologically using either hematoxylin & eosin (H&E) or nitroblue-tetrazoliumchloride (NBTC) staining. Treatment effects and adverse events were also monitored clinically.

Results

The investigational bipolar RF device delivered controlled heating within dermal tissue. Histological staining with H&E revealed the presence of zones of denatured collagen within the reticular dermis. Lesions were generated at preselected temperatures between 60 and 80°C. Fractional lesions separated by zones of sparing as well as contiguous lesion patterns were demonstrated. Histological staining with H&E and NBTC revealed sparing of adnexal structures and adipose tissue. No major adverse events were observed.

Conclusions

A novel fractional RF device utilizing a minimally invasive bipolar microneedle delivery system for the treatment of human tissue was developed. Treatment of 15 human subjects illustrated the controlled creation of dermally located thermal coagulation zones, herein known as radiofrequency thermal zones. We discovered that varying the pulse length allowed for fractional sparing of dermal tissue. To our knowledge, this is the first report to describe use of a direct real-time temperature and impedance feedback system to control energy delivery during deep dermal heating. Lasers Surg. Med. 41:87–95, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.