INTRODUCTION Monopolar radiofrequency is an effective means of nonsurgical facial skin tightening.
OBJECTIVE The objective of this study was to determine whether using larger tips at lower energy and multiple passes, using patient feedback on heat sensation and treating to a clinical end point of visible tightening, would yield better results than single passes with small tips at high energy, as measured by patient and physician satisfaction.
METHODS Fourteen physicians from four specialties were surveyed to determine the answers to the following three questions. (1) Is patient's feedback on heat sensation a valid and preferred method for optimal energy selection? (2) Do multiple passes at moderate energy settings yield substantial and consistent efficacy? (3) Is treating to a clinical end point of visible tightening predictable of results?
RESULTS A total of 5,700 patient treatments were surveyed. Comparisons were made using the original algorithm of high-energy, single pass to the new algorithm of lower energy and multiple passes with visible tightening as the end point of treatment. Using the original treatment algorithm, 26% of patients demonstrated immediate tightening, 54% observed skin tightening 6 months after treatment, 45% found the procedure too painful, and 68% of patients found the treatment results met their expectations. With the new multiple-pass algorithm, 87% observed immediate tightening, 92% had the tightening six months after treatment, 5% found the procedure too painful, while 94% found the treatment results met their expectations.
CONCLUSIONS Patient feedback on heat sensation is a valid, preferable method for optimal energy selection in monopolar radiofrequency skin-tightening treatments.