Sofwave vs. Radiofrequency Microneedling: Which is the Superior Option?

Jan 2, 2024 | Blog, Facial Procedures | 0 comments

In the quest for youthful and vibrant skin, many people turn to non-surgical skin tightening treatments. These procedures stimulate collagen production to tighten, contour, and lift the face and neck effectivly. Two popular options in the market are radiofrequency microneedling and Sofwave. While both treatments offer impressive results, they differ in technology, target areas, and treatment experience. Here, we will compare these two treatments to help you make an informed decision on which one is right for you. To properly understand these treatments, we must go back to their inception and view them not only as treatments but as forms of technology. Radiofrequency Microneedling (RF Microneedling) has its roots in theory and research done in the late 1990s, with commercialization and widespread adoption only occurring in the past decade.

Key Milestones

  • 1997: Dr. Andre Pichon develops and publishes the concept of “fractional photothermolysis,” using lasers to deliver heat to specific depths within the skin, laying the groundwork for targeted energy delivery, a crucial component of the technology.

  • 2000s: Microneedling, utilizing tiny needles to create controlled injuries and stimulate collagen production, gains traction as a minimally invasive skin rejuvenation technique and as a treatment method for aiding those with scars.

  • 2006: Dr. Michael Gold introduces the concept of combining microneedling with radiofrequency energy delivery, potentially enhancing collagen stimulation through deeper heat penetration.

Commercialization and Approval

  • 2009: Ellanse, a radiofrequency microneedling device with insulated needles, receives FDA clearance for facial wrinkle reduction. This is widely considered to be the primary precursor to modern RF microneedling systems in use today.

  • 2014: The Accent Prime System with radiofrequency microneedling capabilities receives FDA clearance for facial wrinkles as well as rhytides (folds in the skin). This marked a seminal moment for the broader adoption of RF microneedling technology.

  • 2016: Several other RF microneedling devices receive FDA clearance for various indications, including the very well known (and celebrity endorsed) Morpheus8 system. These systems were approved for wrinkle reduction and treatment of acne scars. Another one of them was Secret RF specifically designed for fine lines, as well as Profound RF for skin tightening and deeper wrinkle reduction.

What is Radiofrequency Microneedling

Radiofrequency microneedling is a procedure which combines the benefits of microneedling and radiofrequency energy together into a single unified form of dermal treatment. During the treatment, a device with tiny needles is used to create micro-injuries in the skin while simultaneously delivering radiofrequency energy. This energy penetrates deep into the dermis, stimulating collagen and elastin production. How Does Radiofrequency Microneedling Work? The microneedles create controlled micro-injuries in the skin, triggering the body’s natural healing response. This response includes the production of new collagen and elastin, which promote skin tightening and rejuvenation. The radiofrequency energy further enhances the collagen-stimulating effects, resulting in tighter, smoother, and more youthful-looking skin. This definition of how it works may sound intrusive, but in reality it’s not as scary as the definition may imply. The needles are indeed relatively diminutive, and the idea isn’t to mar the tissue or cause major disturbance, but rather to create highly intentional tissue disruption of a minimal nature. What Areas Can be Treated with Radiofrequency Microneedling? Radiofrequency microneedling is a versatile treatment that can be used on various areas of the face and body. It is commonly used to target:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles

  • Sagging or lax skin

  • Acne scars

  • Enlarged pores

  • Uneven skin texture

  • Stretch marks

Treatment Experience & Results

Radiofrequency microneedling is a procedure performed in a clinical setting, though it is minimally invasive in nature, it does require a highly trained professional to apply — just as all similar skin treatments do. Before the treatment, a numbing cream is applied to ensure your comfort. During the procedure, a handheld device is passed over the targeted areas, creating microscopic punctures and delivering radiofrequency energy. After the procedure, you experience redness, swelling, and skin sensitivity, which typically tend to largely subside within a period of seven to ten days. The treatment may cause some degree of discomfort, but most patients find the experience tolerable. Optimal results are usually achieved after a series of treatments, with noticeable improvements in skin texture, firmness, and overall appearance occurring gradually, and not being fully realized until a few months after the treatment regimen is completed.

What is Sofwave?

Sofwave is an FDA-cleared skin tightening and smoothing treatment that utilizes advanced ultrasound technology. Unlike radiofrequency microneedling, Sofwave specifically focuses on delivering ultrasound energy to the mid-dermis, where it stimulates collagen production and provides a deep skin tightening effect. How Does Sofwave Work? Sofwave employs patented parallel beam technology to deliver ultrasound energy at a depth of 1.5 millimeters. This depth is ideal for targeting the mid-dermis (layer of skin), where collagen synthesis occurs. By precisely heating the mid-dermis, Sofwave activates the body’s natural healing response, leading to the production of new collagen and elastin fibers. This results in tighter, lifted, and more youthful-looking skin. What Areas Can be Treated with Sofwave? Sofwave is particularly (though not exclusively) effective in treating areas of the face and neck that have lost laxity. It can address concerns such as:

  • Sagging eyebrows

  • Lax jawline

  • Neck laxity

  • Acne scarring

  • Cellulite

  • Sagging skin of the arms

The treatment can also be used on other parts of the body, including the hands, abdomen, arms, thighs and elsewhere. Treatment Experience & Results of Sofwave Sofwave is a less severe, non-invasive treatment that requires no downtime for recovery. Before the procedure, a conducting gel is applied to the treatment area. The handheld device is then systematically moved across the skin to be treated, delivering ultrasound energy into the mid-dermis. During the treatment, patients typically experience minimal discomfort. There is no flushing, bruising, or swelling, allowing you to resume your daily activities immediately after the procedure. While optimal results take time to develop, patients can expect a tighter, more youthful-looking appearance as new collagen continues to be produced over the following months.

Comparison Radiofrequency Microneedling & Sofwave

Both radiofrequency microneedling and Sofwave are effective skin tightening treatments, but they differ in terms of technology, target areas, and treatment experience. Sofwave is a non-invasive treatment which differs markedly from RF microneedling in several key respects. By using non-penetrating advanced ultrasound technology to deliver treatment to the dermis, it’s also highly effective. Its ideal target areas are the face, neck, and body — the same application profile as RF Microneedling in this key respect. Where the two primarily differ is in the recovery time and invasiveness of the procedures themselves. While much hype has surrounded RF Microneedling since its inception due to a rash of companies conducting multiple high-energy, high-profile marketing campaigns, the truth may not match the hype. Despite a more renowned reputation and celebrity endorsements, RF microneedling is indeed a more invasive procedure with numerous drawbacks to consider for the average person. The pain, swelling and overall downtime from RF Microneedling may take as long as ten days to abate, during which time redness and swelling are relatively common. Though minor in comparison to many other medical procedures, this is an inconvenience of significant difference from Sofwave, and it’s one inherent to the technology itself. Another difference of consequence is that of treatment frequency. Sofwave treatment may be done on a one-time basis, with effects gently emerging over-time. Sofwave only requires very infrequent maintenance, just once every year or two. RF Microneedling, on the other hand, typically requires multiple treatments and must be maintained on an annual or semi-annual basis. This impermanence and fast dissipation of results is a drawback many are unaware of.

Choosing the Right Treatment for You

The most important consideration — and one often overlooked — is that of the practitioner and their experience. These are both treatments which may have a profoundly positive impact if performed correctly and potentially negative (though impermanent) impact if not.

When deciding between radiofrequency microneedling and Sofwave, it’s critical to consider your specific concerns and treatment goals. Radiofrequency microneedling is a versatile option that can address a wide range of skin issues, while Sofwave offers focused skin tightening and lifting effects, it too can address a wide range of skin issues.

The marketing surrounding RF microneedling has been a significant catalyst for many to choose it. It’s essential to understand these are both relatively new technologies and that though one may be more widely known — or endorsed and marketed, it does not mean it’s necessarily a better option. If you are looking for overall skin rejuvenation, including targeting fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and uneven texture, radiofrequency microneedling or Sofwave may both be viable choices. On the other hand, if you are primarily concerned with sagging eyebrows, a lax jawline, or loose neck tissue, Sofwave could be the ideal treatment for you. Remember, every individual is unique, and results may vary. It’s essential to have realistic expectations and avoid those promising things which sound too good to be true. In conclusion, both radiofrequency microneedling and Sofwave offer effective solutions for skin tightening and rejuvenation. Sofwave is a newer technology and less widely known about. However, it is also less invasive, with much longer lasting results and little to no recovery time. The number of treatments and frequency between them afforded by Sofwave makes it’s an inherently less arduous option that makes it worth considering.

If you’re like many people who have considered skin tightening after learning about its benefits online, we highly recommend consulting a trained professional who understands both technologies and can examine you and inform you of your unique needs.