Patients young and old come to Dr. Andrews with concerns about the look and health of their skin. As we age, there are inevitable changes that occur deep in our skin that ultimately manifest as fine lines and textural changes on the surface of our skin. Years of sun exposure and inadequate skin care can cause premature aging of the skin. Repeated bouts of childhood acne can also leave our skin chronically scarred. At PCI Plastic Surgery in Cedar Rapids, we now have a new and exciting treatment that can reverse some of the cutaneous signs of aging and chronic sun exposure and can also dramatically improve the appearance of acne scars. The treatment is called radiofrequency (RF) microneedling with platelet rich plasma and we are excited that we are the first aesthetic practice in Iowa to offer this innovative technology.
Traditional Microneedling vs. Fractional Micro-Needle Radiofrequency
Traditional microneedling has been performed by physicians for many years to improve skin texture and tone for skin rejuvenation and to treat scars including acne scars. Microneedling creates tiny micro-channels in the skin, essentially a controlled injury. The body responds by making new collagen and elastin to heal the injury, which is why it has also been called “collagen induction therapy.” Microneedling has grown in popularity recently as it has been shown to produce consistent and noticeable improvements in skin quality and in the appearance of acne scars. Microneedling has also been combined with topical application of serums and platelet rich plasma as many believe that the micro-channels can be used to increase delivery of the topically applied therapies to the deeper layers of the skin. Various microneedling devices are available from simple dermal rollers that are available over-the-counter to electronic dermal pens that are used by dermatologists and skin-care specialists in physicians’ offices and medical spas.
Radiofrequency has been used in medicine for over 60 years. Radiofrequency is an electrical current that can be delivered to tissues to treat a variety of ailments. When radiofrequency energy is delivered to tissues, heat is generated which causes changes to occur in the treated areas. RF energy is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms by halting transmission of aberrant electrical pathways in the heart. It is used to treat chronic pain by preventing transmission of pain signals in treated nerve and is used to ablate varicose veins in the legs.
Fractional micro-needle radiofrequency employs microneedles to deliver RF energy deep within the skin to directly stimulate the fibroblasts to produce collagen and elastin. This is different from traditional microneedling in that there is both the mechanical injury induced by the needles but also the tips of the needles deliver RF energy to the deep layers of the skin. The heat generated by the RF energy has 2 important effects. The heat causes immediate shortening of the existing collagen fibers producing an immediate tightening of the skin, similar to the changes that occur with the fibers of a sweater put in a dryer. The second and more durable result is the induction of collagen and elastin formation which acts to enhance the neocollagenesis and neoelastogenesis produced by the mechanical injury from the microneedles. Fractional micro-needle radiofrequency can produce dramatic improvement skin in tone, texture and tightening and significant improvement in the appearance of acne scars.
Fractional micro-needle radiofrequency can induce many of the same changes seen with ablative laser therapy with less downtime. Fractional micro-needle radiofrequency can be associated with slight redness for 24-48 hours, much less post-procedure redness than is seen with ablative laser therapy. Fractional micro-needle radiofrequency does not require antiviral therapy or post-procedure skin care regimens that are often employed after laser therapy. Because fractional micro-needle radiofrequency does not result in post-procedure hyperpigmentation, it can be performed on all skin types including darker skinned patients, unlike laser therapy.
At PCI Plastic Surgery we offer the innovative FDA-approved Intensif fractional micro-needle radiofrequency by EndyMed. The Intensif system employs tips that contain 25 gold-plated microneedles that penetrate the skin to a maximum depth of 3.5 mm to deliver the RF energy. We are the only practice in Iowa that offers this exciting treatment.
EndyMed’s Intensif treatment has been highlighted on the show The Doctors.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelets are the body’s first responders to tissue injury. They sense injury and enter the tissues from the blood to initiate the repair process. They contain very important proteins called growth factors. The growth factors are essentially the “telephone numbers” for the cells that facilitate tissue repair.
The PRP is produced in the office at the time of the procedure. We simply draw a sample of blood into a special tube, spin the blood in a centrifuge and harvest the “platelet rich plasma (PRP).” The PRP is a highly concentrated platelet solution that we inject directly into the skin that has been treated with our Intensif fractional micro-needle radiofrequency device. Injecting PRP immediately after the microneedling procedure can significantly enhance the effects of the procedure as we are hyper-stimulating the cells that are responsible for producing collagen and elastin and new blood vessels in response to the controlled injury induced by the microneedling. Microneedling and PRP work synergistically to tone and tighten skin. This combination has been termed the “vampire facelift” by its inventor Dr. Charles Runels.
PRP is being used by oral surgeons to promote bone healing and orthopedic surgeons to treat arthritis and tendon injuries with great success. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists adopted PRP for aesthetic skin rejuvenation after witnessing the achievements of the other specialists. At PCI Plastic Surgery, PRP can be used in combination fractional micro-needle radiofrequency to treat fine lines and wrinkles, stretch marks, acne scars and even mild form of hair loss.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Most patients require a series of 3 treatments spaced 4 weeks apart.
How soon will I see my results?
Most will see improvement several weeks after the treatment but the full results will likely take months to be fully realized.
How Long Will It the Results Last?
The durability of the results will depend on a number of factors including the age of the patient but most will require a touch-up procedure at 1 year after an Intensif treatment.
How Much Does an Intensif Treatment Cost?
The cost can vary based on the number of treatments required and on the adjunctive procedures recommended such as PRP. We now have discounted packages available for under $2000.
Am I a Candidate?
Patients who desire skin tightening and those with fine lines and wrinkles or those with acne scars are ideal candidates. We would be happy to see you for a free consultation to determine whether you are a candidate for the procedures.
Does it Hurt?
Most patients have only minor discomfort after the topical local anesthetic that is placed takes full effect.
How Long Does It Take?
The procedure takes 1-1.5 hours depending on the treated area and on the other adjunctive treatments provided.
Call PCI in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City today to learn more about EndyMed Intensif fractional micro-needle radiofrequency and platelet rich plasma and to schedule your free consultation and skin assessment today at (319) 382-8230.