By Maryann Mikhail, MD
Acne breakouts have a huge, negative impact on body image and self esteem. Even after the pimples and cysts are gone, many patients are left with scarring that continues to affect their quality of life. The good news is that technology continues to advance and the treatment of acne scars is safer and more effective than ever, with better lasers, microneedling, and the latest breakthrough: Secret RF (Radiofrequency) Microneedling.
Microneedling has become one of the mainstays of minimally invasive scar treatment. It involves using fine needles to create numerous controlled, invisible puncture wounds called “micro-injuries” in the skin. These micro-injuries break up scar tissue and stimulate the body’s natural wound healing response to rebuild the tissue in a more organized (i.e. less scarred) fashion. Now, the power of microneedling has been amplified with the addition of radiofrequency, revolutionizing how we treat acne scarring. Radiofrequency is a type of energy that heats tissue and stimulates production of new collagen and elastin. When combined with microneedling, RF is directly delivered to the scarred, problem areas below the skin.
Cutera’s Secret RF is an FDA cleared RF microneedling device that utilizes 25 or 64 gold tip needles to create controlled micro-injuries and precisely deliver radiofrequency. This device was designed to be totally customizable meaning: Your dermatologist determines the depth of needle penetration and the intensity of RF delivered based on your skin type, the treatment area, and the severity of scarring. Since it is so customizable, it is safe in all skin types.
At Spring Street Dermatology, patients numb for at least 40 minutes with a strong anesthetic called BLT (benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine) to ensure maximal comfort. The treatment itself takes 15 to 30 minutes depending on the area to be treated. Afterwards, skin is rinsed with saline and a healing moisturizer is applied. Most patients report a warm, sunburn like feeling afterwards that dissipates within 4-5 hours. By the next day, minimal redness, swelling, minute scabs and gridlines can be seen. At this point, make up can adequately cover the healing process, which takes 1-2 weeks in most cases. A series of treatments is recommended bases on the degree of scarring.
If you suffered with acne and are left with scars, Secret RF is the breakthrough you have been waiting for. By combining the power of two modalities, microneedling and radiofrequency, this device delivers unprecedented results without compromising safety.