I moved to New York City when I was 22, and I’m fairly sure my pace of life hasn’t slowed down since. Between work and life responsibilities, now that I’m not in my 20s, I’ve found that treatments requiring little or no downtime are best for me and my schedule. These days, I’m no longer in my early twenties, but I still very much appreciate (and seek out) treatments that have relatively quick recovery periods.
With that said, just like my evolving age, my skin concerns and priorities have changed in tandem. After my last birthday (in April), my research — specifically regarding the reduction of fine lines — began.
As it turns out, there are a variety of ways to treat lines — some with less downtime than others. Although I personally haven’t tried it yet, one option that meets my “little-downtime-as-possible” is Vivace® RF, a minimally invasive fractional microneedling treatment that uses radio frequency to provide heat in order to stimulate collagen production. Fine lines aren’t the only indication for Vivace RF. It can also tighten and tone the skin on the neck, hands, and parts of the body.
While this all sounded wonderful to me, it’s essential to really do your homework when considering medical aesthetics treatments to know if it’s right for you — and I had more questions than answers. Here, Morris Westfried, MD, double board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Aesthetics℠ in New York City, breaks down everything you need to know about this multi-tasking treatment.
As always, talk to your doctor before undergoing any new treatment.
First, how does Vivace RF work?
“It's a device that makes tiny holes in the skin, like a needle,” says Dr. Westfried. “It’s using a disposable tip and connecting into a machine that's generating energy.” He explains the treatment combines radiofrequency or energy with microneedling. So, in addition to stimulating the wounding (and healing) process with the needles, it amplifies those benefits due to the radiofrequency energy coming out of the tip of the microneedle array.
What results can Vivace RF treatments deliver?
It has an effect on wrinkling, says Dr. Westfried. It also tightens skin, minimizes pore size, and improves skin tone and texture.
Is the treatment restrictive to certain skin colors?
According to Dr. Westfried, Vivace RF has more flexibility in darker skin, compared to lasers. Most skin colors are candidates.
How long does the treatment take, from start to finish?
“If it's face only, or face and neck, you are looking at 25 to 45 minutes,” Dr. Westfried says. “The time span depends on how big the treatment area is.” However, keep in mind that your provider will likely treat the area with numbing cream first. Allow for about 30 to 45 minutes pre-treatment to let the cream kick in so you’ll be comfortable during your appointment.
What should candidates do before the treatment?
The pre-care for Vivace RF treatment is pretty simple. Ideally, you should take a short break (about four days) from using alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoids, as they could make your skin extra-sensitive. Otherwise, just show up with a bare face. “Take off all makeup and degrease the face with toner,” advises Dr. Westfried. “An over-the-counter surgical cleanser like Hibiclens® is optional.”
What does Vivace RF feel like? Does it hurt?
An occasional light, sparking sensation (like Pop Rocks® on your skin!) may occur. The treatment often yields a light pressure, yet with numbing cream, it’s virtually free of discomfort.
How many sessions are required, and how far apart?
It all comes down to the individual person and their goals. “You can get some results even in one session,” says Dr. Westfried. “People usually do a series of two or three.” Vivace RF appointments are usually spaced four to six weeks apart.
What’s the biggest difference between radiofrequency and laser treatment results?
Dr. Westfried says patients will see a bigger result with lasers than Vivace RF. “But, the laser, by definition, is going to have a stage of wound scabbing,” says Dr. Westfried. “There is downtime with that.” Generally, treatments with more downtime (like an aggressive resurfacing laser) deliver more dramatic results.
How long is the downtime after Vivace RF?
No need to book this treatment over a long weekend: “There isn't any downtime with Vivace RF,” says Dr. Westfried. “They may be pink for one to two days, depending on the person, but patients can go back to work.”
Should patients avoid anything specific after the treatment?
“They can exercise, however, their face may become red, because the little microchannels take a number of days to seal up,” Dr. Westfried says. Makeup is a no-no for at least six hours after treatment, and you’ll want to avoid external products on your face for the rest of the day. His suggestion: “Wash it. That's about it.” And, of course, stay out of the sun to protect your new skin — but hopefully, you knew that already!
Is moisturizer safe to use after the treatment?
Dr. Westfried says moisturizer is okay, however, the simplest thing one can use is a thin coat of Aquaphor® ($12). “Wipe off the excess with a tissue,” he advises. The ointment will help seal in hydration and expedite the healing process, so all you see in the mirror is smoother, tauter skin.
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