Choosing the Right Radiofrequency Device for Your Beauty Business

Choosing the Right Radiofrequency Device for Your Beauty Business

Radiofrequency (RF) has been used in medicine dating back as far as 1931 to treat nerve pain with the first commercialized device available in 1950. Since then, and particularly over the last two decades, radiofrequency technology has made leaps in bounds when it comes to its aesthetic benefits spanning from skin tightening to skin resurfacing.

RF also helps reduce fat in a non-invasive manner, which has become an incredibly popular treatment for consumers worldwide. In fact, the non-invasive fat reduction market that includes technologies like lasers, cryolipolysis, and radiofrequency was globally valued at $1.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of (CAGR) of 16.1% from 2022 to 2030.

But not all radiofrequency technologies are the same. In fact, there are different types of polarities used for different purposes. If you have read anything on the topic you may have noticed differentiators like “monopolar,” “bipolar”, or “multipolar”. While these terms may seem confusing, once you understand the basics, they won’t be. Below we will break it all down so you can choose the best device for your beauty business.

What Is Radiofrequency?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, it is best to start with the basics of how radiofrequency energy can be used for non-invasive aesthetic purposes. RF energy is typically delivered via an applicator that is applied to the skin that delivers radiofrequency energy that converts to thermal heat deep into the dermis and sub-dermal layers in the targeted treatment areas.

So, what are radiofrequency waves? They are a form of radiation, which is a release of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. RF waves can be classified as either low or high energy depending on the amount of energy released. For context, x-rays are considered high energy while RF waves are considered to be low. Other examples of radio frequency include radio waves (as in your old stereo), WiFi, and microwaves. RF waves used for skin tightening and non-invasive fat reduction are about 1 billion times less energy than X-rays.

How Does RF Work For Aesthetic Purposes?

As we may know from other heat-based devices, thermal heat delivered to the skin initiates a healing response where more collagen and elastin are produced naturally leading to improved texture and tone of the skin. When the body’s fat cells are heated with radiofrequency energy, apoptosis occurs causing cell death and an overall reduction in body circumference and tightening of the skin. Since RF energy is electrical rather than light-based, the melanin in the skin remains unaffected by it so the risk for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is low.

Types Of Radiofrequency Used In Aesthetics

Now, we can get into the differences between the types of radiofrequency. RF is not defined by one specific type of technology. What makes them different is the number and configuration of electrodes in the applicators in addition to the varying electromagnetic field used to deliver the RF energy.

The classifications include monopolar, bipolar, and multipolar. Despite the differences, each type of technology works the same way. RF waves heat the deep layer of the skin to between 122 and 167°F (50–75°C). Studies have shown that maintaining a temperature over 115°F for over three minutes causes the body to release heat-shock proteins that stimulate the body to create new collagen fibers naturally, which is why it is beneficial for skin tightening.

Below we will break each of them down.

Monopolar Radiofrequency

Monopolar RF delivers energy to the skin with a single electrode and a grounding pad, sometimes called an “inactive pole”, which is typically placed behind the client while the electrode, also known as the “active pole” is applied to the treatment area. The energy from the active pole needs to return to the inactive pole for the treatment to be effective. Monopolar radiofrequency is highly regarded as an effective way to tighten the skin since it can treat every layer including subcutaneous fat.

Bipolar Radiofrequency

Bipolar RF utilizes two active poles that are placed in close proximity to one another and only allows the energy emitted to penetrate the skin superficially (sometimes as little as 1 mm deep). The bipolar radiofrequency energy in this configuration can typically only penetrate half of the length of the distance between the two active poles, which is considered to be a limitation when comparing monopolar RF to bipolar RF. However, bipolar RF still has its uses. The energy is more easily controlled when compared to other polarities and it is less painful than monopolar RF.

MultiPolar Radio Frequency

When multipolar RF configurations are used the energy alternates between multiple active poles that results in a more uniform treatment. Multipolar radiofrequency energy currents penetrate deeper than bipolar radiofrequency, but it doesn’t penetrate as deeply as monopolar.

For facial rejuvenation with multipolar RF, the localized heating causes an immediate contraction of the collagen fibers, while simultaneously increasing the metabolism of the fibroblasts, which stimulates the natural production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.

When multipolar RF is used for non-invasive body contouring or cellulite reduction, the RF energy is directed deeper into the skin in the hypodermis and the dermis to increase blood flow, lymphatic circulation, and the metabolism of fat cells to break down fatty deposits and tighten the skin.


If you are a beauty business owner or practitioner looking to learn about or add radiofrequency treatments to your specialized services, you will now have a better understanding of how this technology works and which polarities deliver the types of results you want for your clients.

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