RF Microneedling vs Traditional Microneedling: What is the difference?

Microneedling was invented more than a century ago by German dermatologist Ernst Kromayer. He rightly believed it could improve natural function and boost skin rejuvenation.

More than a hundred years later, the technique remains as popular as ever. Beauty lovers swear by its ability to assist the skin by reducing the appearance of imperfections and improving glow.

However, now there’s a new kid on the block: RF microneedling. This therapy may enhance conventional results through radio-frequency technology.

This post explains microneedling and the RF variety in more detail. Then, it compares the two treatments, explaining the pros and cons of each.

What Is Microneedling?

Microneedling is a treatment that involves making thousands of tiny punctures in the upper layers of the skin. Clinicians apply a specialized roller device with hundreds of tiny needles to the dermis, creating microtrauma in the upper layers.

The technique sounds destructive, but scientific research and clinical experience prove its effectiveness. Theory suggests that microneedling-induced microtrauma has a hormetic effect on the skin, activating its endogenous rejuvenation pathways and helping it renew from the inside out.

For example, the treatment boosts various enzymes and skin-improving proteins in the upper dermal layers. Similar to intense exercise, the body mounts a response to the trauma, causing an influx of healing and rejuvenating factors.

Microneedling may also improve blood flow to the dermis. Skin appears brighter in the weeks following treatment due to improved microvascularization.  

The effectiveness of microneedling means you can use it for various skin complaints, including reducing wrinkles, evening skin tone, and fighting dullness. It is also an effective treatment for acne scars and stubborn hyperpigmentation. Some therapists also recommend it for improved hyaluronic acid delivery for more hydrated skin.

RF Microneedling

RF microneedling is identical to conventional microneedling but adds radio frequency (RF) energy to the technique to stimulate a more comprehensive skin response. The mechanical action of the roller device stimulates the upper dermal layers while the RF penetrates deeply for more complete coverage.

Clinicians deliver the radiofrequency via energized needles that create micro-punctures in the skin. Researchers believe combining the two methods improves the production of elastin, collagen, and plumping hyaluronic acid levels in the skin, making it highly effective.

Is RF Microneedling Superior To Conventional Microneedling?  

RF microneedling may be superior to conventional treatment across several measures. However, the latter may be better for you under some circumstances.

Treatment Depth

RF microneedling treats the deeper layers of the skin, while conventional microneedling only treats superficial layers. Radiofrequency can penetrate up to 3mm, while mechanical approaches may only reach cells 1mm into the dermis.

Increased penetration is beneficial because it can better break up tangled tissue and melanin patches responsible for scars and hyperpigmentation. It also activates cellular rejuvenating pathways to fight wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Collagen Production

RF microneedling may also be more effective at stimulating collagen than conventional microneedling approaches. Adding radiofrequency induces mild stress on skin cells deeper inside the dermis, encouraging them to produce more of the substance to protect themselves.

Researchers believe the extra collagen product arises from the tiny columns of thermal energy released into skin cells from RF. This distress forces an adaptive response, causing the parts of the cell responsible for producing protective substances to go into overdrive, sometimes reversing the effects of aging.

Similarly, regular microneedling still stimulates collagen. However, the extra collagen and elastin production usually only arises from the upper layers of the skin, diminishing results.

Skin Tightening

RF microneedling is also superior for skin tightening compared to conventional treatment. Again, that’s because it can reach the lower layers of the skin.

RF microneedling induces coagulation and collagen remodeling. Radiofrequency energy breaks up old structures and encourages the production of new ones. Standard microneedling cannot do this as effectively.


However, RF microneedling doesn’t hold all the advantages. Recovery may take longer and involve more discomfort.

The reason for this is that RF microneedling penetrates deeper into the skin. Cells lower in the dermis must recover from the treatment, leading to slightly more redness and inflammation.

With that said, microneedling techniques are minimally invasive. While sun protection is necessary, you can return to your regular schedule after either treatment.


RF microneedling also offers a high degree of customization to maximize results. Whereas clinicians can only adjust needle depth for regular microneedling, they can also adjust energy intensity when using radiofrequency.

This customization is helpful if you have particularly thin or thick skin or want to target a specific problem area. Clinicians can adjust settings to meet your needs.

Overall Effectiveness

Overall, RF microneedling is more effective for:

  • Acne scars
  • Wrinkles
  • Skin tone
  • Dullness

Therefore, you may want to consider it if traditional microneedling approaches haven’t worked for you previously. Adding RF is a safe way to deliver extra energy to deeper skin cells and encourage them to behave more youthfully.

Factors To Consider When Choosing RF Microneedling

Researchers and clinicians consider RF microneedling a safe and effective treatment to improve skin quality. However, there are still several factors you need to consider.

For example, RF microneedling is a premium treatment because it requires more advanced equipment. Therefore, you may need to look at your budget.

You might also need to talk to your dermatologist about RF microneedling if you have sensitive skin. Professionals can tell you if the treatment is suitable for you.

With that said, RF microneedling gives you long-lasting results. Your skin may appear plumper, tighter, and more radiant for longer compared to conventional approaches.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, microneedling and RF microneedling are highly effective treatments for improving skin quality. However, the latter may be superior across multiple dimensions, including results. While it usually costs more and requires longer recovery, it can improve many of the most intractable skin complaints, including scarring and hyperpigmentation.

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