Traditional Microneedling and RF Microneedling: What’s the Difference?

microneedling and RF microneedling DMV dermatologist

Growing old is inevitable, but we’re all young at heart. And we all want to look as young as we feel. Men and women around the globe have been exploring various skincare methods for younger-looking skin. 

Some people use a range of skincare products. Others prefer treatments. 

But microneedling is one of the more common and effective ways of transforming your skin.

There are two types, and we will discuss them in this post: traditional microneedling vs. radiofrequency (RF) microneedling.

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling is also called skin needling, collagen induction therapy (CIT), and percutaneous collagen induction (PCI). Regardless of its name,WebMD defines microneedling as “a cosmetic skin procedure that involves pricking the skin with tiny sterilized needles.”

The procedure stimulates the skin to produce new collagen and tissue that will result in smoother and firmer skin. It is usually done to treat acne, scars, fine lines, wrinkles, and even large pores. It is preferred since it’s relatively cheaper and safer compared to other cosmetic procedures.


In comparison: traditional microneedling vs. radiofrequency (RF) microneedling

As we have previously mentioned, there are now two types of microneedling: traditional and radiofrequency (RF). Traditional microneedling uses a handled “pen” or “roller” with tiny needles to glide over the skin. RF microneedling, on the other hand, “energizes” the needles by adding radiofrequency energy. This “energized” needles hastens the effects of the traditional microneedling and sends heat to the underlying skin to improve skin tightening. That RF energy makes it different from the conventional microneedling in a few ways.

1. RF Microneedling can reach deeper skin layers

With the traditional microneedling, only the top layers of the skin are being treated. With RF, however, the effects can go deeper. The RF energy delivered by the needles can, therefore, address the deeper dermal layer of the skin. This helps stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, tightening the skin.

2. RF Microneedling can treat severe lines and wrinkles

Microneedling, in general, treats wrinkles since it triggers collagen growth. Yet, with RF microneedling, the process of collagen production is being boosted because of the heat from the RF energy that reaches underlying skin layers. As such, RF microneedling can address severe lines and wrinkles that traditional microneedling may not be able to treat.

3. RF Microneedling is better at addressing scars.

RF microneedling also brings better results compared to traditional microneedling when it comes to scars. Acne scars and other blemishes create thick, rough patches of damaged skin. The damaged skin may be too challenging to deal with the traditional puncturing of needles. This is why you would need the RF microneedling. The RF energy from the needles can break up those tough patches of damaged skin. Your dermatologist can address more extensive, thicker scars by controlling the intensity of the RF device. 

4. RF Microneedling is customizable

Do you know that RF microneedling is customizable? As we have briefly mentioned, dermatologists can specify the amount of RF energy to be added to the procedure. The RF energy is adjusted based on the size and depth of treatment needed.  RF microneedling machines can even customize the depth of the needle that will be used on your skin. This makes the procedure versatile and may also be a substitute for ablative laser procedures.

Pricking the skin with needles? That sounds dangerous.

Microneedling is generally safe for most people with good health. There are a few exceptions to keep in mind, namely:

  • An active skin infection
  • Persons with active acne or taking some acne medications
  • Persons prone to keloid scarring 
  • Pregnant women.

Microneedling does have some minor risks, with irritation the primary concern. Other side effects would be swelling, discomfort, redness, bruising, dryness, and skin flaking. If you had a more in-depth treatment, you might also experience bleeding. RF microneedling may also cause some superficial burns because of the heat from the RF energy. The side effects are rare but go away in short order. With that in mind, it is best to have a dermatologist perform the microneedling procedure. These doctors can manage any risks and provide the right tools and knowledge to deal with all skin types. With the method, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

How much will it cost?

The cost will depend mainly on the area/s that will be treated – specifically, the location and the size. According to Dermapen, the price varies from 30-minute to 1-hour sessions. RF Microneedling may cost more than traditional microneedling as the results are higher.

To obtain the best results, you would need at least four sessions. The number of treatments required will then vary depending on your age and skin condition. Over time, the skin becomes healthier, firmer, and can tolerate the sessions. This means fewer sessions with long-term results. 

Also, since microneedling is a cosmetic procedure, you must take note that it is not covered by medical insurance. Be prepared to pay for your sessions out of pocket.

What to do Before and After Microneedling

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your session and best practices for after the procedure.

Before the microneedling session

Remember to do (or not do) these things before your microneedling appointment:

  • Avoid sun exposure 24 hours before your session
  • Make sure that your face is clean and bare when you go to the clinic
  • Do not take the acne medication (Accutane) within six months prior


After the microneedling session

To obtain the best results and for faster healing, here are the best practices:

  • Do not wash your face within four hours after the session.
  • For the first three days, wash only with water or a gentle cleanser.
  • Do not engage in any strenuous exercise, including swimming.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • If you notice your skin peeling or flaking, do not scratch it or peel it off. Instead, use a gentle moisturizer with sunscreen.
  • You may apply cosmetics to lessen redness and peeling.
  • Complete the necessary number of sessions as advised by your doctor.


Now it’s your turn: Which will you try?

Without a doubt, microneedling can improve the look and feel of your skin. Traditional microneedling has been around for decades and has been a go-to for many dermatologists. With RF technology added, the mid-layer of the skin can then be treated safely, while increasing the benefits of microneedling. Are you looking for pure skin rejuvenation to make you look and feel younger? Try traditional microneedling. If you’ve been struggling with scars, acne, and deep wrinkles, opt for an RF procedure. Speak with your dermatologist, who can help you decide which procedure works best based on your skin goals.


About Eternal Dermatology

For expert consultation and a pleasant, safe microneedling experience, call 301-678-5772. Also, you can book an appointment online. Dr. Ife Rodney is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist. She is an expert in skincare, anti-aging, and skin rejuvenation for all skin types. Eternal Dermatology is conveniently located in Fulton, MD, and serves Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Laurel, Bowie, Silver Spring,  and Howard County, Maryland.



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