Your Ultimate Guide to Radio-Frequency Skin Treatments

“If it is a combination therapy [such as] radio frequency and microneedling, you will leave with nano-injuries to the skin’s upper layers, which leave skin vulnerable in the first 48 hours,” says Beverly Hills board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D. “Practice full sun avoidance with a hat, sunglasses, and shade. That evening, you should avoid washing or touching the face.”

Immediately Following Treatment

Due to the vulnerability of the skin, your provider might choose to apply a serum of growth-factors and healing agents before you leave the office. For instance, Dr. Ava recommends patent-pending SoMe Skincare, which is made with the patient’s own platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to aid with healing. 

If you don’t receive a specific healing serum in-office, Dr. Shamban suggests applying your own. “Generally, look for soothing, healing, and calming ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, antioxidants, peptides, aloe, calendula, and petroleum- or glycerin-based [formulas],” she says. “Avoid any physical or chemical exfoliants, enzymes, or vitamin A derivatives.”

The Next Morning

The next morning and following day, you may notice inflammation and puffiness following a radio-frequency and microneedling session. Dr. Shamban recommends cleansing with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. You can also apply a serum from the provider or a light layer of a petroleum-based barrier balm like Aquaphor, but not much else. 

“Avoid makeup that next day, and sunscreen can follow. I recommend a physical sunscreen, but not a chemical sunscreen,” she continues, noting that sun avoidance should still be a priority. She also says that while ice packs are beneficial, it matters which kind you choose. “Do not use hard ice packs. You can use the soft, flexible kind, and have them [feel] cool, not cold.” She also recommends sleeping on your back.

Day Two Post-Treatment

For the following 12 hours to two days, Dr. Shamban advises avoiding sweat-inducing workouts or practices — so forget hot yoga, and reschedule your trips to the infrared sauna or steam room. She says to be mindful not to use any anti-inflammatory medications (take Tylenol, if necessary) and you should still be avoiding anything abrasive in your skin-care or makeup routine.

“Do not use exfoliants, retinoids or retinols, dermal brushes, makeup brushes, or any other type of friction-creating material to the skin,” says Dr. Shamban, noting that while it’s preferred not to apply makeup at this stage, you can if necessary. 

72 Hours and Onward

“On day four or five, you can usually return to your normal routine for morning and night in terms of cleansing, hydrating, and serum, as well as your preferred sunscreen,” Dr. Shamban says. “I suggest easing back into the more aggressive and advanced-level exfoliating ingredients, active acids, or retinoids.”