HIFU vs RF: How are These Skin Tightening Technologies Different?

News & Updates Skin Tech

HIFU and RF are popular treatment technologies for skin laxity, but just how different are they and is one better than the other?

Wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin are some of the top concerns amongst patients. As the skin loses collagen and becomes less elastic, effects such as these are impossible to avoid.

The dermis layer of the skin is made up of collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and fibroblasts, with Type I collagen making up at least 80% of this layer. Each of these components provides structure, firmness and elasticity, so without it, the skin naturally starts to sag.

Once we reach the age of 25, our body’s collagen production begins to slow. In fact, collagen levels can drop by up to 2% every year. Lifestyle and genetics are two of the main factors that determine how drastically collagen levels drop.

Thanks to advancements in cosmetic technology, surgical facelifts have become a last resort for reversing these common signs of ageing. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and Radiofrequency (RF) treatments are now the preferred choice for patients who want a less invasive and convenient option.

HIFU vs RF: The Essentials


High-intensity focused ultrasound-based technology uses ultrasound energy to heat up tissues under the surface of the skin. This process causes new collagen to start forming, which gradually tightens and tones the targeted area. The long-term result is a youthful, lifted appearance due to the tightening of the underlying structures of the skin.

HIFU treatments are commonly undertaken to treat areas such as the jawline, neck, eyebrows and forehead. Basically, any areas where lines, folds and wrinkles most often appear due to a decrease in elasticity can be treated.

To ensure greater precision, the device that’s used during each session has a visual aid. What’s more, when performed by a qualified skin care technician, treatments are quick and pain-free.

The number of sessions required is dependent on age as well as the condition of the skin. In many instances, after just one HIFU treatment, patients are able to achieve their desired outcome for up to two years.


Radiofrequency-based technology uses electromagnetic waves to heat up the deep layers of the skin. This process causes the body to release proteins that stimulate the production of new collagen fibres. To avoid damaging the skin, temperatures are monitored and controlled throughout the session.

RF therapy can tighten and lift the skin on both the face and body by increasing collagen and elastin levels. After several sessions, patients can expect to see a noticeable improvement in their appearance.

Each session takes less than an hour to complete, is comfortable and doesn’t require any downtime.

HIFU vs RF: Which is a Better Fit?

Everyone ages differently and exhibits distinct signs of ageing. Genetics plays a leading role in how your skin ages, but lifestyle also contributes to the speed at which the skin ages.

One way that the skin tends to respond to volume loss is to sink, particularly in the mid-face, cheeks and temples. This creates a gaunt, tired and aged appearance. RF sessions paired with cosmetic injections can combat this type of volume loss.

The second way the skin can respond is to sag – this is the result of a loss of elasticity and collagen. HIFU treatments help tighten the SMAS layer of the skin, which reverses a sagging appearance. It can also get rid of any excess fat and tissue in the lower face that’s worsening the sagging effect.

Lastly, the skin also responds to a decrease in collagen by wrinkling, particularly around the eyes, lips, jawline and brows. When wrinkles are the primary concern, a combination of RF, HIFU and cosmetic injection treatments can have a positive effect.

In some instances, patients experience wrinkles and sagging, which is when a combination treatment is highly recommended. HIFU and RF treatments can’t be performed at the same time though, which is why a personalised treatment plan is required.


Cynosure’s ULTRAcel Q+ treatments utilise HIFU technology to reduce stubborn fat cells and tighten skin on the face and body.

The next level in HIFU technology, ULTRAcel Q+ treatments are changing the game when it comes to reducing fat and tightening skin on the face and body.

Fast becoming one of the most popular skin tightening solutions on the market, ULTRAcel Q+ boasts a number of benefits, including:

  • Quick treatments
  • Minimal discomfort
  • No downtime
  • Long-lasting results
  • Tightens and contours
  • Lifts and smooths for a younger appearance

Click here to find a ULTRAcel Q+ provider in your area.


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