(Procedures)

Of All The Radiofrequency Treatments I’ve Tried, This Non-Invasive Option Is The Best

FaceTite, Forma, Evoke, and more.

Enes Evren/ Getty Images
radiofrequency face treatment

It was the Kardashians that first got me. Having only recently watched their show for the first time, I found myself Googling how old the Kardashians could possibly be before my first episode was even over. Kim is 41, I learned, which seemed nearly impossible. Abidingly curious what their various beauty routines might be, I scoured the Internet that night, falling down a rabbit hole of the family’s favorite treatments. Did they invest in any RF skin tightening treatments like FaceTite? Morpheus8? Forma? Evoke? I was looking in particular for anything I might be both able and willing to do, which meant nothing involving my own blood (for a PRP treatment), or bee venom (which Kourtney admitted to using in 2016).

That’s how I found Forma — a radiofrequency treatment that the Kardashians have been known to receive at Los Angeles’ Le Jolie MediSpa. Just one treatment leaves skin looking sculpted, lifted, and brightened far more so than your average facial (or so they claim), and a series of about six treatments can replicate the look of a gentle non-surgical facelift. Curious, I stopped in at Le Jolie when I was in L.A., determined to give the Forma a try — and that was just the beginning of my journey into the world of radiofrequency skin care.

Forma Radiofrequency Treatment

The day I came by Le Jolie, I was just about to turn 35, and had noticed that the skin on my jawline was starting to droop, giving it a puffier appearance than I’d like. I’d been looking to do something to address the issue, but didn’t want to commit to anything overly invasive. Forma seemed like the perfect place to start. I had been expecting at least a little discomfort, but Forma felt instead like a hot stone massage. A nurse will smooth a conductive cream over your face, and then glide a laser wand across your skin. Each session takes about 20 minutes, and there is zero downtime — no redness, sensitivity, or any necessary aftercare to speak of. When I looked in the mirror after my treatment, I gasped. Because my face shape? It was distinctly Kardashian.

"Forma uses radio-frequency to heat the dermis causing it to stimulate the production of collagen,” Le Jolie’s co-founder Brian Nourian tells me. “As a result over time with new collagen, we see tightening, firmness, and rejuvenation. The combination of radiofrequency and heat creates a visibly tighter and more snatched appearance.”

My experience with Forma made me wonder what else I might be able to accomplish with radiofrequency in the name of a tighter jawline and overall more lifted appearance. What I found when I dug into the research was a wide array of treatments involving radiofrequency, like Evoke, Lutronic, FaceTite, and Morpheus8. Each of the procedures is different, and comes with a different level of invasiveness, downtime, and results. Here’s what I found.

Evoke Radiofrequency Treatment

My second port of call in search of a firmer jawline was to try Evoke, a radiofrequency treatment that targets the lower portion of the face specifically. So, I visited board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine’s Upper East Side clinic in Manhattan. Happily, the treatment is just as easy and painless as Forma. A headset-esque device that straps on over your head delivers bipolar radiofrequency energy anywhere it’s targeted along the cheeks, neck, and jawline. A session on my jaws took about half an hour, during which I scrolled through TikTok. The verdict? After just four sessions, spaced out a week apart, my jawline is noticeably slimmer and more lifted.

Dr. Levine wasn’t surprised. “Radiofrequency technology can produce collagen which causes tightening of the skin,” she says. “At higher temperatures, it also has the ability to destroy fat.” And a chiseled jawline isn’t the only benefit. “Evoke uses artificial intelligence to maintain the optimum temperature for collagen synthesis,” Dr. Levine added. “Evoke insures the correct temperature for the tissue without letting it get too hot to injure healthy tissue, and not too low that the collagen formation cannot be induced.” Translation? You’re getting maximum benefits with minimal risks. The treatment isn’t quite as relaxing as Forma — the headset fit is tight, and the heat can get a bit warm, but Evoke isn’t painful in the slightest, and the time flies by.

Lutronic Radiofrequency & Microneedling Treatment

For a treatment that targets your entire face, I turned next to Lutronic. This skin tightening laser treatment comes with a host of other additional benefits including collagen production and minimizing sun spots and acne scars. The treatment itself uses a combination of radiofrequency, microneedling, and laser to achieve results. When I visited Nurse Tara Adashev at Neinstein Plastic Surgery, she prepped my skin with numbing cream before running the device over my face for a total of about 10 minutes. I can’t lie — the treatment hurt from the needles and the heat, although not unbearably so. I was a bit red afterwards, but the redness faded within a few hours. But the results were amazing. Sun spots and old scars faded within just a few weeks of receiving my treatment, and my skin is still incredibly smooth from the treatment. Three sessions spaced about a month apart are recommended for best results, with maintenance sessions every 12 to 18 months.

“The Lutronic uses state of the art Thalium gas to regenerate, renew, and refresh skin cells,” Adashev explains “It works on all skin types, and is able to brighten skin tones, improve texture, decrease fine lines and wrinkles, as well as targeting brown spots and acne.” Tightening comes primarily from the collagen boost, and it has the benefit of being safe to use all year long (unlike some other lasers that should be avoided in the summer, since lasers can make your skin more sensitive to the sun). And perhaps the biggest benefit of all? Collagen production in the skin will continue to improve over the next six to nine months, meaning no matter how good you look a week after your treatment, it’s only going to get better from there.

FaceTite Radiofrequency Treatment

For someone looking for more fat reduction along with contouring and lifting, FaceTite is a more invasive option that uses radiofrequency energy under the skin to melt fat and stimulate collagen production. It can provide more substantial results that are similar to a facelift, or fat reduction options like liposuction, Coolsculpting, or Kybella; however, this does not require general anesthesia (which lipo and facelifts often do). Your provider will first administer local anesthesia, and then make a very small incision beneath the dermis. Then, they’ll insert a device called a cannula that looks a bit like a meat thermometer that delivers radiofrequency waves that have the ability to liquify fat cells. As the radiofrequency waves liquify the fat cells, a different tube will suction out the liquified fat. You can think about the treatment as a sort of combination between radiofrequency and liposuction.

The primary difference between FaceTite and more invasive options is how long the results last — FaceTite will likely last around five years, while a traditional facelift might last twice that long. But otherwise, FaceTite is going to mimic the results of a face lift pretty closely, and is the most intense radiofrequency option on the market. Even so, for patients like Laura Slater (seen above), who visited board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jacob Unger in Nashville, TN, FaceTite is worth every penny, as she calls the procedure “the best money I ever spent. [The] pain was completely manageable [with] prescription pain meds [for] one day, then Tylenol. I’m incredibly pleased with my results.”

You can expect potential side effects like bruising, swelling, and discomfort for a few days after the treatment, but the incisions are so small that no stitches are required. As with all radiofrequency treatments that stimulate collagen, full results may not be seen for a few months, as the new collagen takes time to build. The radiofrequency technique used also contracts and contours the skin, which leads to the sculpting and lifting effect.

Morpheus8 Radiofrequency Treatment

Another dramatic radiofrequency option that’s going to come with some downtime is Morpheus8. The treatment works by using radiofrequency to stimulate collagen, and has the ability to correct sagging, wrinkles, under eye bags, scarring, and puffiness in one fell swoop. A topical numbing cream is applied before a device that delivers radiofrequency energy via micro-pins administers the treatment, working on the subdermal level. Your practitioner will determine the best length of pin for your skin and aesthetic goals.

“Morpheus8 uses microneedling and radiofrequency together at different depths creating collagen and elastin, and in turn lifting and tightening the skin,” Dr. Nourian tells me. “The needles also have the capabilities to go up to 4mm in depth for the face, which can help with contouring as well.” As for how if differs from other less intensive combinations of radiofrequency and microneedling, Nurse Garrick explained to me that Morpheus uses active needles going into the skin, where Lutronic uses Thulium gas to create micochannels in the skin to stimulate collagen. The treatment is literally more invasive, which then calls for the increased recovery time.

The total time it takes to treat the face is approximately an hour and a half. You can expect some discomfort during the procedure, although the topical numbing cream helps. And as with FaceTite, there may be several days of swelling and discomfort after the treatment. The full results can be seen about six weeks after the treatment, as the collagen produced lifts and tightens the skin, restoring volume to any areas that have gone lax.

Morpheus8 is less invasive than FaceTite, and is particularly well suited for anyone looking to address sagging jowls or target stubborn fat on the face. There’s no target age range for the treatment versus less invasive alternatives — deciding what to get is just a matter of your particular goals. Since I wasn’t looking for anything overly dramatic — and also have a relatively low pain threshold — I opted not to undergo FaceTite or Morpheus8, but am thrilled with the lifting and sculpting I’m already seeing after just a few weeks of Evoke, Lutronic, and Forma.

Things To Consider For Radiofrequency Treatments

One important consideration with any radiofrequency treatment is how to pair a radiofrequency treatment with other treatments you might be undertaking, such as Botox. And the good part is, radiofrequency is safe in combination with Botox and fillers. “The combination of radiofrequency skin tightening and Botox enhances the effects for the patient,” explains Dr. David Shafer, a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan’s Shafer Clinic. “We often perform radiofrequency followed by Botox on the same day.” If you get Botox first, some practitioners do recommend waiting for about seven to 10 days before getting radiofrequency or any other kind of facial, so as to minimize the risk of Botox moving around. And as always, you’ll want to be particularly diligent about using sun protection after having a radiofrequency laser treatment, as the skin will be particularly susceptible to burns and damage.

Pricing for all of these procedures varies widely depending on your location and your provider, but generally, the less invasive the procedure, the lower the price tag. You can generally expect to spend several hundred dollars per treatment if you need multiple sessions, and $4,000-$7,000 on more invasive options like FaceTite.

A few weeks after receiving my series of Forma, Evoke, Botox, and Lutronic, I can already see the changes in my own face. I look younger than I did last year, and my face is notably more lifted, and my jawline far more defined. And when I started watching the Kardashians’ new series on Hulu the other night? Let’s just say I didn’t have to wonder anymore how everyone looked so fresh and sculpted.