Hi Dr. Irwin! I am a 58 y.o. who had corrective jaw surgery many years ago. It left me with some titanium pins and screws permanently in the bone. Am I precluded from doing radio frequency skin-tightening treatments? Or lasers? Thank you for your great advice and helpful tips! Kathleen This is a somewhat complicated topic, but I’ll try to distill it into something that makes sense. Lasers are light based devices and don’t affect metal implants.
Two types of RF devices
There are two main types of RF (radiofrequency) devices used for aesthetic skin improvement….. monopolar and bipolar. Why does this even matter to you? It’s because it relates to the question above. And…it impacts the safety of the device for you, if you have any metal in your body that’s permanent or semi permanent.
Monopolar. In this type a “grounding pad” is used and attached somewhere else on the body. Energy flows between the device “head” and the pad. While it travels through the body, it can heat up any metal that is near the energy flow. Often surgical glues are used to help hold pins, and plates, etc in place. So you all are smart, and we don’t want the heat to affect the glue or metal and loosen it, perhaps causing it to fail.
Bipolar. In these, the two “poles” for the RF energy to pass between are both in the treatment head of the device, so the energy is unlikely to travel beyond the local area of treatment.
What this means for you?
Bottom line is that your doctor or “provider” or you should absolutely talk to the company who makes the device, if there is any question or confusion. You want an opinion from the medical director for the device. Some examples:
Thermage: This has a grounding pad, so if the grounding pad is on the back and face is being treated, you don’t want metal anywhere near the head or in between. So for example, if you have a metal hip, and are treating the face, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Profound: This does not have a grounding pad, so you don’t want metal implants under or near the area being treated, but a metal pin in the shoulder could be fine.
In summary, the bottom line is check with the company for an opinion, if there is any question.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Can I use RF skin tightening if I have metal screws, plates and pins? | Skintour