Dr. Steve Weiner: “FINALLY…A Radiofrequency (RF) Skin Tightening Device that Makes Sense. Infini by Lutronic.” Includes an overview of the RF skin tightening industry.

Before and after one treatment with the Infini.  After is 8 weeks after the treatment.

Before and after one treatment with the Infini. After is 8 weeks after the treatment.

Infini treatment of the forehead

Infini treatment of forehead lines. After (right) is 8 weeks after one treatment.

Infini RF skin tightening of face

Infini RF treatment of face and neck. After (right) is 6 weeks after 1 treatment. Show improvement in jowls, jawline, upper eyelids, and cheeks wrinkles.

Infini b and a, 8 weeks between photos.

Infini b and a, 8 weeks between photos, left is after

Infini treatment for neck and lower face wrinkles.

Infini treatment for neck and lower face wrinkles.

15 hours after Infini Treatment

15 hours after having the Infini Treatment, ready for work

3 hours after Infini Treatment, she had already gone to yoga

3 hours after Infini Treatment, she had already gone to yoga

 

Dr. Weiner’s White Paper on Infini (more medical terms and more detailed than blog)

Dr. Weiner explains why Coagulation is so important in tightening skin

Radiofrequency use in medical treatments has over a 70 year history.  It has been used for multiple applications but the most exciting innovations recently have been in skin tightening.  Thermage in 2002 was the first to market a device which was FDA approved to tighten skin and improve wrinkles.  Since then, there have been a least a dozen devices come to market with similar technology including:  Exilis, Venus Freeze, Pelleve, Viora Reaction, 3Deep RF, Accent XL, eMatrix, eTwo, TriPolar RF, ReFirme, Sublime, Fractora, Evolastin, and most recently Infini.  The “knock” on most of these devices has been:

  • The results are variable – most patients get minimal or no results
  • Multiple treatments (6 or more) are often needed with touch ups with some of the devices

This blog will help the reader understand how RF devices tighten skin, the problem with most RF devices (why they mostly don’t work), and why the Infini by Lutronic is a game changer in this group. Research has shown that heating the dermis to a certain temperature will cause collagen stimulation and contraction.  By heating to 40-45 degrees Celsius, enough heat is created to cause the body to try to repair the area by laying down new collagen.  Higher temperatures, in the 65 degree range, will denature collagen and cause contraction.  Obviously this requires more energy but this equates to more visible results.  Here’s the problem with all cutaneous devices (Exilis, Venus Freeze, Pelleve, Viora Reaction, 3Deep RF, Accent XL, eMatrix, eTwo, TriPolar RF, ReFirme, Sublime):  It is very difficult to heat the dermis to a temperature that is effective and still maintain safe temperatures for the skin surface.  If the surface were to reach the 40-45 degree area, it would burn.  So, these device’s solution has been to try to cool the surface while pumping in energy to the deeper layers.  This becomes a very difficult and unpredictable task.  The devices rely on the tissues to carry the energy to the right level.  Differences in skin thickness, hydration and the composition of collagen and fat can lead to placement of the energy at unknown or variable depths.  If the energy is placed too deep, you can get fat necrosis, as what was occurring with the early Thermage device, and if placed too superficial, the skin can burn or get hyperpigmentation.  Also, if you don’t actually reach the critical temperatures, you will get no stimulation of collagen.  Multiple treatments are the norm for several of these devices because getting collagen stimulation is very difficult with the one treatment.  The bottom line is that

ALL CUTANEOUS RF DEVICES, NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE CALLED, HAVE THE PROBLEM WITH UNPREDICTABLE HEATING OF THE DERMIS AND THEREFORE UNPREDICTABLE OR VERY LITTLE RESULTS.

Skin surface is cooled and RF energy is pumped through the skin surface to heat dermis is UNPREDICTABLE manner

During Thermage, the skin surface is cooled and then RF energy is pumped through the skin surface to heat the dermis in an UNPREDICTABLE manner

Infini vs Other RF Devices

Infini vs Other RF Devices

Ever since Fraxel was approved in 2005, the concept of treating areas fractionally has been the desired treatment modality for most devices.  By treating only a fraction of the tissue, you can have more safety, more comfort, yet still get fairly similar results than treating the entire area.  This concept has been borne out mainly with lasers in the arena of fractional laser resurfacing.  Now comes another “knock” for the majority of RF devices:  Almost all of the devices use a bulk heating method and not a fractional heating, so the risk, downtime, and discomfort are high.  By keeping surrounding tissues untreated (fractionally) as with the Infini, you get faster healing, less pain, and much less risk. So how can we get more predictability with RF?  Penetrate the skin to the level you would like to heat with microneedles and bypass the superficial layer that must stay cool and untreated.  You can heat the deeper tissues to a much higher level with this technique, leading to greater collagen remodeling, collagen contraction, and stimulation.  As a secondary benefit, the actual penetration with microneedles has been shown to mechanically stimulate fibroblasts to produce collagen.

Precise fractional controlled thermal injury of the Infini

Precise fractional controlled thermal injury of the Infini, vs monopolar and bipolar RF, vs ablative laser

There currently are many popular treatments based solely on microneedling (Vampire Microneedling).  By creating an opening in the skin with the needles, topical therapeutics can be applied at the conclusion of the treatment which will get to levels much deeper than when typically applied to the surface of the skin.  These can include:  growth factors (rejuvenation), Vitamin C (for collagen), hydroquinones (for pigment), Retin A (rejuvenation and acne).  Going deeper into the skin allows for some treatment opportunities which haven’t been/or poorly been addressed in the past with RF devices:  Acne treatment (attacking the sebaceous glands), acne or other scarring (particularly darker skin types), and sweating (attacking the sweat glands). There are 3 devices on the market which use this microneedling concept:

  1. Evolastin
  2. Fractora
  3. Infini

Evolastin:  Uses 32g needles in depths which are between 1-2mm.  The needles enter the skin in a tangential manner, so the exact depth is hard to predict.  The energy transmits between paired needles, so the heating in fractional and localized.  The major problem is that the patient requires tumescent anesthesia (infiltrating lidocaine mixed with saline) into the area being treated.  This adds additional time, discomfort, and risk.  Another concern is that this solution actually changes the tissue characteristics, so the treatment becomes less predictable – maybe more or less effective in different areas or maybe safety concerns in certain areas.

Evolastin has tangential needle placement and large caliber needles

Evolastin has tangential needle placement and large caliber needles

Fractora:  Uses needles which have a fixed depth of 1mm.  The energy is transmitted through the needles and circles back to the electrode sitting of the surface of the skin.  The surface probe has a sensor to monitor the skin temperature so as to maintain it within safe parameters.  This is truly NOT fractional because the energy is dispersed in the areas between the needle tips and the skin surface.  Here we go again with unpredictable traveling of the energy through the tissues and bulk heating.  Concerns for safety and discomfort come to mind.

Fractora electrodes are not insulated and treatment is not fractional.

Fractora electrodes are not insulated and treatment is not fractional.

Infini:  Uses needles which are 200 microns (small).  Has variable depth of penetration from 0.5mm to 3.5mm so in the same treatment, several different levels of the dermis can be treated PREDICTABLY.  Also, some parts of the face have different thicknesses of dermis, so the variable depth allows for treatment of the entire face.  A depth of 3.5mm is much deeper than the other 2 needle devices.  The energy is transmitted between the needles which results in true fractional RF ablation in the dermal tissue.  The energy only travels a very small distance so the discomfort is minimized.  (The more distance the energy travels through tissue, the more pain is felt.)  The surface tissue is safe because the needles are at a level that won’t transmit energy to the epidermis.  The treatment time is fairly quick:  full face treatments take about 30 minutes, as do the neck procedures.  For optimal results, it can take 2-3 treatments and full results take the standard 4-6 months to fully achieve (when the collagen remodeling is complete.)

Infini showing the microneedles causing a small precise fractional dermal injury at multiple levels

Infini showing the microneedles causing a small precise fractional dermal injury at multiple levelsinfini_5

The wide spectrum of indications of the Infini are:

  • Improving superficial fine lines and wrinkles of the face, eyes, neck
  • Improving the elasticity of aged and solar damage “thin” skin
  • Treating scars of all types but particularly acne scars.  It has a great advantage over laser for darker skin types.  Infini might turn out to be the “go to” device for scars over the Fraxel Dual 1550 because of deeper treatment levels (3.5mm vs 1.8mm of the Fraxel) and without the pigmentation risks.
  • Tightening loose skin on all parts of the body including:  arms, chest, knees, abdomen.  There are no limitations as to where the skin can treated on the body.
  • Potentially a treatment for acne and hyperhidrosis
  • No exclusion of patients based on skin type with no risk of hyperpigmentation.
  • Downtime is limited to only about 2 days of sunburn like sensation and slight redness

When comparing to the Ulthera, the differences are:

  • Ulthera is more for lifting than for the superficial lines and wrinkles
  • Ulthera is only used on the face and neck at the present time
  • Ulthera is still being evaluated for acne scars
  • Ulthera can be used in conjunction with Infini for even greater tightening and lifting then just Infini or Ulthera alone
  • Ulthera results in 15,000 coagulation points with a treatment, Infini is over 50,000
  • Ulthera depths are below the dermis for the most part where tissue tightening is not very effective.

To summarize, RF skin tightening has over a 10 year history which has been fraught with several different technical hurdles:  unpredictable results, discomfort, and safety concerns.  Using microneedling RF, we can get the energy down to the level needed with more accuracy and more safety.  Infini seems to have the right combination of the transmission of energy through their needle tips as well as having variable depths to be the ideal RF Skin Tightener at the present time.  It also has a broad list of indications including acne scars, skin tightening on the body, and improving the fine lines and wrinkles of facial skin.

Dr. Steve Weiner is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who “laid down his scalpel” in 2005 and concentrates solely on non invasive and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures at The Aesthetic Clinique.  He is one of the first 15 adopters of the Infini in the United States.  His website is http://www.theclinique.net .  Call for a consultation:  850.622.1214

This link is from a European round table discussion about Lutronic Infini and Spectra (both at The Aesthetic Clinique).  Infini discussion starts on page 7.  http://digital.miinews.com/publication/?i=174629

Blog: http://stevenfweinermd.wordpress.com/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/StevenFWeinerFacial

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17 Comments

  1. The before and afters at lutronic.com look amazing. Is it possible to use the Infini for the breast area- for lift?

    • Ulthera is probably a better choice

      • Thank you :)

  2. Kim maddern

    Can you use infini for the under eye area? if so how close to the eye can you go? Do you need to use corneal shields?

    • The under eye area is a great place to do the Infini. I pull the lid down and treat most of the lid. I only treat skin that has underlying bone and don’t use corneal shields. Because of the mechanism of action, whereby the handpiece presses down repeatedly on the skin, I don’t feel comfortable treating the skin overlying the globe itself.

  3. jo

    Hi, I had a cut on my face 3 weeks ago that left a depressed scar. The scar is about 1 cm, the edges feel a little hard and there is some redness left on it. How soon can I do the Infini RF?
    Please advise. Thank you very much.

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  6. Fraxel Dual Question Answered by Dr. Steven Weiner, Destin, Florida. | stevenfweinermd
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  8. Coagulation is Necessary For Maximum Skin Tightening, Science and Experience Prove This – INFINI | stevenfweinermd
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  10. Fractional Coagulation is in, Bulk Heating is out for Skin Tightening | stevenfweinermd

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