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Radiofrequency Therapy and Noncosmetic Cutaneous Conditions

Ekelem, Chloe MD, MPH*; Thomas, Logan MD*; Van Hal, Michele MD*; Valdebran, Manuel MD*; Lotfizadeh, Ali MD, MPH; Mlynek, Karolina MD, MBA; Mesinkovska, Natasha Atanaskova MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000001925
Review Article

BACKGROUND The need for noninvasive methods in treatment of cutaneous disease has continued to evolve exponentially. Amidst the search for technologies, radiofrequency (RF) has proven efficacious in numerous skin disease processes. Although RF is well known for its cosmetic utility, its mechanism is valued in the treatment of many noncosmetic cutaneous conditions of various etiologies.

OBJECTIVE To identify and describe studies in which RF was used to treat noncosmetic skin conditions and to explore the potential of this modality for further application in dermatologic diseases.

MATERIALS AND METHODS The PubMed database was used to find relevant articles.

RESULTS This search strategy yielded 54 articles that met the eligibility criteria. Noncosmetic indications discussed in these articles include varicose veins (n = 10,550), lymphangioma circumscriptum (n = 72), cutaneous neoplasms (n = 42), cutaneous leishmaniasis (n = 743), acne and acne scarring (n = 158), non–acne scarring (n = 43), primary axillary hyperhidrosis (n = 76), and acute and chronic wounds (n = 94).

CONCLUSION Treatment with RF is an effective, generally noninvasive modality with a relatively short postprocedure recovery time and little potential for severe adverse effects in the treatment of several cutaneous conditions. Further clinical studies would prove useful to assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of this treatment.

*Department of Dermatology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California;

Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California;

Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Natasha Atanaskova Mesinkovska, MD, PhD, Department of Dermatology, Dermatology Clinical Research Center, University of California, Irvine, 843 Health Sciences Road, Hewitt Hall 1001, Irvine, CA 92697, or e-mail:

The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

© 2019 by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Inc. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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