It has often been said that the best way to come up with a new good idea is to take two old good ideas and put them together.
Well this is basically what the developers of INTRAcel have done. To give it its full name Radio-frequency micro needling. Sorry for the name its the best we can come up with. Hence my title of INTRAcel.
In the spirit of openness let me also declare that INTRAcel is only one of many radio-frequency micro needling machines. It is the one I prefer and offer to my patients but I suspect that they all do a pretty good job.
So what job do they do exactly? Well first lets look at the progenitors. Radio-frequency micro needling really is exactly what it says on the tin. We have been using radio-frequency energy surgically for many years and it works primarily on the basis that passing this energy through the skin creates a degree of heating. The amount of heating created is dependent on the amount of energy used and the resistance of the tissues involved. More recently many manufacturers have tried to use the heating effect to stimulate collagen production and achieve a degree of skin tightening. Unfortunately most have proved limited in effect due to the risk of causing burns when heating the skin. The more heat produced the more tightening but the bigger risk of burns.
Until very recently the only manufacturer that successfully squared this circle was Solta Medical with the Thermage device. This uses a very clever disposable head which controlled the degree of heating whilst cooling the very top layers of skin. This allowed them to heat the skin more vigorously whilst still protecting the epidermis from superficial burns.
So that’s the radio-frequency bit, what about the micro needling? We have also know for a long time that minor degrees of trauma to the skin stimulate wound repair and improvements to the skin surface. This has been typified in the production of the dermaroller which uses a small roller covered in super sharp needles to make multiple puncture wounds in the skin. This can stimulate significant improvement in skin tone, colour and texture and has been used successfully for several years.
So what was the big breakthrough? Well they decided to simplify the technology a great deal and in order to protect the surface of the skin they would pass needles deep into the tissues and create the heat between the needle points thus sparing the superficial layer. So they simultaneously heat the skin at a deeper level whilst performing the needling. This simpler technology is also significantly cheaper and so the cost of the treatment can be reduced and therefore make in accessible to a larger group of potential patients.
So does it work?
Well yes it does very well. It also seems to produce visible results quicker than the previous generation technology and that also helps encourage patients to continue with the treatments. So a great idea all round.