Is it safe to have a radiofrequency treatment with an IUD or metal in your body?

I really think it’s terribly confusing for consumers of new beauty services right now.  What to believe??  I’m trying to provide at accurate, thoughtful information ….so thank you for asking this.

For those of you who don’t know, radiofrequency (RF), uses a sound wave instead of light wave to rejuvenate the skin.  On the other hand, lasers use light waves. There are two types of RF systems now in use.  I’ll call them RF 1.0 and RF 2.0.

The main difference between monopolar and bipolar RF:

  • Monopolar requires a grounding pad which is just a sticky pad place somewhere on your body, usually the back.  The sound waves pass between the area treated and the pad.  Any metal in the area may heat up causing a problem.
  • Bipolar systems use energy moved between two poles on the handpiece itself, so there is no grounding pad.

With RF 1.0, the sound waves are applied through the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis.  There is a handpiece that moves across the skin usually by rolling or gently “stamping.”  Examples, of these RF 1.0 systems are Thermage, Exilis, Thermi, or Pelleve.  Ultherapy uses micro-focused ultrasound, and their marketing claims differences, but the effects are virtually the same. There are others, but these are the most commonly used.

With RF 2.0 the sound waves are applied directly into the deeper layer (dermis), bypassing the outer later.  Tiny “pins or needles” are inserted into the dermis with the device. It doesn’t hurt the outer layer because the “pins” are insulated where they pass through the epidermis (outer layer).  These devices are newer and less time tested, but they are much more effective!  Studies for one device show results to be approximately 27%  of a surgical facelift.  Downtime is minimal and there are no scars. These do require injectible numbing.

To answer your question:

  • If your area treated is your face, for example, just make sure the grounding pad is placed on your back. The energy will go between your back and your face, and not toward your uterus.
  • If, for example, you have a metal rod in your neck, you must tell your provider, and you may not be able to do the treatment on your face.
  • Always let your provider/doctor know about any metal implants in your body, so they can be put in your medical record at the clinic.  This includes joints, supporting rods, plates in the skull, etc.
  • This usually does not include fillings. There have been no problems reported (that I know of) probably because pure metals are generally not used in the mouth anymore. If you have a gold filling, be sure to disclose that.
  • Bipolar systems are only a problem if you are treating right over the metal.  Again be sure to tell your doctor about any metal in your body.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!


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