There are two types of Radio Frequency delivery, based on the layout of the electrodes: monopolar RF and bipolar RF. If one active electrode is used for the treatment, we have monopolar RF. If two active electrodes are used, we have bipolar RF.
What is monopolar RF?
With monopolar RF, the current flows through the body from a single electrode and meets maximum resistance in the area around the tip of the handpiece, where tissue heating in the sub-dermal layers then occurs. A grounding pad is attached to the client’s lower back or abdomen to provide a low resistance path for the current to flow back to the machine and complete the electrical circuit.
As the positive and negative poles are located quite far apart, the current has no other choice but to transverse through all skin layers. This means that with monopolar RF, we can treat not only the skin surface (epidermis) but also the middle skin layer (dermis), the deepest skin layer (hypodermis/sub-dermis), and even the subcutaneous fat deposits below the skin itself.
What is bipolar RF?
With bipolar RF, the current from the generating machine flows through the tissue between the two electrodes on the handpiece. These electrodes start and complete the electrical circuit. Hence, with bipolar RF delivery, no current flows through the rest of the body, so no grounding or return pad is needed.
Because the poles are close to each other, the current has no choice but to superficially penetrate the skin (as little as 1mm).
In all Radio Frequency skin tightening delivery types, it is the resistance to the current flow in the tissue, not the electrode that generates the heating effect.
Machines with both monopolar and bipolar RF
If your machine has both monopolar and bipolar RF, my advice is just to use monopolar RF. Focus on it, train on it and use it well. It will be much better than any bipolar arrangement, even if you wish to offer very superficial treatment, as in acne treatment.
Would you like to learn more about monopolar RF? You can learn how to use this technology to help clients with non-surgical facelifts, cellulite, fat reduction, and skin tightening. Contact The Body Sculpting Institute and speak with one of our friendly consultants about our online Radio Frequency (RF) Skin Tightening Certification.