Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2012, 2, 144-150 Published Online September 2012 (
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian
and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for Deep
Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
R. Stephen Mulholland1*, D. H. Ahn2, Michael Kreindel3, Malcolm Paul4
1Private Plastic Surgery Practice, Toronto, Canada; 2Daeyoung Plastic Surgery Practice, Seoul, South Korea; 3Invasix Ltd., Toronto,
Canada; 4Department of Surgery, Aesthetic and Plastic Institute, University of California, Irvine, California.
Email: *
Received May 9th, 2012; revised June 13th, 2012; accepted June 28th, 2012
This paper reports the clinical experience of a multi-center, multiple physician trial with a novel fractional radiofre-
quency ablative skin resurfacing and rejuvenation device (Fractora, Invasix, Israel) deployed on both Caucasian skin
types I - III and Asian skin type IV. Histological study demonstrated deep ablation and collagen restructuring in the
papillary and reticular dermis. The Fractora device combines the more “cone shaped” ablation seen with CO2 and Er-
bium lasers with a deep non-ablative heating pattern, seen with other bipolar RF fractional needle resurfacing devices.
Ablation, coagulation zones and healing dynamics are analyzed for different energy settings. Two different treatment
protocols are suggested: one for light skin and then one for darker skin with a higher risk of post-inflammatory hypper-
pigmentation. Treatment results show improvement in skin texture, pores, wrinkles and skin dyschromia.
Keywords: Skin Resurfacing; Skin Rejuvenation; Fractional Treatment
1. Introduction
Since its inception in the 1990’s, carbon dioxide (CO2)
laser resurfacing has enjoyed the distinction of being the
gold standard in the treatment of rhytides, texture con-
cerns, acne scars and photo-damage skin. Numerous peer
reviewed articles documenting its excellent long-term
skin resurfacing results have been reported [1-8]. One of
the unique characteristics of the CO2 laser is that it cre-
ates almost equal degrees of ablation, coagulation and re-
sidual sub-necrotic thermal zones in the skin with vol-
umes of 50 - 100 microns [3]. Although full surface CO2
laser ablation provides some highly regarded results in
the treatment of wrinkles, acne scars and photo-damage,
it also presents some disadvantages. These problems in-
clude a long recovery period, prolonged erythema, un-
certain wound healing characteristics derived from the
re-epithelialization process, post-inflammatory hyperpig-
mentation in darker skin types, and long-term hypopig-
mentation in the majority of patients [9-12].
In response to the disadvantages of ablative CO2 and
Erbium YAG lasers, the era of non-ablative near-infrared
wavelength lasers and radiofrequency devices arose for
sub-necrotic tissue heating inducing collagen remodeling
[13,14]. All of these non-ablative technologies worked
through targeting the relatively thick dermal layer of skin,
sometimes in combination with external cooling, to pre-
serve the epidermal skin surface from damage and create
significant heating in the sub-dermal space. With the cor-
rect parameters and wavelengths, the temperature in the
dermis can be very close to necrotic levels, inducing col-
lagen remodeling and delivering modest results for skin
tightening and wrinkle reduction. With the “non-abla-
tive” approach to skin enhancement, multiple treatments
were usually required and results were generally less
dramatic than ablative therapies. Clinical data suggests
that RF based devices provide stronger tightening effect
[15-18], through the ability to penetrate more deeply into
the sub-dermal space, while laser penetration depth is
limited by the dermis.
Fractional skin resurfacing with non-ablative near in-
frared laser wavelengths were introduced in 2004, in an
effort to deliver high non-ablative columns of energy into
the dermis, creating micro-coagulation zones and colla-
gen remodeling, but leaving a significant portion of the
adjacent skin untreated to act as a healing reservoir of
cells for the non-ablative micro-coagulation zones [19].
The first of the fractional devices were in the near-to mid-
infrared wavelengths range including 1550 nm Erbium
lasers, 1320 nm and 1440 nm wavelengths Nd: YAG la-
*Corresponding author.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for
Deep Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
sers [19-21].
In order to produce more significant results than could
be achieved with fractional non-ablative coagulative de-
vices, the ablative technologies, like CO2, used a frac-
tionated approach to create ablation columns with depth
up to 2 mm. These fractional ablative lasers provided the
outcome advantages of ablative technique, but with im-
proved recovery and minor risk of side effects. Fractional
CO2 and other fractionally ablative wavelengths have
shown excellent improvements in wrinkles, photo-aging
and acne scars [22-27]. With the advent of ablative frac-
tional CO2, Thulium and Erbium ablative lasers, dramatic
improvement in skin discoloration, texture, wrinkles and
acne scars with short downtime and low rate of side ef-
fects can be achieved in a single treatment with only seve-
ral days of recovery time or no downtime and multiple
lower fluence treatments.
More recently, alternative ablative technology was in-
troduced that fractionates radiofrequency (RF) energy for
skin resurfacing. It creates a low density fractional epi-
dermal and superficial dermal coagulation under the con-
ductive pins and delivers RF travelling through the reti-
cular dermis combining a low density ablative effect in
the epidermis with sub-necrotic heating in deeper layers
of the skin [28]. This fractional RF approach, with rela-
tively low impact epidermal-junctional effect and deep
dermal effect, has been coined fractional “sublative re-
surfacing”. This relatively comfortable treatment demon-
strates improvement in lines, acne scars and pigmenta-
tion after multiple treatment sessions. The technology
compromises with treatment efficiency in comparison to
deep ablative fractional lasers, but due to deeper collagen
remodeling delivers consistent results after a number of
non-aggressive treatment sessions and is particularly good
for tissue tightening and some results in acne scar treat-
This paper reviews the results of using a new frac-
tional RF ablative technology, Fractora (Invasix Ltd.), on
Caucasian skin types I - III and Asian skin type IV. Frac-
tora introduces RF energy to the reticular dermis through
ablative craters that reproduce the ablative effects of a
fractional CO2 laser and an expanded zone of sub-necro-
tic dermal heating seen with the non-ablative lasers and
RF devices. The Fractora combines in one treatment the
histological and clinical benefits of epidermal-dermal do-
minant ablative “cone” type laser resurfacing with the
pyramidal shape sublative dermal effect seen with other
fractional RF systems. The combined effect of the new
technology does not appear to be limited only to skin
tightening, wrinkles and acne scar improvement, but ini-
tial work appears to provide a synchronous fractional RF
improvement in melanin pigmentation, facial telangiec-
tasia, and active acne. The fractional RF device described
in this article may also serve to deliver ablative and reju-
venative outcomes in more difficult dyschromia prone
skin type IV patients.
2. Materials and Methods
The Fractora hand piece used in this study is powered by
the BodyTite platform (Invasix, Israel). The Fractora hand
pieces come in an array of sharp RF conductive needles.
Each needle is 600 µ long and 100 µ wide. There is a 60
pin tip array that provides 10% surface coverage and a 20
pin tip for the lower lid, upper lid, lip lines and vascular
lesions. RF energy per pin and repetition rate is set on the
interface prior to treatment. Energy per pin was varied
depending on the skin type and thickness. For light skin
types I - III and thick skin 50 - 62 mJ/pin was applied,
while for darker skin type IV patients and thinner skin 10 -
40 mJ/pin was used.
With the Fractora electrode geometry (Figure 1), in
addition to the typical “cone shaped” ablative injury seen
with CO2, Fractora pins also acts as an array of multiple
bipolar electrodes and each sends RF energy through the
whole thickness of the papillary and reticular dermis,
from the tip of the ablative pin effects to the side flat rail
electrodes. This non-ablative, non-specific dermal matrix
heating adds a very significant potential of additional
skin tightening, that one does not receive with traditional
laser fractional ablative treatment. The resulting “double
injury” of this device is combination of a “cone shaped”
superficial epdiermal-dermal ablation seen with CO2, com-
bined with a dense woven matrix of deep dermal heating
in a pyramidal distribution (Figure 1).
20 Caucasian (skin types I and II) and 30 Asian pa-
tients (skin types III and IV) with an age range of 21 - 70
years old, received a single full face, ablative fractional
radiofrequency treatment using the Fractora hand piece.
All patients were observed 3 and 6 months following
treatment. For pain control some Caucasian patients
treated with high parameters (40 - 60 mJ/pin) underwent
Side Electrode Electrode Pins Side Electrode
Figure 1. Schematic distribution between pins and side elec-
trodes. The Fractora pins create a “CO2 like injury” with a
zone of vaporization (ablation), zone of irreversible coagu-
lation (red) and zone of non-specific thermal stimulation
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for
Deep Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
subcutaneous hypodermal tumescent infiltrative anesthesia
with a mixture of 1 bottle of 1% lidocaine mixed in 500
ml of Ringers lactate and 1 ml of epinephrine 1:1000.
Approximately 150 cc of infiltrate was used in the hypo-
dermal space of the brow, cheek and lower face and an-
other 100 cc if the neck was treated. Prior the tumescent
hypodermal infiltrative anesthesia, supra-orbital, infra-
orbital, zygomatical facial, temporal, and mental nerve
blocks were performed with 10 cc of 1% xylocaine. At
medium settings (30 - 40 mJ/pin) nerve blocks, topical
anesthesia and a Zimmer cold air cooler were used, while
at low energy settings (10 - 30 mJ/pin) pretreatment was
performed with a topical analgesia and a Zimmer air
cooler, or no anesthesia at all.
A single pass, ablative fractional RF treatment was
applied using the 60 pin Fractora hand piece. For those
regions with deeper rhytides, such as the upper lips,
lower lids or acne scars, a second pass was delivered for
patients with lighter skin. Smaller areas such as the lower
lid, upper lid and the area around the nose, was treated
with the 20 pin tip.
RF energy settings used for Asian and Caucasian pa-
tients differed significantly. For Caucasian patients, the
energy per pin was varied depending on skin type and
thickness. For light and thick skin types I - III patients,
50 - 62 mJ/pin was applied, while for darker skin type IV
and thinner skin patients, 30 - 40 mJ/pin was used. In
most cases a single treatment was effective enough at high
energy settings to achieve the treatment objectives.
For Asian patients the energy per pin was varied in the
range of 10 - 20 mJ/pin at the first treatment and was gra-
dually increased up to 30 - 40 mJ/pin over the next 3 treat-
ments, performed once a month intervals. It was discov-
ered that after several treatments the skin tone of skin
type IV patients became lighter and more uniform, al-
lowing for the application of higher energies at subse-
quent treatments. For lighter skin tones and younger pa-
tients, higher energy was used, while more conservative
parameters were selected for darker and older patients.
Antibiotic ointment was applied immediately after the
office based treatment. At home, Aquaphor was used to
keep the skin moist and until the fractional injury had
healed over (usually at 2 - 5 days) at which camouflage
make-up could be applied. Standard Herpes Simplex pro-
phylaxis consisting of 500 mg of Valtrex orally twice dai-
ly for 7 days was used. Standard photographs were taken
prior to the treatment and at the 6-month follow up ap-
pointments. Patients were advised to take a few days off
following the treatment.
Following the treatment and depending upon the pa-
rameters, intense edema and erythema were observed and
lasted for several hours and up to 1 week, with a minor
degree of edema being observed for up to 2 weeks. Small
crusted dots, representing the ablated epidermal-dermal
tissue at the opening of the ablative crater, appeared the
next day following the treatment and were observed up to
1 - 2 weeks after the procedure before flaking off.
Histological samples were taken immediately after treat-
ment and at 1 week, 2 and 6 weeks post treatment to ana-
lyze character of fractional lesions and the wound heal-
ing process. Samples stained with hematoxylin and eosin
show classic signs of fractional carbon dioxide ablative
coagulated tissue (a), phagocytosis and healing (b) and
collagen remodeling (c). Because different groups of pa-
tients are required for different treatment parameters, the
histological study consists of 3 energy settings: 10 mJ/pin,
30 mJ/pin and 60 mJ/pin.
Histology images shown in Figure 2 presents treatment
results and healing process after the Fractora fractional
ablative RF treatment with energy settings of 60 mJ/pin.
Histology of this treatment demonstrated a typical, strong,
“cone shaped” epidermal-dermal dominant ablation ef-
fect as shown in Figure 2(a). The ablation crater depth is
about 500 - 600 µ in depth, going through the epidermis,
the papillary dermis to the mid- and deep reticular dermis.
The architecture and shape of the zone of ablation is a
typical “cone shaped” lesion (smaller at the base), also
seen with CO2 ablative lasers. The zone of coagulation
measures 60 - 100 µ surrounding ablation crater (Figure
Figure 2(b) shows phagocytosis in the healing crater
(zone of ablation) at 1 week follow-up. Figure 2(c)
shows the treated zone structure at 6 weeks post treat-
ment. The phagocytosis is mostly completed and initia-
tion of new collagen formed in the healed crater and
At medium energy settings the ablation crater is more
shallow, reaching 300 - 400 µ in depth (Figure 3(a)).
When using lower energy the ablation crater ablative
depth is approximately 200 - 250 µ (Figure 4(a)). Simi-
larly, phagocytosis is less active when using lower en-
ergy settings (Figure 3(b)) and is completed after one
week when using minimal (Figure 4(b)), indicating
much faster healing. Collagen remodeling is observed
even at minimal energy (Figure 4(c)), but it is more su-
Highest energy histologies taken 1 week following treat-
ment is presented in Figure 5. The histology shows the
skin with multiple fractional zones and collagen con-
traction and remodeling in the deep dermal space be-
tween the craters, supporting the effect of RF sub-necro-
tic heating through the entire dermal matrix, from the RF
current that flows from the ablative pins to the side rail
electrodes. This pyramidal zone of sub-necrotic collagen
tightening and remodeling is reflective of the “sublative
effects” seen with other fracional RF pin technologies t
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for
Deep Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Figure 2. Zone treated with 60 mJ/pin immediately after the treatment (a), 1 week after the treatment (b) and 2 weeks fol-
lowing the procedure (c).
Figure 3. Histological images of a zone treated with 30 mJ/pin showing results immediately after the treatment (a), 1 week
after the treatment (b) and 2 weeks following the procedure (c).
Figure 4. Images capture of a zone treated with 10 mJ/pin immediately after the treatment (a), 1 week after the treatment (b)
and 2 weeks following the procedure (c).
[28]. Fractora is unique in that it combines the strong
epidermal “cone shaped” ablation of carbon dioxide with
the deep non-ablative tightening, or “sublative” effects
seen with fractional RF devices that have a relatively low
epidermal impact.
Treatment results and before and after photographs of
each patients individual improvement were analyzed and
scored using software driven photographic analogue
scoring devices for the following clinical concerns:
Tightening of lax skin;
Improvement in wrinkles and lines;
Skin texture improvement;
Reduction in pore size;
Improvement in pigmented lesions and skin tone;
Reduction in facial telangiectasia;
Figure 5. Histology of skin treated with 60 mJ/pin at 1 week
after the treatment showing collagen restructuring in the
space between the two healing craters.
Acne scar improvement.
From 50 patients’ satisfaction survey we had 1 patient
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for
Deep Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
non-satisfied with treatment results, 10 patients mildly
satisfied, 14 patients satisfied, 18 patients happy with
results and 7 patients extremely happy.
Figure 6 shows a female patient before and 4 months
after a full-face Fractora treatment. The Fractora treat-
ment was delivered at 60 mJ/pin and the before and after
photographs demonstrate skin tightening, peri-oral wrin-
kle reduction and an overall improvement of skin quality.
Figure 7 shows a Caucasian patient before and 6 months
after a full-face Fractora treatment. The energy delivery
was 60 mJ/pin and the treatment demonstrated a signifi-
cant reduction of pigmented lesions (comparable with an
IPL treatment), reduction of peri-oral lines and signifi-
cant improvement of skin quality. Figure 8 shows a male
patient before and immediately after Fractora treatment
on vascular lesions. Figure 9 illustrates an Asian 50 years
old male with skin type IV before the treatment and 3
months following the last treatment. The patient received
2 treatments with a gradual energy increase from 10 mJ/
pin at the first treatment up to 25 mJ/pin at the second
treatment. Improvement of peri-orbital lines, skin texture
and skin tightening was indicated 3 months following the
last treatment. Figure 10 shows a 28 years old skin type
IV Asian patient with acne scars before the treatment and
3 months following the last treatment. The patient re-
ceived 4 treatments where energy was gradually in-
creased from 30 mJ/pin up to 45 mJ/pin.
The Visia system (Canfield Inc.) and Korean analog
Aramo TS skin diagnostic device (Aram Huvis Co. Ltd.)
were used for quantitative analysis of treatment results.
Figure 6. Caucasian female patient before and 4 months
after a single full face Fractora treatment.
Figure 7. Female patient before and 6 months after a single
full face Fractora treatment.
Figure 8. Caucasian patient with vascular lesions (left) and
immediate improvements after treatment (right).
Figure 9. Asian male patient with aged skin before (left) and
3 months after the treatment (right).
Figure 10. A 28-year-old Asian male before (left) and 3 months
after the last treatment (right).
The results are presented in Table 1.
3. Conclusions
This study confirms the efficacy and safety of a novel RF
fractional ablative device. The histological results con-
firm the compatibility of Fractora treatment outcomes
and many of the clinical skin enhancement that are seen
with fractional CO2 resurfacing. The Fractora has the ad-
ditional benefits of a strong, bipolar RF non-ablative, non-
coagulative dermal matrix stimulation not seen with ab-
lative lasers. Fractora also reduces superficial and mid-
dermal melanin pigmentation. We also documented a re-
duction of facial telangiectasia in Caucasian patients, how-
ever future studies are recommended on a higher number
of patients to fully assess the vascular reduction and pa-
ameters required. The review of patients 3 - 6 months r
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Fractional Ablative Radio-Frequency Resurfacing in Asian and Caucasian Skin: A Novel Method for
Deep Radiofrequency Fractional Skin Rejuvenation
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JCDSA
Table 1. Visia and Aramo TS skin diagnostic measured improvements in light and dark skin type patients.
Indication Average Improvement Asian Skin (skin types III and IV)Average Improvement Caucasian Skin (skin types I and II)
Texture 70% 67%
Pores 40% 22%
Wrinkles and lines 45% 63%
Acne scars 40% 40%
Pigmentation 30% 60%
following treatment confirms that the Fractora delivers
significant improvements in wrinkles, laxity, brown pig-
mentation, skin tightening and acne scars.
The safety profile was excellent with no significant ad-
verse events. Patients with skin type IV appear as suit-
able candidates for treatment using the graduated low
fluence parameters set out in this paper without an exces-
sive risk of post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation (PIH)
or hypo-pigmentation when receiving gradual energy in-
crease over the series of treatment sessions or accompa-
nied with melanocyte suppression management regimen
prior and post treatment.
Fractional ablative RF treatment with a deep needle
based delivery system is a novel and unique fractional,
ablative technology that provides a total skin rejuvena-
tion solution:
1) Stimulates and produces the wrinkle reduction and
skin tightening seen with ablative fractional CO2 resur-
2) Provides additional non-ablative, bipolar dermal ma-
trix thermal stimulation which provides additional skin
tightening similar to non-ablative RF devices;
3) Improves pigmented lesions and dyschromia similar
to intense pulsed light;
4) Potentially improves superficial vascular lesions (ad-
ditional study with higher statistics is required to deter-
mine consistency).
All patients re-epithelialized within 4 - 7 days. There
were no cases or instances of delayed healing, no signi-
ficant adverse reactions and specifically, no hypo-pig-
mentation, PIH and no hypertrophic/hypotrophic scars.
The fractional RF multi-needle technology appears to
be a suitable for facial treatment of both Caucasian and
Asian patients.
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