Safety and efficacy of fractional radiofrequency for the treatment and reduction of acne scarring: A prospective study

Stephen W. Eubanks, James A. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Skin rejuvenation with radiofrequency has been a widely used treatment modality for the safe and efficient remodeling of the dermis and revision of textural irregularities, achieved with minimal downtime. The efficacy of fractional radiofrequency (FRF) specifically for acne scarring has not been widely established. The objective of this clinical trial was to establish the efficacy and safety of FRF for moderate to severe acne scarring in a wide range of Fitzpatrick skin types using two different applicator tips to deliver energy to the skin (80-pin of up to 124 mJ/pin and 160-pin of up to 62 mJ/pin). Methods: Enrolled subjects received a series of three FRF treatments to the full face, each 4 weeks apart. A visual analog scale was utilized to assess pain of the treatment. Subject satisfaction questionnaires were completed at follow-up visits at 6 and 12 weeks post final treatment. Photographs were graded for change by three blinded evaluators using the Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale (GAIS). Results: Image sets of 23 enrolled subjects were assessed by blinded evaluation, showing a statistically significant improvement (p = 0.009) from the baseline visit to the 12-week follow-up on the GAIS for acne scarring. Subject satisfaction was high with subjects giving an average satisfaction score of 3.27 (“satisfied”) out of 4. Pain was “mild” as treatments were rated an average of 2.15 on a 10-point visual analog scale. The GAIS score of the 80-pin tip improved patients' acne scars treated with that applicator by 1.06 points and 0.85 for the 160-pin tip. Ninety-five percent (95.5%) of subjects reported either a mild, moderate, or significant improvement to their treatment area. Ninety-one percent of subjects reported that they would recommend the treatment to a friend. Conclusion: FRF produced a statistically significant improvement in acne scarring when assessed by independent blinded evaluators. No serious adverse events resulted from treatment by either applicator tip. Treatment pain was low and tolerable among subjects of all Fitzpatrick skin types. Subjects had high levels of satisfaction with the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • acne scars
  • acne vulgaris
  • fractional radiofrequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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