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Apollo TriPollar radio frequency skin tightening treatment

Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
May 15, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 13 Comments
Supposedly, we are now in the third age of radio frequency treatments. First generation treatments, Thermage being the best known and notorious for being as ineffective as it was painful, gave way to newer technologies such as Ulthera and Pellevé. But even they have been trumped by Apollo TriPollar, the newest and most advanced generation of radio frequency, according to the Israeli company that makes it. A week and a half ago, I put it to the test with a free TriPollar treatment at the Madison Avenue offices of Dr Jame Heskett.

Before I relate my experience, I want to explain how radio frequency technology has advanced. The early RF machines use one electrode to deliver electrical energy with a return pad connected to the leg or back to close the circuit. The electric current has to pass through a large part of the body and the vascular system. This means that the technician has little control and very high – think very painful – temperatures are necessary. Burning or damaged skin has to be mitigated with cooling treatments.  The next generation bi-polar technology uses two electrodes, with the current flowing between the two. This allows more focused frequencies.

TriPollar has, as you might by now have guessed, three paths. And I was promised a painless, even pleasant experience with the temperature capped at 41 degrees. Although I can’t say my TriPollar treatment was ever painful, I did find it uncomfortable at times and at least twice during my 30 minute session I found my eyes watering. But then I am a bit of wimp. There is certainly no down time and I headed straight to the office with nothing more than a very flushed face.

As I understand it, radio frequency works by delivering gradual energy to the skin, causing heat to build up where the skin and fat layer come together. The increasing heat modifies the collagen bundles deep inside the skin. Proteins lose structure (collagen is a chain of proteins) due to, amongst other things, the application of heat. The denaturation of collagen fibers causes them to contract and, because they believe they are undergoing a trauma, they start stimulating the growth of new collagen, This results in firmer, tighter skin.

My skin did look and feel a little firmer immediately after my TriPollar treatment and markedly so a couple of days later. After three days, I did a couple of double takes when I saw myself in the mirror and began to think I might go back on my own dime. Ten days later, the results seem to have faded away. Now, at this point I should say that the protocol is to have five or six once a week treatments followed by another in six months. Thereafter twice a year should do it.  The reason for the weekly sessions is to encourage the body to become habituated to producing collagen. As Dr Heskett nicely put it, as we get older our bodies aren’t terribly concerned by our wrinkles and put their energy into ensuring our vital organs are functioning. The way things are looking, mine is busy with my liver rather than my complexion.

About a year ago, I had two Pelleve treatments. They were less uncomfortable than TriPollar, each session was more expensive but it wasn’t required to have them weekly – just two spaced a month apart. The short-term effects were very good but I’m not convinced that they really lasted beyond a few months.

At $300-$500 per session (depending on location; the upper end can be expected in New York), TriPollar is a financial commitment. Is it worth it? If you can afford it, then I believe that TriPollar will give results. I share with Dr Heskett a preference for procedures that cause a physiological change, as opposed to Botox or fillers.  That being said, I am still in two minds about whether I want to give my skin a trauma, even if, compared to the first generation treatments, it is a relatively mild one. But if financially and philosophically you are up for it, TriPollar is worth trying out for tightening sagging skin.
  • November 24, 2016


    Can an aestethician use the Tripollar machine or it has to be done by a doctor?

  • January 17, 2015

    by corene

    I just had a tripolar RF mesotherapy session yesterday and the skin around my mouth is sagging even more! It's had the opposite effect than I was hoping for. I researched quite a bit beforehand and didn't find any mention of this. I'm relieved to see here that someone else has had the same experience. I am thin, so I don't have excess fat on my face. I hope that the damage can be healed. I just can't believe that there is so little about the "aging" effect that tripolar RF can have.

  • August 6, 2014

    by JLA

    Hello There, I want to buy the Apollo. Do you need a Doctor on site? Can a Esthetician run this machine, in California.

  • March 15, 2014

    by Hed

    Hi I want to buy the Apollo tripollar can u tell me the price pls

  • February 24, 2014

    by maria

    hi Marta -- on the other post where I talk about my experience with Radio Frequency (which should've been IPL, per the Dermatologist), you gave me some links. On one of those sites, there are hundreds of people reporting the same exact types of damage from RF, and they are devastated by the loss of fat, etc... I just want to warn your readers that this is a dangerous thing to do to your skin. It is Microwaving............aagh. Anyway, I'm glad you didn't have such a bad experience but many many people have been damaged by RF. I am 15 months out and I'm still hoping I will heal. I'm thinking maybe some of the fat on my cheeks has re-filled, but the eye area will never be the same. It may seem like I"m dwelling but It's a hard thing to get over. I'm like you and have taken pleasure in taking great care of my skin for years now. Best, Maria

  • February 21, 2014

    by Maria

    Katy: was your damage due to Radiofrequency session? In response to Marta's response to my bad experience with what was called IPL but was a SYNERON apparatus that had a Radiowave "head" apparently so it could be adjusted either way. I'm still not sure which treatment caused the worst damage. Marta it doesn't sound like you notice any damage that wasn't intended to your collagen/ elastin. I definitely did, after the 2nd session, one month after the first. I also have slackening around mouth and jawline as well as grooves around eyes that were not there before, similar to Katy. As Marta knows I also have experienced a change in texture: I used to have zero pore visibility. Now pores are much more dilated, skin is drier(from effects to shutting off sebum from pores) and a loss of glow ( from zapping capillaries?) okay and also a pallor from shutting down melanocytes. Sorry for the downer report !!! All is not lost: good care helps a lot so my face is still in better shape than others my age because of the years of sunscreen, retinol etc! For MARTA: I would just like to know if you know anything about the SYNERON machine? Thank you

  • October 21, 2013

    by Dolly

    I want to buy the radio frequency tripollar can you please send me some information.
    Thank you Dolly

  • September 28, 2013

    by Claire

    I've had several Apollo Tri-Pollar RF treatments at almost 43º C. and had no discomfort. It was like a warm massage. I've lost much of the jowls and turkey neck that come with age and am now having treatments on the abs. I spoke to a woman who claims to have lost 8 inches from her waistline.
    I've also been watching diet and putting more effort into exercise. But for a little extra encouragement, prefer a treatment that's non-invasive.
    If you're between NYC and DC, look for Eden Medical Spa at 600 DeKalb Pike, Suite 201, King of Prussia PA 19406, Telephone 484-681-9753.
    My first treatment was complimentary. And they take before and after pics.

  • February 27, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Kaity, sorry to hear about all of this. It sounds very unpleasant. I think this TriPollar treatment is a bit too extreme - it gets pretty warm during the treatment and it could be a little painful when you are in such a sensitive condition. I think that a more gentle salon treatment of ultrasound or LED might help and there are also at home devices using these technologies that many of us find give good results for firming. I wouldn't do anything without getting a medical opinion though.

  • February 27, 2013

    by Kaity

    Hi Marta, I'm 27 years old and have had the misfortune to experience a mysterious swelling in my cheeks that, so far, has lasted for 6 months with no sign of abatement. I have been checked out by many different specialists, including a dentist, and the only thing they could find that was wrong with me was that I needed two root canals. I just had the second one yesterday. My face is still very swollen, and I've seen the elasticity of the skin around my mouth slacken dramatically since this began. I now have fine lines and webbed patterns of sagging skin where six months ago everything was firm and smooth. Can you recommend any kind of tightening treatment that might actually help me, once the swelling begins to go down?

    Thank you so much,
    - Kaity -

  • February 15, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Lillian, as mentioned in the post the treatment is available at the New York office of Dr Jame Heskett.

  • February 13, 2013

    by Lillian

    I would like to know we're there is an office in New York City for this treatment.

  • February 12, 2013

    by Tammi Wright

    Interested in having TriPollar Apollo done somewhere possibly near New Mexico if you could send any info I would greatly appreciate it :)

    Thank you,

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