The 'low-down' on Radio Wave Surgery

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What is Radio Wave Surgery?

Radio Wave Surgery (Radiofrequency or Radiosurgery) is an alternative to laser surgery or manual surgery with a scalpel, and research has shown it is just as effective as manual incision and more effective than laser incision. Radio Wave surgery uses a high frequency alternating current that can be delivered through a variety of applicators as appropriate, including a blade or needle. Water in the cells provides the resistance and vaporises, which arrests the blood flow and simultaneously cuts and coagulate the tissue without applying pressure or causing burning. This means that the procedures are quicker and safer than electrosurgery, with minimal bleeding and a quick recovery time.

Radiosurgery is used in dermatology and cosmetic surgery as a procedure to remove skin tags and lesions such as moles and warts, and also to remove benign tumours in sweat glands and hair follicles and telangectasias (thread veins). It’s also used to resurface and reduce scars, and used instead of laser surgery or scalpel incisions in some facelift and other cosmetic surgery procedures.
What is involved in Radio Wave Surgery?

During radiosurgery, a plastic coated ground plate is usually placed under the patient and the surgeon holds the electrode, which can be in the form of a loop, scalpel blade or needle as appropriate for the treatment. This electrode is connected to the radiosurgery unit which emits the high frequency radio wave.

Most simple skin lesion procedures take less than 20 minutes using radio wave surgery and are performed under local anaesthetic. Energy concentrated at the electrode device heats and vaporises the target cells and cuts or shaves the tissue.

What are the risks of Radio Wave Surgery?

There is a minimal risk of minor electric shocks and burns but if the procedure is carried out correctly this should not happen. There is also a small risk of infection.

Patients who are pregnant or have a pacemaker are not suitable for radio surgery.

How long will it take me to recover from Radio Wave Surgery?

After your radio wave surgery you should expect some mild tenderness, swelling and bruising in the area, as well as some redness. These side effects should subside quickly over the next few days. Because the tissue is coagulated in radio wave surgery, you shouldn’t experience any bleeding and no stitches should be required. You should be able to resume your normal activities immediately after your radio wave surgery procedure. Depending on the size and depth of the wound, you can expect it to heal within 1-4 weeks.

What is the cost of Radio Wave Surgery?

Although radio surgery is sometimes available on the NHS, it is not offered for cosmetic reasons alone and there would need to be a health risk associated with the condition you are having treated; however congenital abnormalities and injuries are usually treated free of charge.

Private prices for radio surgery depend upon condition being treated and the size of the treatment, and start at around £100 for the removal of minor skin lesions.

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