Heat Therapy

Thermotherapy

Heat therapy sessions are typically done in a medical setting under the supervision of a dermatologist, but some less powerful heat therapy devices are also available for at-home use. Most heat therapy devices used by doctors produce radiofrequency energy, while home-based devices produce pulsed heat and light energy. 

  • Available forms: 

    • In-office devices available at a doctor’s office
    • At-home devices available over-the-counter
  • Brand names (at-home devices):

    • Zeno™
    • ThermaClear™
    • No! No! Skin™
    • ClearTouch™
  • Dosing information:

    • In-office devices: The frequency and duration of heat therapy vary widely, but, usually, courses of 2-8 sessions are recommended. 
    • At-home devices: The frequency and duration of heat therapy vary widely, twice daily to twice weekly sessions may be recommended, up to 8 sessions in total.
  • Who is it for? 

    • Gender:
      • Males and females
    • Severity of acne:
      • Mild-to-moderate
    • Age:
      • Children of 12 years and older, adolescents, and adults

How to use:

In-office devices: Heat therapy is usually performed by a dermatologist or a trained nurse who will apply a radiofrequency device to your skin. A typical session lasts for about 10 minutes. 

No specific preparation is required unless your doctor instructs otherwise.

There is no downtime and you can return to your usual routine immediately afterward. 

You can apply makeup the same day unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.

At-home devices: Consult your doctor if you are considering an at-home heat therapy device. These devices are less potent than those dermatologists have and the evidence supporting their effectiveness is weak. 

Be aware of: 

  • Before starting heat therapy, inform your doctor if you wear a pacemaker or any implanted electronic device that could be affected by radiofrequency.
  • Before starting heat therapy, be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are using/taking or have used/taken. Mention them even if it seems irrelevant to you and even if you haven’t taken these for a while.
  • If you consider heat therapy and are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, talk to your physician about heat therapy during pregnancy.
  • If you consider heat therapy and are breastfeeding, talk to your physician about heat therapy during this period.
  • You can continue your regular diet unless your physician recommends otherwise.
  • Heat therapy is usually not covered by the insurance. 
  • The evidence supporting the effectiveness of heat therapy is weak. More studies are needed.

Drug interactions: 

Inform your physician or pharmacist about all the prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take before your first heat therapy session. Tell your doctor if you have taken isotretinoin, oral antibiotics, oral contraceptives, steroids, or NSAIDs within the last several months.

References
  1. Min, S., Park, S. Y., Yoon, J. Y. & Suh, D. H. Comparison of fractional microneedling radiofrequency and bipolar radiofrequency on acne and acne scar and investigation of mechanism: comparative randomized controlled clinical trial. Archives of Dermatological Research 307, 897–904 (2015).
  2. Kaminaka, C., Uede, M., Matsunaka, H., Furukawa, F. & Yamamoto, Y. Clinical studies of the treatment of facial atrophic acne scars and acne with a bipolar fractional radiofrequency system. The Journal of Dermatology 42, 580–587 (2015).
  3. Yu, J. N. T. & Huang, P. Use of a TriPollar radio-frequency device for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy 13, 50–53 (2011).
  4. Sadick, N. S., Laver, Z. & Laver, L. Treatment of mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris using a combined light and heat energy device: Home-use clinical study. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy 12, 276–283 (2010).
  5. Elman, M. & Lask, G. The role of pulsed light and heat energy (LHE TM ) in acne clearance. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy 6, 91–95 (2004).