Implants, Metals, Stents, Lasers and RF/Sound Waves

Implants, Metals, Stents, Lasers and RF/Sound Waves

Can I use radio frequency skin tightening or cavitation on my stomach/back/ arms if I have a titanium rod in my femur bone? Or is that too close? I also have screws/pins in my hand as well.

I am a 5’4″ 110 lbs. 73 year old in good health with no prescribed medications, don’t smoke, rarely drink, and can hike 12 miles easily. Question: I have 3 narrow plates (approx. 1/4″ under my eye socket, along my cheekbone diagonally, and my nose) and am considering a CO2 Laser procedure on my face. Due to the heat aspect of the procedure, is it safe to have this procedure done?

I know it’s really hard to get guidance on these issues. It’s partly because cardiologists are wonderful with your heart, but can’t and shouldn’t spend time trying keep up with all these different aesthetic devices. And, our primary care doctors are having to fight an uphill battle every day with these corporate medicine groups to maintain quality. Your board certified dermatologists are your best bet for advice. I have a special interest in this area because I am also board certified in internal medicine. Each situation is unique so you really have to ask your dermatologist!

Good general guidelines for thinking about this:

  • There are more than three different ways RF/sound waves can be used in these procedures. The main ones are bipolar devices, unipolar and monopolar, but there are others. To simplify it, this determines how the current is passed through your body, or if it just stays in the skin.  It’s complicated, which is why there isn’t one simple answer to this.
  • The problem may be the heat that the device generates. Often it’s the glue that cements the implant or the hip. You can see why you wouldn’t want this to reach a “melting” point and deteriorate.
  • If no current is being passed through the metal/glue, and there isn’t a lot of heat generated by the procedure, it’s very low risk. For example, with the CO2 question above, was the implant glued in? Ask your plastic surgeon if the CO2 would be safe for you. Generally, CO2 would be safe over an implant, but the skin is very thin in that area.
  • If the grounding pad isn’t placed so that the current is travelling through the implant in question, there is no heat generated. But again, please check with your doctors. Many patients don’t really know exactly what was done or what was used.
  • Lasers (light waves) are not a problem generally for devices like pacemakers and defibrillators. Importantly, any RF/sound wave device could be. You must get an okay from your doctor for these.

Resources for you:

  • If you can’t get answers from the provider who is doing the procedures, my recommendation would be to leave and find a more knowledgeable office.
  • Try contacting the company who makes the device. If it’s a medical device company, they are supposed to have a medical director who can answer questions like these. Sometimes they send the default company info, which isn’t always that helpful.
  • Contact your surgeon who put in the implant or metal and ask them. But importantly, only after you research yourself and know exactly what device you are thinking about using.
  • Ask a board certified dermatologist who does cosmetic work, or a plastic surgeon who has a strong laser background, and doesn’t delegate lasers to their nurses without understanding them.
  • Medi-spas are supposed to have medical directors. Ask the technician to put you in contact with them.
  • Web “research” is useful mostly for getting together a good list of questions you want to ask.


Hope this helps!
Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD
Founder of SkinTour & MadisonMD Skincare
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!