Procedures/ Microwave Energy

Microwave Energy

Procedures 4 min read


Microwave Energy

Almost everyone in the developed world has a microwave oven in their home. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated these household appliances since the early 1970s to ensure they meet performance and safety standards. In other countries as well, government organizations similarly regulate microwave products. This article gives you an introduction to microwave heating and answers questions like - What is microwave radiation? You may be surprised to learn that the use of microwaves is not only limited to cooking food in microwave ovens. It is relevant in medical and cosmetic treatments as well.

What are microwaves?

Microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation, i.e., they are waves of electric and magnetic energy that move through space. The electromagnetic spectrum includes a wide range of energy waves, ranging from the very long to the very short. Only a small part of this spectrum is visible to the human eye - we call it visible light. Microwaves are also a part of the EM spectrum but they are invisible to us. In addition to visible light and microwaves, other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum include radio waves, gamma waves, and X-rays.

What is microwave radiation?

Radiofrequency waves, visible light, and microwaves are called non-ionizing radiation. This means they do not have enough energy to knock the electrons out of atoms (or ionize atoms). X-rays and gamma rays, on the other hand, are ionizing radiation. They contain enough energy to cause damage to cells. That is why exposure to X-rays is limited to only as necessary.

Uses of microwaves

Microwaves have a wide range of applications in the modern world. They are used in speed cameras, communication equipment, weather radar, and mobile phones. Microwaves are used to dry plywood, proof yeast for bread, and disinfect kitchen items. The most common device that uses microwave energy is the microwave oven, which can be found in most modern kitchens.

How does a microwave oven work?

Microwave ovens rely on certain qualities of microwaves to cook food. The first is that microwaves pass through materials like glass, plastic, and paper but are reflected by metal. The second is that microwaves are absorbed by food.

An electron tube in a microwave oven acts as a microwave generator. The metal interior of the oven reflects the microwave radiation. The microwave energy causes a vibration of the food particles, especially foods that have a high water-content such as fresh vegetables (which tend to cook quickly in microwave ovens). The vibration caused by the microwaves is converted to heat and absorbed by the food. This is how microwave heating and cooking of food takes place.

Do microwave ovens cause cancer?

Microwave ovens do not contaminate the food, make it radioactive, or reduce its nutritional value. Rather, microwave heating is a more energy efficient cooking method because it cooks food faster and only heats the food, not the oven itself.

Natural and man-made microwave sources

Natural sources of microwaves

The sun and cosmic background radiation.

Artificial sources of microwaves

Products like circuits, radars, transmission towers, mobile phones, and microwave ovens.

Microwave energy in industrial processes

Microwave frequencies have potential to be used for the recovery of metal oxide through processes such as heating, drying, roasting, smelting, and leaching. Advanced engineering technologies use microwave power in a range of industrial applications.

Microwaves in medicine

Axillary hyperhidrosis

A microwave-based device has been tested for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating in the underarms). The device causes microwave heating of the underarm sweat glands and destroys them, leading to a reduction in sweating. The product has been found to have long-term efficacy with mild side effects.

Prostate enlargement

Microwave energy is used in many other branches of medicine besides dermatology, including oncology and urology. Transurethral microwave therapy TUMT is used in patients with an enlarged prostate gland to relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

HPV infection

Patients with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection of the skin can develop keratinized warts and malignancy (skin cancer). Microwave frequencies can readily pass through the highly keratinized skin (thick skin) and deliver heat to the affected tissues to destroy them in a precisely controlled manner.

Use of microwaves in aesthetic treatments

MiraDry and MiraSmooth

Two well-known aesthetic treatments, MiraDry and MiraSmooth, use microwave energy. MiraDry is a non-invasive office-based treatment that helps to permanently eliminate sweat glands in the underarms. The treatment is used to relieve excessive sweating in patients with axillary hyperhidrosis, a condition in which there is excessive and unprovoked sweating in the armpits. MiraSmooth is a similar device that uses microwaves to kill hair follicles and reduce hair growth.

Onda with Coolwaves

Other microwave devices have also been developed. A device called Onda with Coolwaves uses a microwave frequency of 2.45 GHz which is specifically absorbed by fat cells. The non-invasive treatment is effective in reducing localized deposits of fat and tightening and toning the skin with minimal side effects. It also diminishes cellulite or the orange peel effect in skin. This microwave heating system can be combined with more traditional techniques such as liposuction or cryolipolysis.

Mommy makeover

Combined microwave and CO2 laser treatments can be used to address some of the changes that occur during pregnancy, such as loose skin and loss of muscle tone in the abdominal area. This treatment, which is commonly called a mommy makeover, may involve the use of the Onda system along with a fractional ablative CO2 laser.

Finding an aesthetic provider

If you are interested in learning more about microwave-based medical or aesthetic treatments, the MeTime app makes it easy to find experienced healthcare providers in your area. You can click and upload pictures and have suggestions sent directly to you. Find out how a microwave heating system could potentially treat your medical problem or enhance your natural beauty. Try the MeTime app now!