A new non-invasive method for skin rejuvenation may have less unintended side effects such as scarring and altered pigmentation than conventional methods.
Treatment with pulsed electric fields — a noninvasive procedure that does not involve the generation of heat – removed skin cells in an animal model without affecting the supporting extracellular matrix, eventually leading to renewal of the skin surface.
"We showed that non-thermal pulsed electric field or PEF treatment can reset skin metabolism, leading to skin rejuvenation," said lead author Alexander Golberg of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine, US.
The current therapies aimed at skin rejuvenation that affect all exposed tissue can change skin’s structure and function.
Even approaches that directly target skin cells can have undesired effects including scarring and discoloration.
Long used in food preservation for its ability to kill bacteria, PEF causes the formation of tiny pores in the outer membranes of cells.
The team first determined the optimal strength, duration and number of PEF pulses required to induce the formation of collagen in the skin of healthy young rats.
Within periods of up to two months after treatment, PEF-induced changes in skin thickness, blood supply, and collagen density had returned to the pre-treatment characteristics of healthy young skin.
"Our results show that the procedure is safe, does not lead to scarring and increases skin metabolism and cell proliferation," said Martin Yarmush, director of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine.
The study appeared online in the journal Scientific Reports.