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For those concerned about wrinkly old skin, it might be an ingenious solution: a stretchy “second skin” that can be smoothed on to make aged tissue look more youthful.
The wearable film developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown promise in a series of small trials where it was applied to wrinkles, under-eye bags and patches of dry skin.
The so-called XPL (short for cross-linked polymer layer) is applied in a simple two-step process that creates rather miraculous results. The first layer is made up of polysiloxane components, while the second is a platinum catalyst that causes those polymers in the first to connect and form a strong film that can withstand washing and other wear and tear, for up to 24 hours. The research was published today in Nature Materials.
“It’s an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area that’s being treated. Those three things together could really make it ideal for use in humans,” says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).
The layer is designed to be applied in the morning, then peeled off and disposed of at night. In pilot studies, the second skin withstood normal daily wear, and the stresses and strains of exercise and swimming, without falling off or causing irritation. It also weathered exposure to rain.
“It’s something you can wear for a whole day or longer depending on the physical forces that get applied to the area where it is worn,” said Daniel Anderson, who helped develop the product at MIT. “You can’t tell you’re wearing it.”
“You can rub it from the corner and peel it off. But it doesn’t do that under standard manipulation. We don’t want something that falls off,” he added.
While normal cosmetics can mask imperfections on the skin, the new coating changes the way skin behaves by giving it the elasticity of young skin. It was developed with help from two MIT spin-out companies: Living Proof, a cosmetics firm, and Olivo Labs, a medical company.
With more work, they believe the films could be used to mask port-wine stain birthmarks, to protect the face from UV rays, or to treat skin disorders such as eczema. Another hope is to create films that contain drugs, which can be released slowly onto skin to treat disease or wounds.
The physical properties of the film are tuned to match the elasticity of young skin. Once the creams are mixed on the face, the layer takes about three minutes to reach full strength. The film is nearly invisible on the skin, but in tests the edge of the film became noticeable in two out of 25 people after 16 hours of wear.
The most impressive results came when the scientists applied the film to under-eye bags, the flaccid skin that can appear under the eye, particularly in older people. By compressing the loose skin, the polymer film improved the appearance of the eye bag to a level that had only been achieved before with invasive surgery. Next, the scientists gently pinched the under-eye skin and showed that the coating made the skin spring back into position much faster.
The researchers went on to test whether the layer improved the elasticity of skin elsewhere and showed that skin recoiled more quickly from pinching on the forearm. Skin loses its elasticity with age, so restoring its stretchiness makes it appear younger. In a final test, the film proved its ability to prevent moisture loss on patches of dry skin.
If this technology takes off, soon everyone can have wrinkle free skin with just a splash of cream. Amazing!
3rd-gen ultrasound-assisted liposuction with minimal swelling and pain. Technology with advanced sculpting techniques employed in Vaser-assisted Hi-Definition Liposculpture: the creation of athletic definition from surface fat; six-packs anyone?