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Electricity's Role in Anti-Aging Skin Care

Posted: March 21, 2011

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"RF devices have not replaced traditional surgical face lifting, but significant improvement in neck sagging, jowl and cheek contour, and eyelid and brow drooping have been documented," said Farris. "The latest generation of RF devices delivers energy using the fractionated technology adapted from lasers, and studies show that fractionated radiofrequency (FRF) may be more effective than traditional radiofrequency at skin lifting because it induces both collagen and elastin formation."

Another new technique using electricity to improve aging skin that is currently being evaluated is electoporation (EP). With this technique, electricity is used to physically enhance skin penetration through high voltage, short duration pulses applied to the skin.

"While research is preliminary, electoporation has been shown to effectively enhance skin penetration of molecules and water-based compounds. It is possible EP will enable us to deliver compounds such as skin nutrients and growth factors to the skin far more effectively in the future and ultimately help reduce the signs of aging," said Farris.

Cosmeceuticals get a charge of electricity to improve aging skin

Most cosmeceuticals marketed for aging skin use chemicals to improve the appearance of the skin, but Farris noted that now the principles of electricity are beginning to be used in these products to create "bioelectricity" to alter cellular activity of the skin. For example, a cream with a metal in it is placed on the skin, followed by another cream containing a different metal. The metals applied to the skin have opposite charges, which act like a battery -- similar to electric stimulation techniques to reduce muscle or nerve pain.

"Much of what we know about bioelectricity comes from our study of wounds, which appear to generate a low level of electricity that starts the healing process," said Farris. "Interestingly, it also has been shown that aging skin has lower levels of bioelectricity, resulting in poor wound healing, and reduced collagen and elastin formation. This is an exciting area of research, and more studies on these electrically based cosmeceuticals will help us further understand their capabilities and the duration of aesthetic improvements that can be expected."