Advances in electric pulse research could spark a new trend in anti-ageing technology. Nicole Mangura reports.

It's time to look to the future of skincare.
It’s time to look to the future of skincare.

Pulsing lights may no longer be reserved for busy night clubs. A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School have been developing a non-invasive technique which uses pulsed electric fields (PEF) to encourage skin rejuvenation.

A shock to the system

PEF is a tissue stimulation technique which utilises microsecond-pulsed, high-voltage, non-thermal electric fields, to stimulate the secretion of new collagen and capillaries in skin. The treatment aims to reset skin metabolism, leading to skin rejuvenation. Essentially, the electric fields cause the death of a small number of cells in affected areas, releasing new growth factors. This allows an increase in the metabolism of the remaining cells and encourages new tissue to be generated while still preserving the architecture of the skin.

“The main difference between this approach and procedures like ultrasound and lasers is that they operate on the whole tissue, while PEF works on only a cellular level, which we expect will provide more precise treatment results in the future,” Massachusetts General Hospital Center doctor and study author Alexander Golberg told Science Daily last week.

What’s new about light therapy?

Current therapies use various physical and chemical methods to rejuvenate skin but have significant disadvantages. These can include changing the function and architecture of treated tissue or causing an off-target tissue response, resulting in unwanted side effects such as scarring. PEF however, is designed to target only the cell membrane, preserving the extracellular matrix architecture and releasing multiple growth factors to spark new cell and tissue growth.

What can it be used for?

Electric pulse therapy is designed to jumpstart the secretion of collagen and capillaries in problematic skin areas and may revolutionise the treatment of degenerative skin diseases. It is also being considered as an alternative, more permanent solution to nonsurgical procedures like botox.

At the moment PEF is only just beginning clinical trials, but if you have a couple of hundred grand to spare, researchers are looking for funding to develop a low-cost device to test the safety of the technology in humans.

Have your say: Would you use a pulsed electric field treatment in your salon?

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