3D Printing Can Help Wrinkles Too?!

The only limit to what 3D printing can do for us is our imagination. In the beauty field, 3D printing could revolutionize what is currently possible. One example researchers are looking into is visual mapping using 3D software that allows them to measure and understand wrinkles like never before and therefore how to fill them.

Software visually maps horizontal movement of the face. (Left) Before injection, the light blue in the center indicates compression of the skin between the eyebrows and above the nose. (Right) Two weeks after injection. The new colors show decreased compression.
Credit: Penn Medicine

A three-dimensional imaging technique often used in the automotive and aerospace industries for accurate measurement may be useful to measure the efficacy of injectable wrinkle reducers such as Botox and Dysport, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The procedure, called three-dimensional speckle tracking photogrammetry, is described in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Authors say it has the potential to measure the efficacy of several treatments for which these types of injections are used, not only for cosmetic purposes but also to reduce facial paralysis arising from stroke and Bell’s palsy.

Photogrammetry is the use of photography to measure distances between objects. Using the new technique, researchers can measure dynamic facial wrinkles and their subsequent reduction following injection. Results are presented as a color-coded heat map. By comparing before- and after-treatment heat maps of patients, physicians can objectively evaluate wrinkle reduction and such other variables such as optimal dosage for obtaining maximum aesthetic benefit.

“There is a growing body of evidence that injectable fillers for both cosmetic and reconstructive purposes can have significant psychological benefits,” said senior author Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, director of Basic Science Research and associate director of Cosmetic Surgery in the division of Plastic Surgery at Penn. “With more people turning to this procedure, it is important to have evidence-based ways of improving cosmetic and reconstructive surgical results.” Current attempts at measuring wrinkle reduction mostly rely on static photographs and subjective visual assessments.

Injectable fillers reduce or eliminate wrinkles by relaxing the muscles responsible for their development. After treatment, the muscles gradually become less active, allowing the overlying skin to appear smoother.

Melanoma on the Rise

Most Americans admit that they never wear sunscreen and melanoma rates are showing that. People are getting cancer much more frequently than ever before. Even in children this has been manifesting over two times as much as it has in the past 40 years. What is causing this?

The incidence of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, has increased by more than 250% among children, adolescents and young adults since 1973, according to award-winning research to be presented by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 51st Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The research has been recognized with an ASCO Merit Award. Analyzing SEER data, Roswell Park scientists determined that the number of cases of melanoma diagnosed in children, adolescents and young adults increased by 253% from 1973 to 2011. Survival rates also have increased — from 80% for the period 1973-1980 to 95% in 2011. Female young adults appear to be at particular risk for melanoma, a trend that may be due to known risk factors such as high-risk tanning behaviors.

“Given the epidemic rise of melanoma cases diagnosed among children, adolescents and young adults, it is imperative that new research initiatives are implemented, genetic and environmental risk factors identified, and effective prevention and screening strategies employed,” says Demytra Mitsis, MD, lead author of the study and a Fellow in the Department of Medical Oncology at Roswell Park.

The SEER data analysis included 35,726 cases of melanoma identified among individuals less than 40 years of age from 1973 to 2011. Mitsis and colleagues found that 98% of the melanoma cases were diagnosed among adolescents and young adults (aged 15-39 years), and 32 years was the median age. Females comprised 57% of reported cases from 1973 to 1980 and 65.2% of reported cases from 2001 to 2011. The Roswell Park team’s evaluation revealed that the proportion of noninvasive, early-stage melanoma cases increased from 4% of cases for the period 1973 to 1980 to more than 20% of all melanoma cases in 2011.

Why Botox is Effective

People have been using Botox for quite a while in an attempt to restore youthful glow and tone. More recent studies are showing exactly how and why Botox is so successful in helping patients achieve a younger look. As the skin loses elasticity, Botox has become a wonderful cure on a molecular level.

Skin pliability and elasticity improved after treatment with onabotulinum toxin (Botox) for mild facial wrinkles and the effect lasted for up to four months, according to a report published online by JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

Human skin has three biomechanical features: strength, pliability (the ability to stretch) and elasticity (the ability to recoil). As people age, these properties change and the loss of skin elasticity appears to be the most prominent. Physicians use a variety of methods to reverse the signs of aging and onabotulinum toxin A injections are among them.

James P. Bonaparte, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C., of the University of Ottawa, and David Ellis, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., of the University of Toronto, both in Canada, sought to further understand the effect of onabotulinum toxin A on the skin by studying its effect on 48 women (43 completed the study) treated at a private cosmetic surgery clinic for mild wrinkles of the forehead and around the eyes.

The authors observed that onabotulinum A injections in the facial skin resulted in increased pliability and elastic recoil. These biomechanical changes mimic those of more youthful skin. The mechanism for this skin change is unclear but the effect of the onabotulinum A injections is similar to a radiofrequency skin tightening procedure. However, by four months these improvements returned to how the skin was before treatment.

“The changes occurring in patients’ skin appear to be the opposite of those associated with the aging process and UV radiation exposure and inflammation. This study also suggests that the duration of effect of these changes mimics the duration of effect of the medication. Future studies are required to determine and quantify the histologic changes that are occurring,” the study concludes.

Good Bacteria

As counterintuitive as it seems, bacteria are all over our skin and it’s a good thing. These tiny microbes are our first line of defense against other pathogens that could get us really sick. The skin is however a difficult place to live for a number of reasons. Scientists worry that these microbes are not as effective as they should be. Check out why.

The skin microbiome is considered our first line of defense against pathogens. Across our bodies, we are covered with a diverse assemblage of bacteria. However, the skin can be a harsh environment for beneficial bacteria to live on due to UV exposure, high salinity, and desiccation stress. Research being presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology found that these suboptimal conditions may cause some bacteria to enter a dormant state, while other bacteria may simply die.

In this study, Sarah Cummins and her colleagues in Jay T. Lennon’s laboratory in the Department of Biology at Indiana University in Bloomington used fluorescent dyes to stain the cells isolated from the skin, which allowed them to determine the activity of each individual cell. “We measured the metabolic activity levels of microbial cells isolated from different areas of our skin and found that about 90% of the bacteria on our skin are either dead or inactive” said Cummins. We determined that each skin site harbors different proportions of microorganisms that are metabolically active, inactive, or dead. Out of the three skin habitats that we measured, the upper back had the both highest amount of active bacteria (11%). and the highest amount of dead bacteria (67%). The forearm had the highest proportion of dormant bacteria (55%). The last skin site, the skin crease behind the knee, had activity levels in between the forearm and back. Our results also revealed that as we grow older, the microbes on our skin become less active.

These results are important in health applications and understanding more about our immune system.

“We developed two main hypotheses to explain these results. The first is that the lack of nutrients and moisture on our skin creates a harsh environment for the cells, and they are not able to breathe and grow at full capacity, if at all, with this lack of nutrition. The differences in nutrient availability (e.g., oil, sweat) on each skin site accounts for the differences in activity levels. The second hypothesis is that our immune system causes the cells to have a low level of activity, said Cummins.” The immune system can recognize specific proteins on pathogens that alert our bodies to their presence. It may be possible that the low activity level might be a way for cells to survive on the skin without detection. “If we discover that the microbiome and the skin are interacting in these or other similar ways, it could have an important impact on how we treat skin-associated diseases,” she added.