We’re always on the lookout for the next big thing in skin care — something that really deserves to be called a “game-changer” — and we think we may have found one of the biggest breakthroughs of 2014. Scientists at two different universities in Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore, have heard our cries for more effective anti-aging and scar solutions, and have invented...PATCHES FULL OF NEEDLES? OUCH.
Okay, everybody, calm down. They’re not nearly as terrifying as they sound. In fact, the at-home micro-needling patches being developed seem not only brilliant but, amazingly, painless. "As the needle shafts are about 600 micrometers [.6 mm] in length, they do not cause any perceivable pain on the skin,” according to a statement from NUS.
You know how lots of skin-care products contain collagen as a means of fighting wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and even stretch marks? Since collagen molecules are too big to sink in deeply enough when applied topically, these don't tend to be very effective. The solution? Delivering it to the dermis layer of the skin, in the form of tiny needles attached to adhesive patches. "When applied to the skin, the micro-needles deliver the drug [lidocaine, a painkiller] or collagen rapidly into the skin without any discomfort to the user," says the NUS statement. The process takes five minutes.
Using similar technology, researchers at NTU (which is, by the way, a 15-minute drive from the NUS), have developed polymer-based patches in which micro-needles deliver the FDA-approved, scar-reducing drug 5-fluorouracil. These would serve as a way to treat keloids — raised scars, often formed after an injury — cheaper and with less pain than the current options, which include surgery and corticosteroid injections. "We wanted to develop a simple, convenient, and cost-effective device able to inhibit keloid growth in skin tissue and reduce the size of disfiguring scars,” NTU professor Yuejun Kang said in a statement.
Researchers aren't sure when these will become available on the market, but they hope it will be soon because of how easy they are to make. In addition to beauty-related uses, they also see potential to administer painkillers and vaccines.
Not gonna lie, though — we’re most excited about the beauty stuff.
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