THE ISSUE AT HAND.
There has been a paradigm shift in skin rejuvenation over the last few
years; a trend that will no doubt be accelerated by recent events. Where
formerly skin rejuvenation was an acquisition, now it is part of a holistic
wellness regime that begins and ends in the home. The goals, too, have
changed. Where formerly it was accepted that home-based skin care regimes
managed the inevitable age-related decline in tone, texture and clarity,
now the more ambitious goal is to reverse the signs of aging.
In this context, clinic-based therapies and even aesthetic surgery have
become adjuncts rather than the principal or only means by which skin
rejuvenation can be acquired. As people are taking ever greater
responsibility for the rejuvenation of their own skin, so this necessitates
a drive to develop better products for use at home. The challenge is that
these products must not only be effective, but they must avoid pain and
The traditional paradigm of skin rejuvenation works by a controlled
chemical or thermal injury which initiates a wound healing cascade. This is
often best reserved for controlled, clinical environments. Empowering the
individual requires us to find ways to circumvent these problems while
offering something that is both safe and efficacious.
Limitations of ‘at home’ LED devices.
A large number of products have been developed in the last decade offering
a safe and efficacious means of rejuvenating the skin and reversing the
signs of aging.
At the forefront of this innovation drive is LED-based low level light
therapy. The theoretical basis of this therapeutic option is evidence that
the absorption of light at the red and near infrared end of the spectrum
induces a cascade of beneficial events within the cells of the skin that
induces tissue regeneration without the need for tissue injury. This is
known as photobiomodulation. At a basic level, micro current treatments are
a less precise and selective means of achieving the same thing.
Red and near infrared light also exhibit the potential to stimulate hair
follicles and improve blood flow. By contrast, blue light promotes the
formation of chemical compounds within the oil-producing sebaceous glands
that actually kill the bacteria associated with spots, blemishes and acne.
However, there are a number of crucial differences between the type of
light produced by LED and that produced by lasers. LED light does not
penetrate skin in the way that laser light does. One of the theoretical
limitations of LED-based skin rejuvenation is that the light may not reach
to the depth required to rejuvenate the deeper part of the skin in the way
that a laser alternative can.
LED can stimulate the epidermis towards epidermal turnover which can have
an effect on smoothness and help to even out skin tone. However, the skin
isn’t uniform in terms of its structure to the top layer to the bottom
layer. Wrinkle reduction has to be targeted from the bottom layers, and
there is no evidence to say what benefits LED is able to effect at the base
layers of the skin.
THE POTENTIAL OF MICROCURRENT DEVICES.
To a certain extent, micro current electric machines is a crude way of
doing the same thing LED light does which is energy exchange at a cellular
level. They don’t have the potential breadth of cellular effect that light
imparts on cells. It’s a crude way of energy exchange and energy exchange
dissipates in the form of heat. So, it works by micro changes and
intracellular temperature levels that induce physiological effects.
Electricity preferentially takes the path of least resistance. In the case of
the passage of electricity through living tissue, skin and fat provide
relatively greater resistance than nerve or muscle. The long term effects of the
preferential passage of micro currents through nerve and muscle rather than skin
and fat remains unclear.
Why laser light is the gold standard.
Photobiomodulation is now a well-established goal of low level light therapy
with a firm scientific basis. LEDs have become the typical source of light for
photobiomodulation because of the commercial advantages of developing LED-based
light sources for use at home. They are relatively cheap, cover large surface
areas and are, on the whole, unregulated. Laser light, the theoretical gold
standard in photobiomodulation, has not been developed along the same commercial
template due to the perceived challenges of developing a safe laser for home use
within the required regulatory framework.
A safe red/near infrared laser for home use photobiomodulation offers a
completely novel paradigm in the growing field of at-home skincare. The precise,
targeted, non-destructive induction of tissue regeneration from the surface of
the skin to the tissues underneath the skin is not available at present using
any alternative method for use at home. Moreover, as light of different
wavelengths induces different tissue responses, combining a red/near infrared
laser with a blue LED, thereby also targeting the relatively superficial
sebaceous glands, offers a powerful combination of light based therapies. This
option has the potential to completely recalibrate our expectations of what can
be achieved at home.