WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 17, 2008 -- The same tiny lights found in electronic billboards and
traffic lights might zap away wrinkles and lead to younger-looking skin without
the need for cosmetic surgery or Botox, say researchers in Germany.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been used for more than 40 years to speed
wound healing, and they are already being used in skin rejuvenation procedures,
but until now, researchers have not understood exactly how they work. Now they
The research centered on elastin -- the protein involved in skin elasticity.
With age, elastin fibers break down and the skin loses its ability to bounce
Researchers Andrei P. Sommer and Dan Zhu of the University of Ulm in Germany
have discovered that during aging, water layers surrounding elastin fibers
change and affect the elastin fibers. This may contribute to the formation of
The researchers theorized that they could use high-intensity visible light
from LEDs to change the molecular structure of the water layer to free up
elastin. They used an array of LEDs that gave off 600-720 nanometers of light.
To prevent any adverse effects to the cells from the light penetrating the
skin, the doses were adjusted to temporarily increase circulation.
After nine weeks of daily treatment, participants had a noticeable reduction
in wrinkles. The LED therapy led to rejuvenated, younger-looking, and more
resilient skin, according to the researchers.
Because elastin also provides elasticity to the blood vessels, heart, and
other structures in the body, the researchers say LEDs might be useful for
other therapies, as well. “We are justified in believing that our approach can
be easily converted to deep-body rejuvenation programs,” they write in the Nov.
5 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Crystal Growth &
SOURCES:Sommer, A. CrystalGrowth & Design, Nov. 5, 2008.News release, American Chemical Society.
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