A recent article in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology investigates novel ways to treat facial wrinkles, including the use of a patch.
Our fascination with younger-looking skin is manifested in the billions of dollars poured into the purchase of cosmetics and skin-care products. Laboratories around the world are working around-the-clock for the next big thing – to make skin fresher and smoother, or to say goodbye to unwanted facial wrinkles.
Ironically, the greatest barrier to the success of any formulations remains the skin itself. Contrary to popular belief the skin, by virtue of its design, is nearly impermeable. The same characteristics which prevent the entry of bacteria or any harmful substance also block the passage of any beauty cream or ointment, which can then lessen a beauty cream’s potential benefits.
We can take oral formulations to bypass this barrier but anything taken through the mouth is digested and can then interact with the whole body in systemic ways. Injecting via needles is the most direct delivery method. Wrinkles and facial furrows are in fact addressed using multiple injections of hyaluronic acid fillers, but these are still painful processes which need to be administered by trained health personnel.
Dermatology researchers in South Korea are now looking at a different delivery system to treat facial wrinkles: the transdermal patch. Composed of microneedles in diameters of 30 micrometers (much thinner than an eyelash), these patches create minute openings into the dermis of the skin to facilitate the deployment of medications. Patches are already used this way in hormone replacement therapy, or as nicotine patches for smoking cessation. In a 2017 article in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers have published their preliminary findings on the use of these patches as a potential vehicle for facial rejuvenation.
The article details how researchers created soluble, microneedle patches incorporated with hyaluronic acid. These were then tailored to fit over the crow’s feet and nasolabial fold areas. After application of a commercial wrinkle cream, researchers then applied these patches over wrinkle areas. They then compared the results to two other patient groups who only received one treatment—either the patch or the wrinkle cream.
After periods of 4, 8, and 12 weeks, the patients were assessed on the severity of their wrinkles using a standardized score. The researchers reported better results and scores in the subset of patients who received the combination therapy of both microneedle patch and skin cream. Patients also reported better satisfaction, and no adverse events were reported.
With the potentially superior results, the researchers hope to do further studies that can validate the potential of microneedle patches for the elimination of wrinkles. These patches could prove to be an effective way to rejuvenate the skin, without the potentially painful office visits. And it may not be long until these patches become part-and-parcel of nightly beauty regimens all across the globe.
Written by Jay Martin, M.D.
Reference: Hong, et al., “Efficacy and safety of a novel, soluble microneedle patch for the improvement of facial wrinkle”. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2017. Doi: 10.1111/jocd.12426.