Conventional skin fillers suffer from rapid degradation, require re-injections and may cause complication in blood flow to the skin. Researchers have formulated a new, shape-memorizing skin filler that can address all these issues and revolutionize facial rejuvenation.


Injectable fillers are fast becoming a popular method of facial rejuvenation. Being minimally invasive and showing instant results, dermal filler agents like hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers are injected for cosmetic volume improvements. However, these effects are temporary and diminish over time due to filler degradation and migration. In order to find a long-lasting filler that retains shape and volume, researchers have improved upon dermal fillers to make HA cryogels that can retain their shape and integrate with facial tissue.

Cryogels are non-toxic, injectable compounds that can restore their original shape and produce a desirable volume effect. The size and shape of cryogels, along with firmness and rate of degradation, are highly customizable.  A study published in the Tissue Engineering journal describes the performance evaluation 5mm 3D methacrylated HA (MA-HA) cryogels.

The study tests the effect of dermal fillers and cryogels on mice. Classifying eight female mice in four groups, researchers injected their dorsum with dermal fillers (HA, MA-HA, and saline) and 3D MA-HA cryogels. Specially formulated heart-shaped cryogels were used in the study. Over a period of 30 days, filler degradation was observed using in vivo imaging techniques.  Skin firmness was also observed and recorded using a durometer. Further, 10 mm skin biopsies were retrieved from injected areas for analysis.

The results from the study indicate positive results for the use of shape memorizing dermal fillers. The in vivo imaging reflected that the heart shape was retained even on the 28th day after injection. The degradation rate was slow, which is highly desirable in the facial rejuvenation industry.  The cryogels collapse under shear stress during injection, quickly regaining their original structure upon injection without any mechanical fractures. This provides a simple method of using cryogels as dermal fillers. Use of 3D cryogels also showed no inflammation and subsequent immune reaction. The 3D porous structure is greater in size than subcutaneous blood vessel diameters, and thus there is no risk of blocking blood flow.

Final findings imply that these 3D shape-memorizing HA cryogels can effectively address the limitations arising from the use of conventional dermal fillers.  Use of cryogels can change the way plastic surgeons treat skin sculpting and soft tissue regeneration. Upon further research, 3D MA-HA cryogels can be a non-toxic, durable and minimally invasive treatment option for facial rejuvenation and soft tissue regeneration.

Written By: Anuja Galgali, Biomedical Engineer

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