Oct. 17, 2008 — The same tiny lights found in electronic billboards andtraffic lights might zap away wrinkles and lead to younger-looking skin withoutthe need for cosmetic surgery or Botox, say researchers in Germany.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been used for more than 40 years to speedwound healing, and they are already being used in skin rejuvenation procedures,but until now, researchers have not understood exactly how they work. Now theydo.
The research centered on elastin — the protein involved in skin elasticity.With age, elastin fibers break down and the skin loses its ability to bounceback.
Researchers Andrei P. Sommer and Dan Zhu of the University of Ulm in Germanyhave discovered that during aging, water layers surrounding elastin fiberschange and affect the elastin fibers. This may contribute to the formation ofwrinkles.
The researchers theorized that they could use high-intensity visible lightfrom LEDs to change the molecular structure of the water layer to free upelastin. 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 theskin, the doses were adjusted to temporarily increase circulation.
After nine weeks of daily treatment, participants had a noticeable reductionin wrinkles. The LED therapy led to rejuvenated, younger-looking, and moreresilient skin, according to the researchers.
Because elastin also provides elasticity to the blood vessels, heart, andother structures in the body, the researchers say LEDs might be useful forother therapies, as well. “We are justified in believing that our approach canbe easily converted to deep-body rejuvenation programs,” they write in the Nov.5 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Crystal Growth &Design.