New Transparent Film Can Temporarily Tighten Sagging Skin

Scientists have developed a transparent film which can temporarily tighten sagging skin.

The material is a silicone-based polymer which when applied mimics the elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin.

As well as being able to temporarily 'reverse' the effects of bags under the eyes the new material also has medical applications as a protective barrier against UV light and as a way of keeping skin hydrated.

Scientists at MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof and Olivio Labs have developed the polymer as both a cosmetic product and as a medical tool.

Melanie Gonick/MIT

Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering explains, "It's an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area that's being treated. Those three things together could really make it ideal for use in humans,"

One of the biggest hurdles the team encountered was creating a material that's both visually pleasing and medically beneficial.

"Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult," says Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist at MGH and an author of the paper. "Many people have tried to do this, and the materials that have been available up until this have not had the properties of being flexible, comfortable, non-irritating."

What the team settled on was a cross-linked polymer layer (XPL) that has the ability to be stretched over 250 per cent its original size while still keeping a transparent appearance and being comfortable to wear.

During testing the team applied the XPL to the under-eye area - a region which is most notably affected through ageing through 'eye bags'.

Olivo Labs, LLC

What the team found was that the film tightened the skin under the eyes, restoring a youthful appearance for up to 24 hours.

Another test produced even more exciting results - the team applied XPL to the forearm of the skin. Once applied it was tested using a suction cup, the treated skin returned to its normal appearance at a much faster rate.

Anti-ageing products are big business, in fact last year the industry was valued at being worth just under $200 billion.

While this new material could provide a new range of healthy anti-ageing products, the medical opportunities are also exciting.

When applied XPL allows the skin to retain water at a much higher rate than normal. They found that while skin treated with a high-end commercial moisturiser was able to retain water for around 2 hours, the XPL was able to keep the skin hydrated for a full 24 hours.

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