Plasma technology in cosmetology

The use of plasma technology is a relatively new area in cosmetics and is still not entirely clear. The first devices were created as an alternative to laser rejuvenation, but recent studies show that the possibility of using plasma is much wider.

Plasma: what is it?


To understand what are the advantages of using plasma technologies, let's first understand what plasma is. Plasma is a gas which, unlike stable gases familiar to us, is not only neutral molecules but also includes charged particles — free electrons and positive and negative ions (and in some cases consists only of those charged particles).

There are 2 types of plasma:

  • high temp. This type of plasma is present in the Sun, formed by the discharge of lightning and in the course of fusion. High-temperature plasma is considered the "classic" fourth aggregate state of matter;
  • low temperature — with a small degree of ionization (to 1%). Usually get it when exposed to the gas the electrical current accelerates the electrons which in turn ionize atoms. With this type of work plasma production and medicine.

Biomedical effects of plasma

Plasma is the source:

  • heat;
  • reactive forms of oxygen, nitrogen and free radicals;
  • different types of radiation (ultraviolet to infrared).

Specific effects in interaction with tissues-targets will depend on the type of the applied plasma dose, flow rate, pressure, exposure time (parameters which can be influenced through modifications of devices), and the characteristics of the fabric itself.

Original medicine has adopted the thermal effects of plasma. So, high-speed plasma flow generated by exposing the inert gases electric current of great strength, known as the plasma knife is used to cut and remove tissue. The ability of the plasma to heat the tissue (although at a smaller rate) became the Foundation of its use in cosmetics.

However, I must say that in recent years, more attention is attracted by the technology of cold plasma low temperature (35-40oC), which allows us to achieve therapeutic effects without damaging the living tissues.

Currently, the possibility of the use of the ability of the cold of low-temperature plasma to generate free radicals and ultraviolet radiation for disinfection of human skin, as well as for the treatment of wounds. Such an effect allows you to kill antibiotic-resistant microbes (particularly in nosocomial infections), without damaging the skin itself. Antimicrobial activity of the plasma was demonstrated not only in laboratory animals but also in randomized controlled human studies: treatment of wounds for two minutes using cold argon plasma stimulates a significant decrease in both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria in wounds.

In addition, it was found that the treatment of wounds cold of low-temperature plasma accelerates their healing. Recent work, published in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrated that such plasma stimulates the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes through the activation of β-catenin-signaling pathway and inhibiting E-cadherin, which is responsible for contact inhibition of cell growth. In mice, the wound which was treated with low temperature plasma, after 15 days it was observed almost complete regeneration of the epidermis and muscle tissue, as well as the high density of collagen fibers, while in the wounds, healing naturally, these processes were much slower.

Recent studies also showed that the cold plasma leads to a temporary reduction in the barrier function of the stratum corneum and enhances the skin permeability to drugs and cosmetics. It is assumed that this is due to the rearrangement of the lipid bilayers under the action of plasma and the formation of temporary channels to facilitate the passage of various substances.

Plasma methods in cosmetology


The beginning of an era of plasma technology in cosmetics is associated with the thermal effects of plasma. So, plasma rejuvenation methods based on controlled thermal tissue damage to launch regenerative processes and updates tissue. This principle is the primary and other methods of rejuvenation hardware, however, in the case of the use of plasma has its own characteristics.

Plasma skin regeneration

Pioneer plasma rejuvenation is a technology of plasma skin regeneration (Plasma Skin Regeneration, PSR), which appeared in 2006 as a plasma-forming gas was proposed to use a nitrogen — inert gas, which can displace the oxygen required for the oxidation and combustion, the surface of the skin, and thus minimize the risk of burns and scarring.

Under the action of high frequency electric current in the handle of the device ionization of nitrogen molecules and forms plasma, which is delivered to the skin in a contactless manner in the form of short pulses (such contactless method of treatment allows the skin to quickly cool down and eliminates risk of burns from parts of the device). That is, in fact, plasma is the "carrier" of electric energy.

Once the plasma hits the skin, its energy is quickly distributed over the surface and provides a gradient heating of the skin — epidermis first, and then (depending on energy level) of the dermis with the formation of the superficial zone of irreversible thermal damage and a deeper zone of thermal modification.

It is important that, in contrast to lasers, plasma does not require the presence of chromophores in the skin, so heating of the tissue progresses uniformly, without explosive vaporizations of tissues. The old damaged layer of the epidermis serves as a "protective biological dressing" of the underlying cells and remains in place until the new is formed, and then gradually dies. In addition, it allows to treat the skin of all phototypes and reduces the risk of side effects such as scars, infections and depigmentation. Even in the case of high-energy impact deepithelization is fast and usually completed within 5-7 days after the procedure.

The processes occurring in the dermal layer, longer. Immediately after treatment, was recovering collagen fibers (in those areas where the heating temperature exceeds 60oC) and response to heat shock, then the gradual destruction of damaged structures and the de activation of neocollagenesis and neoelastogenesis. The processes of remodeling of the dermis continue at least 3 months after treatment.

  • Energy processing enables the surface effect on the type of light peeling and provides a lightening and smoothing of the skin and wrinkles. The course consists of 3-4 procedures with an interval in 3 weeks and does not require rehabilitation.
  • Treatments using high energy used for correction of wrinkles, increase elasticity and tightening of the skin (including the skin of the upper and lower eyelids), reduce scars and stretch marks. They are more uncomfortable and are accompanied by a rehabilitation period of 1-2 weeks.

Fractional RF plasma technology

Another use of the special properties of the plasma to conduct anti-aging procedures is the fractional plasma RF technology, introduced in 2010

Special tips of the manipulator (in the form of movable rollers or flat stationary nozzles), a plurality of needle electrodes (spicules). When approaching the surface of the skin for a few micrometers a powerful radio-frequency electric discharge passing through the electrodes, generates a flash of plasma (plasma level of high density).

These flashes "punch" the epidermis and upper dermis layers, forming channels surrounded by a zone of thermal damage. Upon further rotation of the ball (or pressing a stationary nozzle) spicules are pressed into these areas of ablation, providing additional mechanical impact.

The depth and size of damage will be determined by the energy and pulse duration (according to research on the skin of pigs, wells ablation can achieve 50-200 µm in depth and 80-200 µm in diameter, and the zone of coagulation is to spread even 100-200 µm around them). Epithelialization is completed within 3-4 days, the process of remodeling of the dermis can last up to 6 months.

Fractional RF plasma-treatment is recommended for correction of age-related changes (wrinkles, sagging skin, etc.) and to even out skin tone and reduce scarring. In addition, speed of procedures (average of 10 min for 5 passes on the face) allows the use of rollers for processing of large areas of skin for example the abdomen.

Plasma vs. lasers


What are the features of plasma rejuvenation compared to laser, the alternative to which it was originally created?

Unlike lasers, plasma can be used on all skin phototypes. Hyperpigmentation which can occur after procedures, in General, occurs less frequently than in the case of laser processing. Also significantly reduced the risk of infection and scarring.

Demonstrated that2-lasers provide a more uniform depth and diameter of the damage, while in the case of using plasma, these sizes can vary. In addition, lasers provide a more profound effect than plasma. However, it is more than surface effects of plasma treatment can be one of the reasons a lesser risk of inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

With regard to the effectiveness of the procedures, it was conducted a direct comparison of the plasma fractional RF and fractional technology WITH2laser to eliminate acne scars. One side of the face patients (there were 33 people with III and IV skin types) processed with plasma, another laser, 3 treatments each. The depth of damage in the first case ranged from 120 to 150 microns and a diameter of 150-180 µm were. Fractional WITH2-laser-formed damage with a depth of 300-400 microns and a diameter of 100-120 microns. Zone of thermal damage around the ablation pit was wider in the case of plasma.

Both methods are practically equivalent and significantly reduced the severity of acne scars — from 51.1 ± 14.2 to 22,3 ± 8,6 in the case of a plasma (an improvement of 56.4%) and from 48.8 ± of 15.1 to 19.9 ± 7.9 and for the co2-laser (improvement of 59.2%) on a scale of ESSA. At the same time in response to laser treatment in 12 patients (36,4%) developed post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and by plasma treatment of the complications were recorded.

Thus, the plasma allows you to fight pigmentation, even out texture and skin tone and, in fact, is equivalent to the non-ablative lasers. High-energy plasma, in turn, helps to fight the more serious defects, such as wrinkles, reduced elasticity and firmness, as well as pitted acne scars and stretch marks, but the depth of impact is restricted to the upper layers of the dermis (in the case of lasers, the depth of the thermal zones can be more than 1 mm).

Although plasma rejuvenation carries a lower risk of side effects and requires less recovery time, the effectiveness of ablative lasers remains higher. However, these procedures may be the procedures of choice for patients with dark skin types because they significantly reduced the risk of inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In addition, the technology of using plasma to develop, and now appears a growing number of promising devices with new properties that allow them to get away from the comparison with the "younger brother" of lasers and occupy a separate niche.

The modern market of plasma technologies

The main difference between the serious professional plasma welding machines from portable devices for home and salon use is the control over the depth and degree of damage to the skin. This is an extremely important aspect, allowing to obtain predictable results and reduce risks of unwanted side effects.

The number of new devices that exploit the capabilities of the plasma is increasing every year. There are even portable devices that use the energy of the plasma in salon and home. However, it should be noted that they are modes of influence, in which there is no possibility to change neither the strength nor the depth nor the processing time, which raises questions regarding their efficacy and safety.

At the same time, the developers of professional machines, conversely, focus their efforts on improving the devices and creating a more controlled technologies to obtain an expected and stable results.

Interest in plasma technology is growing — is confirmed by a large number of devices that appear on the market in recent years. Plasma rejuvenation provides softer impact than ablative lasers, however, are accompanied by fewer adverse effects and is becoming more controllable. An additional advantage is the possibility to use plasma for the treatment of dark skin phototypes.

Besides, there are cosmetic devices that generate low-temperature cold plasma that significantly enhances the prospects of using plasma technologies and suggests their increased popularity in the future.