Plasma technology in cosmetology

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

Plasma: what is it?


To understand what are the advantages of using plasma technologies, let's first understand what plasma. Plasma is a gas which, unlike stable gases familiar to us, is not only the neutral molecules, but also include 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 melting. High-temperature plasma are considered to be the "classic" fourth aggregate state of matter;
  • low temperature — with a small degree of ionization (1%). Usually when exposed to gas, electric 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-objectives will depend on the type of the applied plasma dose, flow rate, pressure, exposure time (parameters that can be influenced through modifications of devices), and characteristics of the fabric itself.

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

However, I have to 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 using the ability of the cold of the low temperature plasma to produce free radicals and ultraviolet radiation for disinfection of the human skin, as well as for the treatment of wounds. This effect allows you to kill the antibiotic-resistant microorganisms (especially in nosocomial infections), without damaging the skin itself. Antimicrobial activity of the plasma is confirmed 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 reduction in both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria in wounds.

In addition, it was found that the treatment of wounds, the chill of the low-temperature plasma accelerates their healing. Recent work, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that such plasma stimulates the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes through the activation of β-catenin-signalling pathway and inhibition of 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 have also shown that the cold plasma leads to a temporary reduction of the barrier function of the stratum corneum and enhances the skin permeability of 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 different substances.

Plasma methods in cosmetology


At the beginning of the era of plasma technology in cosmetics is connected with the thermal effects of plasma. Also, plasma rejuvenation methods based on controlled thermal damage of the tissue to begin the regenerative processes and updates tissue. This principle is primary and the other methods for the rejuvenation of the 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, of the surface of the skin, and thus minimize the risk of burns and scars.

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 skin in a contactless manner in the form of short pulses (as a contactless method of treatment allows the skin to quickly cool down and to eliminate the risk of burns from parts of the device). It 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 — the 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, unlike lasers, plasma does not require the presence of chromophores in the skin, so heating of the tissue progresses uniformly, without explosive vaporizations of the tissues. The old damaged layer of the epidermis serves as a "protective biological dressing" of the underlying cells and stays in place, while 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 sores, infections and depigmentation. Even in the case of high-energy impact deepithelization is quick and usually complete within 5-7 days after the procedure.

The processes that occur in the dermal layer, much longer. Immediately after the treatment, was the recovery of the collagen fibers (in those areas where the heating temperature exceeds 60oC) and response to heat shock, then gradually the destruction of damaged structures and de-activation of neocollagenesis and neoelastogenesis. The processes of remodelling of the dermis continue for 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 are used for the correction of wrinkles, increase the elasticity and tightening of the skin (including the skin of the upper and lower eyelids), reduction of 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 conveyor 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 strokes "stroke" of the epidermis and upper dermis layers, forming channels surrounded by a zone of thermal damage. After the completion of the rotation of the ball (or pressing a stationary nozzle) spicules are pressed in these areas of retinal detachment, the provision of additional mechanical impact.

The depth and size of damage will be determined by the energy and the pulse duration (according to the research of the skin of pigs, the wells detachment can be achieved 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 remodelling 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 yes, even out skin tone and reduce scarring. In addition, the speed of the procedures (an average of 10 minutes to 5 passes of the face) allows the use of rollers for the processing of large areas of skin for example the abdomen.

Plasma vs lasers


What are characteristics of plasma rejuvenation in comparison with the laser, the alternative which was originally created?

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

Showed that the2-lasers provide a more uniform depth and diameter of the damage, while in the case of using the plasma, these sizes can vary. In addition, lasers provide a more big impact from the plasma. However, it is more than the surface effects of the plasma treatment can be one of the reasons the lower risk of inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In terms of the efficiency of the procedures, it was conducted with 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 the damage in the first case ranges 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. The zone of thermal damage around the ablation pit was wider in the case of plasma.

Both methods are almost equivalent and significantly reduce the intensity 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 ± from 15.1 to 19.9 ± 7.9, and for co2-laser (improvement of which represent 59.2%) on a scale of ESSA. At the same time, in response to the laser treatment in 12 patients (36,4%) developed post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and with the 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 equal 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 heating zones may 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 reduce 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" lasers and occupy a special 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 extent of damage to the skin. This is an extremely important point, allowing to obtain more predictable results and reduce risks from side effects.

The number of new devices that take advantage of the capabilities of the plasma increases each year. There are even portable devices that use the energy of the plasma in the salon and at home. However, it should be noted that they are ways of influence, in which there is no possibility to change neither the strength, nor the depth, nor the processing time, which raises the question in terms of their effectiveness and safety.

At the same time, the developers of the professional machines, conversely, focus their efforts for improvement of the devices and the creation of more controlled technologies to get the expected and stable results.

Interest in plasma technology is on the rise — is confirmed by a large number of devices that appear on the market in recent years. Plasma rejuvenation provides a softer impact of the ablative lasers, however, is accompanied with less side effects and becomes more to control. An additional advantage is the possibility to use plasma for the treatment of dark skin phototypes.

In addition, there are cosmetic devices that produce low-temperature cold plasma, which significantly enhances the possibilities for the use of plasma technologies and indicates their increased popularity in the future.