Polymer skin coating improves wrinkles

July 1, 2005

New Orleans — A new polymer-based skin coating technology appears to help smooth wrinkles in hands when combined with vitamin E for overnight use.

New Orleans - A new polymer-based skin coating technology appears to help smooth wrinkles in hands when combined with vitamin E for overnight use.

In a recent double-blinded test involving 67 patients, all but one of them female, the product Skincerity (Epikeia) achieved an increase (improvement) in wrinkle spacing in 67 percent of subjects.

"The product is applied as a liquid, and it dries (in 15 to 30 seconds) to form a very thin film on the skin. We can incorporate a variety of active ingredients into the product and deliver them through the film," says Gregg Siegel, M.S., Biomedical Development Corp., of which Epikeia is an affiliate.

Adheres to skin "Because the product is not a cream or an ointment," Mr. Siegel says, "it will adhere to the skin for an extended period of time. The longer the product is in contact with the skin, the longer we can deliver the drug."

How long the polymer remains in place depends on the body location where it's placed and the condition of the skin to which it is applied.

"If you have very dry skin," he explains, "it tends to adhere longer. In general, it will last anywhere from 18 to 24 hours."

Researchers chose to test the material on patients' hands because hands are considered much more difficult to treat than faces. To achieve as broad-based a sample as possible, researchers set no exclusion or inclusion criteria based on pre-existing wrinkles.

"Several of the subjects had no wrinkling to start with," Mr. Siegel says. "So our results are probably more impressive than what the data shows. If a patient has no wrinkling before the study, it's not going to show any improvement."

Study details Researchers instructed subjects to apply the product to their left hand before bedtime and to remove it the following morning. To gauge results, researchers took skin impressions at baseline and after three months' treatment. For this process, they used a low-viscosity, hydrophilic dental impression material (Splash, Discus Dental), applied between the thumb and forefinger. From these negative impressions, they made positive replicates using a low viscosity epoxy.

Researchers then used a profilometer (Surtronic 3+, Taylor Hobson) to gauge the surface texture of the epoxy replicates. They recorded six parameters - five vertical, one horizontal - by means of a stylus that traveled across the replicates' surfaces and converted up-and-down movements into electrical signals.

"The most important result was that in 90 days, we found a significant spacing increase - 100 µ, which is visibly detectable - between wrinkle peaks (P=0.015)," Mr. Siegel says.

The average subject achieved a 19 percent improvement in spacing between wrinkles, although improvements of this type ranged up to 200 percent. Of the 67 percent of subjects who showed an improvement in wrinkle spacing, the average improvement was 39 percent.

At the same time, average size of wrinkle peaks changed by only 10 percent, a statistically significant but probably imperceptible change. Other benefits observed by researchers included improved skin tone and reduced pore size.

Mechanism of action Although the polymer coating's mechanism of action remains incompletely understood, researchers surmise that it promotes improved skin barrier function by mediating transepidermal water loss at night. Other possible sources of the product's efficacy include the topical delivery of vitamin E and the mild exfoliation that occurs when the coating is removed.

The test came about after subjective observations on a single patient who used the preparation to treat a scar suggested that the product had a powerful anti-wrinkle effect.