If acne wasn’t bad enough already it can often leave scars on the face which can, in some cases, last a lifetime. Fortunately severe disfigurement as a result of acne is rare, but unfortunately there isn’t a huge amount that can be done about it. A paper published last month shows that at least some work is being done to overcome this problem.
The treatment is an injection of PMMA-collagen into the affected area. PMMA is short for polymethylmethacrylate which is a synthetic polymer. The paper only gives the results and doesn’t talk about how it works. But I imagine that they have come up with a space filling polymer that pulls water into itself. If so, when injected it would swell up to fill in gaps in the skin and give it a smoother appearance.
It sounds like a very effective treatment because it only took a couple of injections and the effects were still there six months later. This is very different to a botox injection which has a distinctly temporary effect. Collagen on its own is used by plastic surgeons for various implants, but being a natural protein the body treats it like any other protein and breaks it down. So the inclusion of a synthetic polymer is a good way to make the injection last longer.
The use for acne scars is a valuable and important one, but this does sound like something that might one day have further applications. You might need to do some work on the delivery and the nature of the polymer, but it might be possible to use the same general technique on laughter lines or crows feet or other areas where wrinkling is pronounced. I don’t think it would do much for more general wrinkles sadly, as these are more to do with an overall loss of elasticity.
But is good to know that this sort of research is going on. This kind of paper is usually only one stage in a much bigger project and PMMA might well start appearing in other applications soon.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Apr 8. pii: S0190-9622(14)01151-7. A double-blind, randomized, multicenter, controlled trial of suspended polymethylmethacrylate microspheres for the correction of atrophic facial acne scars. Karnik J, Baumann L, Bruce S, Callender V, Cohen S, Grimes P, Joseph J, Shamban A, Spencer J, Tedaldi R, Werschler WP, Smith SR.