Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Facelift complications eased with help of new 3-D imaging technique

Millions of people each year remove wrinkles, soften creases and plump up their lips by injecting a gel-like material into their facial tissue. These cosmetic procedures are sometimes called “liquid facelifts” and are said to be minimally invasive.

It’s rare, but sometimes things go wrong. In a matter of minutes, patients’ skin can turn red or blotchy white and the injected area becomes painful. Vital blood supply to the face is restricted and if untreated, parts of the tissue will die. That scenario is irreversible and can leave deep scars.

Siavash Yousefi, U of Washington

This image shows a mouse ear after a successful cosmetic filler injection. The filler, in green, rests in the tissue without blocking the blood vessels and veins.

Physicians haven’t been able to pinpoint why this happens because until now it was difficult to see how the injected fluid, or filler, behaves in facial tissue.

New imaging technology from University of Washington engineers allows scientists to analyze what happens within the smallest blood vessels during an injection. This finding could be used to prevent accidents during procedures and help clinicians reverse the ill effects if an injection doesn’t go as planned.

“Filler-induced tissue death can be a really devastating complication for the patient and provider,” said Shu-Hong (Holly) Chang, a UW assistant professor of ophthalmology specializing in plastic and reconstructive surgery. “This noninvasive imaging technique provides far better detail than I’ve ever seen before and helped us figure out why this is happening.”

Using this technology, Chang and her team saw that complications arose when filler was inadvertently injected into the bloodstream rather than in the intended soft tissues of the face. The gel builds up in a vessel, blocking blood movement and oxygen exchange. The team tested this in the ears of mice, which offer a model of what can happen in the blood vessels of a human face, Chang said.

She presented the results in November at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showing that filler injections into blood vessels are most likely the cause of tissue death and other complications associated with the cosmetic procedure.

Ruikang Wang, a UW professor of bioengineering, and his lab pioneered this fine-resolution imaging, called optical microangiography. It can turn out 3-D images of the body’s vascular network by shining a light onto the tissue without touching it or adding any fluorescent dyes.

“We can visualize how blood responds to the cosmetic filler gel, even looking at the responses of each individual vessel. No other technique can provide this level of scrutiny,” Wang said.

The optical imaging technique operates on the same concept as ultrasound, which leverages changes in sound to detect structures. This technique instead uses light to repeatedly scan tissue cross-sections, delineating unmoving pieces (surrounding tissues) from moving segments (blood cells in vessels). Researchers compare image frames and piece together the complex visual web.

This technology can see blood vessels as small as 5 microns in diameter. Capillaries, the smallest vessels in our bodies, are about 7 microns in diameter and a red blood cell is usually 3 to 5 microns wide.

“Our niche is imaging the microvascular system,” said team member Siavash Yousefi, a UW graduate student in bioengineering. Other applications of the technology include analyzing how wounds heal, tracking what happens during strokes and traumatic brain injuries, and imaging human eyes to study diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Cosmetic filler procedures have surged worldwide in recent years, particularly in Europe and Asia. In 2012 in the U.S. about 2 million procedures were performed. Up to 800 patients reportedly suffered serious complications, including potentially permanent disfigurement.

During the procedure, a practitioner injects the gel-like solution, often a natural substance called hyaluronic acid, multiple times into a person’s face. Restriction of blood to the tissues, called ischemia, often doesn’t show up until later, when the patient develops pain and sees changes on the surface of the skin, meaning the tissue is dying.

Some practitioners suggest using massage and warm compresses to treat the area, while others tell patients to take aspirin, but the field doesn’t have a standard course of action for treating these complications, Chang said. She has been called in for several emergencies to treat other practitioners’ patients who show signs of a failed procedure. This can lead to tissue death and even blindness if the affected area is near the eyes.

With this new understanding, practitioners can try to reverse the effect of vascular blockage by injecting an enzyme that dissolves hyaluronic acid fillers. The research team is now testing all types of available cosmetic fillers to see if their results hold on each brand and evaluating new treatments for reversing procedure complications.

“Our lab is trying to develop novel and clinically useful biomedical imaging techniques for early diagnosis, treatment and management of human diseases. Using this technology to better understand facelift complications is a perfect example that fulfills this mission,” Wang said.

The research was funded in part by the organization Research to Prevent Blindness and a Latham Vision Research Innovation Award.

For more information, contact Yousefi at or 541-602-9592; Chang at or 206-897-4611; and Wang at or 206-616-5025.

Michelle Ma | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>