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UV damage to skin was indeed severe!

The 27th IFSCC Congress 2012, Johannesburg Congress Award (Podium Presentation, Basic Research Award)

Non-Invasive In Situ Assessment of Structural Alternation of Human Dermis Caused by Photo-Aging Using a Novel Collagen Specific Imaging Technique


What’s new?

We imaged the collagen deep in the skin with a special laser and found it severely damaged by ultraviolet rays!

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays causes sunburn, pigmentation, and wrinkles. However, while sunburn appears immediately on the skin surface and pigmentation occurs in the relatively superficial layer inside the skin, skin problems such as wrinkles and sagging progress deep inside the skin over a long period of time and under the influence of various factors. Even if you are largely exposed to ultraviolet rays for a day or two, such problems do not occur immediately. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand the total impact of ultraviolet rays on the skin. In this research, the collagen found deep in the facial skin was imaged using a special laser. After comparing the collagen in the skin with high and low ultraviolet ray exposure, ultraviolet light appeared to have a considerable impact on the skin.

Skin with low cumulative level of ultraviolet rays exposure Skin with high cumulative level of ultraviolet rays exposure

What’s the technology?

It is actually very difficult to see inside the skin without cutting it. Clear images of collagen obtained with a special laser were praised all over the world!

In general, skin research involves observations inside the skin by cutting it and using a microscope. However, you cannot cut the skin on the face of a living person for research purposes. Thus, the actual research normally uses skin from body parts other than the face; however, not all skin is the same. For example, the skin of the face and arm is different in terms of thickness, melanin content, and collagen content. Therefore, the aim of this research was to enable skin observation with a special laser without incision.
In particular, collagen is located in the dermis, the deep layer of the skin. Images of collagen in a very limited area in the superficial dermis had been available in the past; however, they were not as clear as those taken with this award-winning technology.

Epidermis Dermis Subcutaneous fat

Since this technology required the development of a unique laser device, joint research was conducted with Takeshi Yasui, Visiting Professor at Osaka University and Professor at Tokushima University, who is a leader in this field. Clear images of collagen without incision revealed how much damage collagen receives from ultraviolet radiation. Further research on this topic will be highly beneficial for obtaining information about the skin, such as confirmation of the preventive effect of sunscreen and exploration of the mechanism of wrinkle formation, which has not yet been clarified.

The face is placed on a measuring stand, and the lens is put to motion by a computer. Rapid successive images of the inside of the skin are taken and then joined together to form a panoramic image.