Near infrared light to measure skin depth for medical procedures

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A non-invasive approach to measuring skin thickness using near infrared light has been developed by Japanese researchers.

Skin thickness is an important skin property in cosmetology, dermatology and pharmaceutical science. Changes that markedly affect aesthetics, such as wrinkles, sagging and skin elasticity are the result of physiological changes in the epidermis and dermis layers. This novel application of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy offers skin specialists the ability to monitor skin for medical and cosmetic purposes in a cost-effective and harmless manner. The standard error associated with measuring the total skin thickness using the NIR technique was 25µm.

Researcher Dr Miyamae said: ’Determining the dermal and epidermal thickness is important for general aesthetics, the use of cosmetics and drugs, optimally positioning skin grafts, and effective massage. Since you can also detect early signs of pathological skin thickening, it is possible to use this knowledge to offer preventative treatment.’

Miyamae works for Japanese company Pola Chemical Industries. Measuring the structural conditions of the epidermis and dermis has, until now, only been possible using complex methods and has required cumbersome equipment. Scientists from Kwansei-Gakuin University’s school of science and technology also participated in the research. The results have been published in the peer-review Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy.