Cold plasma therapy is an innovative skin treatment utilizing the unique effects of cold plasma on skin cells and physiology. Research shows that cold plasma can improve a variety of dermatological conditions thanks to its multifaceted mechanisms of action. In this article, we will look at some common skin issues that may be effectively treated with cold plasma therapy.
What is Cold Plasma Therapy?
Cold plasma refers to partially ionized gas containing a cocktail of ions, electrons, reactive oxygen species, and UV photons. It is generated by applying energy to gases like nitrogen and oxygen under controlled conditions. This ionization of the gas particles is how the “cold plasma” state is produced.
When applied to the skin surface, cold plasma creates temporary nanopores in cell membranes, allowing direct entry of the plasma components into cells. This alters cell signaling, metabolism, proliferation, and gene expression locally. Plasma also has antibacterial effects.
These changes stimulate beneficial processes like collagen synthesis, cell turnover, and angiogenesis in the skin tissue. As a result, cold plasma improves skin issues stemming from cellular dysfunction, inflammation, infection, and aging.
Skin Conditions Improved by Cold Plasma
Research indicates that cold plasma therapy can help treat the following skin problems:
The main mechanisms by which plasma aids acne treatment are:
- Killing acne-causing bacteria like Propionibacterium acnes through its sterilizing reactive oxygen species and UV light. This helps reduce infection and inflammation.
- Normalizing excessive sebum production by sebaceous glands. The plasma ions and electrons influence sebum secreting cells.
- Speeding up epidermal turnover to unclog follicles faster.
Small clinical studies reveal that regular cold plasma treatments reduce both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions. Plasma also effectively prevents new acne breakouts (Zhai et al. 2022: Zhang et al. 2023).
- Scars and wound repair
For wound healing and scar reduction, plasma’s effects include:
- Stimulating fibroblast proliferation and migration to remodelling scar tissue. Fibroblasts produce collagen responsible for repair (Zhai et al. 2022; Jung et al. 2023).
- Increasing collagen and elastin synthesis to soften and smooth out scar texture (Jung et al. 2023).
- Promoting new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) to improve blood supply and nourish scar tissue (Busco et al. 2020).
- Accelerating cell turnover to fade discoloration.
In studies, cold plasma used with microneedling enhanced results for acne scars and surgical or trauma scars compared to microneedling alone.
Excess melanin production by melanocytes causes uneven pigmentation in conditions like:
- Solar lentigines (sun spots)
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Cold plasma’s melanocyte regulating abilities help by:
- Directly inhibiting tyrosinase – the enzyme controlling melanin synthesis.
- Altering signalling proteins that stimulate pigment production.
- Accelerating cell turnover to swiftly remove pigmented lesions.
Research indicates combining plasma with topical depigmenting agents provides better improvement in melasma and related disorders (Yousefi et al. 2023).
- Skin Aging
For sagging, wrinkled skin needing rejuvenation, plasma remodels and regenerates skin in multiple ways:
- Boosting fibroblast proliferation and collagen production.
- Increasing elastin synthesis for firmness and elasticity.
- Improving epidermal thickness and barrier function.
- Stimulating new blood vessel growth for better nourishment.
- Generating overall tissue remodelling with matrix proteins.
In clinical studies, skin tightening and smoothing effects are observed after successive plasma sessions. Fine lines and wrinkles also diminish visibly (Bogle et al. 2007; Fitzpatrick et al. 2008; Kongpanichakul et al. 2021; Shakouri et al. 2022).
- Skin Texture Issues and psoriasis
Skin texture problems like enlarged pores, bumpy texture, excessive skin production (e.g in psoriasis) and uneven tone can be helped by:
- Exfoliating and thinning the outer skin layers through accelerated cell turnover.
- Improving collagen levels for plumping and smoothing skin.
- Enhancing epidermal thickness and hydration.
Cold plasma renews upper skin layers for refined, even texture. It also allows better penetration of topical treatments (Bogle et al. 2007; Leduc et al. 2009; Lee et al. 2017; Tan et al. 2022).
- Skin Laxity
Loss of elasticity and sagging skin anywhere on the face and body can be improved with cold plasma by:
- Stimulating fibroblast proliferation and activity to synthesize matrix proteins like collagen.
- Increasing collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid levels in the dermis.
- Improving structural support for sagging skin.
Repeated plasma sessions have some skin tightening ability for mild to moderate laxity. It can also be used before more invasive tightening procedures (Bogle et al. 2007; Kongpanichakul et al. 2021; Shakouri et al. 2021).
Cold plasma therapy is emerging as a promising treatment technique for various chronic skin disorders and aesthetic conditions. The multitude of positive effects it elicits on skin cells and connective tissue components enables it to address common issues like acne, scarring, pigmentation, aging, and texture irregularities.
Used alone or with complementary therapies like microneedling, chemical peels, and laser treatments, cold plasma improves complexion and rejuvenates skin through its tissue regenerating, renewing, and antiseptic effects.
With more research elucidating optimal protocols for different skin types and conditions, cold plasma therapy is poised to become a staple in dermatology and aesthetic clinics in the future. Here at London & Surrey Aesthetics, we are at the cutting edge of providing these technologies for patients to help improve their skin, therefore improving their confidence and well-being. Why not book a consultation now!
Bogle et al. (2007). Evaluation of plasma skin regeneration technology in low-energy full-facial rejuvenation. Archives Dermatology. 143:168–174
Busco et al. (2020). The emerging potential of cold atmospheric plasma in skin biology. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 161, 290-304.
Fitzpatrick et al. (2008). A histopathologic evaluation of the plasma skin regeneration system (PSR) versus a standard carbon dioxide resurfacing laser in an animal model. Lasers Surg Med, 40:93–99.
Jung et al. (2023). Cold Plasma Treatment Promotes Full-thickness Healing of Skin Wounds in Murine Model. The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds, 22, 77-84.
Kongpanichakul et al. (2021). Efficacy of Low-temperature Plasma for Treatment of Facial Rejuvenation in Asian Population. PRS Global Open, https://doi.org/10.1097/GOX.0000000000003812
Leduc et al. (2009). Cell permeabilization using a non-thermal plasma, New J. Phys. 11 (11) 115021, https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/11/11/115021.
Lee et al. (2017). Non-thermal atmospheric plasma ameliorates imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like skin inflammation in mice through inhibition of immune responses and up-regulation of PD-L1 expression. Scientific Reports, 7, 15564. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15725-7
Lee et al. (2022). Effects of Human Fibroblast-Derived Multi-Peptide Factors on the Proliferation and Migration of Nitrogen Plasma-Treated Human Dermal Fibroblasts. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 15, 2465-2475.
Shakouri et al. (2021). In vivo study of the effects of a portable cold plasma device and vitamin C for skin rejuvenation. Scientific Reports, 11: 21915.
Tan et al. (2022). Plasma Dermatology: Skin Therapy using cold atmospheric plasma: Review. Frontiers in Oncology, 12: 918484.
Yousefi et al. (2023). Split-face comparison of hydroquinone 4% plus nitrogen plasma vs hydroquinone 4% alone in the treatment of melasma. Lasers in medical science. 38, 113 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-023-03757-7
Zhai et al. (2022) Cold atmospheric plasma ameliorates skin disease involving reactive oxygen/nitrogen species-mediated functions. Frontiers in Immunology, 13, 868386.
Zhang et al. (2023). Mechanisms of bacterial inhibition and tolerance around cold atmospheric plasma. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 107, 5301–5316