A new second skin based on a double polymer technique has been invented at MIT. As an oculoplastic surgeon who performs primarily surgery around the eyes and eyelids, I immediately thought of the applications of this in oculoplastic surgery. These are just ideas based on the current tested uses for second skin but show the exciting potential uses for it in my practice in Denver.
1. Temporary cosmetic improvement of lower eyelid bags and wrinkles
As discussed by one of the researchers, the second skin has the ability to tighten the skin by adding a layer of tensile strength to the skin. In lower eyelid bags this can be very helpful to a certain extent. That being said, if there is enough fat pushing forward strengthening the skin is not going to solve the problem. Remember lower eyelid fat is from fat behind the eye in the orbit that pushes forward with time. Making the skin stronger may hold it back better but up to a certain extent.
Theoretically, second skin could be used for crows feet and other thin skin areas where wrinkles arise.
2. Delivering medications to skin
Second skin in the eyelid can also be helpful to deliver medications to the eyelid. For example in patients who need steroids to the eyelid or antibiotic ointment the second skin may be able to slowly deliver these medications without creating a gooey mess.
3. Reducing scar formation after blepharoplasty
After blepharoplasty in the upper or lower eyelids, there is a skin wound. Second skin may help to keep the wound edges together making stitches unnecessary. Additionally it could be used along with stitches to hold the wound together better to reduce scar formation. If the second skin dissolves away with time, this would be useful in that no stitches need to be removed.
4. Treatment for eyelid burns
When eyelid skin gets burned the skin is raw and open. In that situation, the skin can be an access point for bacteria to infect it. Second skin may be useful to serve as a barrier until the wound heals completely. Further research would have to be done to make sure it didn’t impair healing in anyway in this situation.
5. Blocking tear ducts to help dry eye patients
If the second skin is applied as a cream or gel, it could serve as a temporary blocker of the tear duct system, allowing patients with dry eyes relieve by blocking the tear ducts and allowing more tears on the surface on the eye.
As can be seen, there are many different uses for MIT’s second skin to be used in oculoplastic surgery and treatment of eyelid conditions. When the product is released, many off label uses will be attempted to maximize the uses of this new development.