Molecular surgery will allow you to repair cartilage without a scalpel

In plastic surgery, the task of changing hard cartilage, for example, in the nose, has always created a number of difficulties. If you do not cut, do not apply mechanical action, then only warm up the cartilage to soften, and then change its shape. Today, a laser is used for this, but there is always a risk of exceeding the temperature and killing living cells.

A team of two PhDs, Brian Wong and Michael Hill, developed an alternative method of cartilage treatment, which they called "molecular surgery." The task is still the same - you need to soften the cartilage, only now everything happens at the micro level. To begin with, tiny needle electrodes are inserted into the tissue, through which a weak electric current is passed.

The current electrifies the water in the cartilage and it is divided into oxygen and hydrogen ions. The latter have a positive charge, and therefore interact with negatively charged proteins in rigid collagen fibers. The charge density of the fibers decreases, the bonds between them are destroyed, and a pliable mass in the biopolymer shell is obtained. All that remains is to place the soft cartilage in a three-dimensional shape and remove the electric current - electrolysis will stop and the tissue will become rigid again, but with new outlines.

In laboratory experiments, scientists have successfully changed the shape of the cartilage in the ears of experimental rabbits. The procedure is quick, simple and performed under local anesthesia. There is every chance that, in a modified version, the technique can be used to treat any other parts of the body, which are based on collagen. And it is much less traumatic and more convenient than using a scalpel.