Currently, in order to reshape cartilage such as that within the nose, incisions and subsequent sutures are typically required. Not only is the procedure invasive, but it can also result in scarring. Now, however, scientists have demonstrated a new method of cartilage-reshaping that requires no cutting.
First of all, there already is a procedure in which an infrared laser is used to heat up cartilage, making it malleable enough to be molded into the desired shape. According to the University of California-Irvine’s Dr. Brian Wong, however, the process is expensive, plus it’s difficult the heat the cartilage sufficiently without killing it.
Seeking a better alternative, his team joined forces with Dr. Michael Hill from Los Angeles-based Occidental College.
The researchers ultimately developed a technique that they call “molecular surgery,” which begins with tiny needles being inserted into the cartilage. These are used to pass an electrical current through the tissue. This electrolyzes water present in the cartilage, converting it into oxygen and hydrogen ions – the latter are also known as protons.