Electroporation or virtual mesotherapy consists of the safe introduction of active ingredients into the skin by means of electrical pulses. It is a very effective way to achieve advanced skin results.

What is electroporation?

This is the short form, but technically what is electroporation? It is the controlled application of high voltage electrical pulses, achieving the momentary opening of pores in the lipid bilayer of cell membranes and aqueous channels in the intercellular spaces.

This opening allows the introduction of actives of molecular sizes hundreds of times larger than those we could introduce in a conventional topical way.

Depending on the pulse applied, we are able to open pores in the stratum corneum, intercellular channels in the epidermis and dermis, as well as achieve pores in the cell membranes to introduce the active ingredients into them.

This mechanism is reversible and transient, so that after a short period of time the cell membrane returns to its initial state.

What is electroporation used for?

When we apply this technology on the skin, with the electroporator, we achieve the opening of pores in the cells of the different layers and the temporary separation of the junctions between cells, creating aqueous channels.

It is a technique that allows the administration of drugs or other compounds through the skin.

Electroporation in medicine

This technique is used in laboratories of molecular biology, genomics, etc., both in vivo and in vitro, for uses such as genetic manipulation and cellular DNA modification. It is a common procedure for the introduction of genes into cultured cells, tumor treatment and gene therapy.

Transdermal electroporation has been used to deliver drugs that would otherwise be difficult to deliver through the skin, such as some types of proteins or drugs with low bioavailability. It has also been used for the introduction of vaccines.

Aesthetic electroporation

In the field of aesthetic medicine and adapted to a cutaneous application, the electrical pulses thus generate two routes of introduction, transcellular and intercellular, both through the epidermis and via the transfollicular and transudoriparous routes.

Transcellular penetration occurs by permeabilizing the skin through the applied pulses, which causes an electrorotation of the lipids with the consequent momentary opening of pores in the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane.

On the other hand, at the same time, the diffusion of the active ingredient through intercellular channels takes place, which consists of the generation of intercellular aqueous channels, allowing the direct passage of the active ingredients into the interior.

Both phenomena occur in the same way through the walls of the pilosebaceous ducts and sweat glands, thus achieving a large introduction of active ingredients.

Thus, transdermal electroporation by high-voltage pulses has established itself as the most effective method for the introduction of active ingredients into the skin, both in terms of the amount of active ingredient introduced and the diversity of the active ingredient that can be introduced.

So aesthetic electroporation can be used to achieve skin rejuvenation, remove blemishes, reduce cellulite or eliminate localized fat.

Benefits of electroporation

Electroporation can be used in different treatments to reduce inflammation, stimulate collagen synthesis and enhance skin regeneration.

It must be clear that this is a secure technology. It does not circulate electric current, can be used in people with prosthesis and is perfect for those who are afraid of needles.

Electroporation can be used for facial, body and hair treatments, both aesthetic and medical. Depending on the treatment to be performed, an appropriately formulated product is used for this use, being able to achieve very important results in an infinite number of indications, both for any aesthetic use (wrinkles, spots, flaccidity, etc.) and at dermatological and medical level.

  • Facial electroporation: for the face, eye contour, lips and neck area, using the right actives with electroporation can help to attenuate expression lines, alleviate forehead wrinkles and the small lines that are created in the upper part of the mouth. It is also effective against sun spots. We can rejuvenate the skin and reduce wrinkles on the neck and décolleté.
  • Body electroporation: with electroporation it is possible to act on stretch marks, localized fat, flaccidity and work on body modeling.
  • Capillary electroporation: by means of the electroporator we can introduce active ingredients into the scalp and activate circulation.

Electroporation versus other treatments

There are other types of electroporation that, as you will now see, do not achieve the same results:

  • Low-energy radiofrequency electroporation: equipment that seeks to generate electroporation by alternating current at 1 Mhz with very low intensity. Slightly increases skin permeability by electrorotation but does not generate electroporation. They are easily identified by their thermoplastic insulated applicator.
  • Electroporation by electrophoresis (iontophoresis): different currents are combined but the main one is a galvanic current, which requires the product to have polarity and its result is very limited. They are usually presented in roll-on format with a separate return electrode.
  • Injected mesotherapy: electroporation and injected mesotherapy use in a similar way the characteristics of the active ingredients to achieve improvement effects on the treated skin areas. Transdermal electroporation is also known as virtual mesotherapy, probably because of its similarity to injection.
    It should be noted that electroporation is painless and non-invasive compared to injected mesotherapy. The fact that it does not use needles means that it can be applied by aesthetic professionals, without the need for a doctor.

How to identify electroporation?

In order to identify electroporation, we must take into account that it will always have a bipolar application with direct metallic electrodes, for the correct transmission of the electrical pulses to the skin.

High voltage should be perceived on dry contact, being desirable that its application with product is not annoying.

How many sessions are necessary?

The answer to this question will depend, as always, on the type of skin, the client’s age and previous care. However, it is usual to undergo between 10 and 20 sessions.

The professional will decide, based on these conditions, how many times the electroporator should be used on the skin. As it is non-invasive, its application is very fast.

Which assets can be electroporated?

As mentioned above, with electroporation it is possible to introduce actives with a much greater weight than any other treatment. In this way, we could, for example, introduce hyaluronic acid, which is one of the most widely used active ingredients with the highest molecular weight.

Contraindications to electroporation

Electroporation is a very safe technology that should not produce adverse effects, not even small wounds such as those produced by injected mesotherapy. At most, it could produce redness or mild inflammation of the skin.

However, it is advisable to avoid applying electroporation in pregnant women and with people who use pacemakers.

Commitment to quality

This text on transdermal electroporation was written by professional editors and reviewed by Sisneo’s medical-aesthetic team. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.

At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. And to update or correct it as soon as new knowledge becomes available.

Among others, we have used the following references:

  • Jingjing Jiang, Stephanie J. Ramos, Preeti Bangalore, Paul Fisher, Kristine Germar, Brian K. Lee, Dan Williamson, Andrea Kemme, Eric Schade, Jay McCoy, Kar Muthumani, David B. Weiner, Laurent M. Humeau, Kate E. Broderick. «Integration of needle-free jet injection with advanced electroporation delivery enhances the magnitude, kinetics, and persistence of engineered DNA vaccine induced immune responses» en Vaccine vol. 37, issue 29, 3832-3839.
  • Takahiko Tamura y Tsuneaki Sakata. «Application of in vivo electroporation to cancer gene therapy» en Current Gene Therapy 2003 Feb;3(1):59-64.
  • Johnson C. Lee, Mark A. Daniels, Malcolm Z. Roth. «Mesotherapy, microneedling, and chemical peels» en Clinics in Plastic Surgery 2016 Jul;43(3):583-95.
  • Anna-Karin Roos, Fredrik Eriksson, James A. Timmons, Josefine Gerhardt, Ulrika Nyman, Lindvi Gudmundsdotter, Andreas Bråve, Britta Wahren y Pavel Pisa. «Skin electroporation: effects on transgene expression, DNA persistence and local tissue environment» en Plos One 2009 Sep 30;4(9):e7226.