Short-term effects of vacuum massage on epidermal and dermal thickness and density in burn scars : an experimental studyShort-term effects of vacuum massage on epidermal and dermal thickness and density in burn scars : an experimental study
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Research group
Antwerp Surgical Training, Anatomy and Research Centre (ASTARC)
Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy (REVAKI)
Publication type
Human medicine
Source (journal)
Burns & trauma. - 2013, currens
4(2016), 9 p.
Article Reference
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
University of Antwerp
Background Vacuum massage is a non-invasive mechanical massage technique invented to treat burns and scars. To date, no effects of vacuum massage on thickness and density of human scar tissue have been reported. The process in which external stimuli are converted into biochemical responses in the cell is known as mechanotransduction. In the skin endothelial cells, fibroblasts and myofibroblasts embedded in the extracellular matrix (ECM) sense mechanical stimuli (created by vacuum massage) and may promote intracellular processes leading to matrix remodelling. Since mechanotransduction could be a plausible working mechanism for vacuum massage as an anti-scarring therapy, this study aims to investigate the short-term effects of vacuum massage on thickness and density of epidermis and dermis in burn scars in order to find proof of ECM remodelling. Methods A one group experimental study was performed. Patients with burn scars on upper extremities, lower extremities, and trunk were recruited for participation in this study. The DUB®cutis 22 MHz ultrasound scanner was used to assess thickness and density of the epidermal and dermal skin layers. After baseline measurements, vacuum massage was performed according to a pre-defined protocol. Measurements were carried out at 5 min, 30 min, 1 h, and 2 h post-intervention. Results Thirteen scar sites from 9 different patients were investigated. In 8 out of the 13 scar sites, a disruption of the epidermis was noticed after the vacuum massage. Five minutes after the intervention, epidermal density decreased statistically significantly (p = .022) and dermal thickness increased (p = .018). Both changes lasted for more than 1 h, but after 2 h, the changes were no longer statistically significant. Dermal density decreased significantly (p = .048) immediately after the intervention, and this decrease was still present after 2 h (p = .011). Conclusions Preliminary results show that the disruption of the epidermis may indicate that vacuum massage could be able to actually breach the skin barrier. The statistically significant changes in the dermal layers could suggest an increased ECM production after vacuum massage.
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