Ultrasound can accelerate skin healing: study

London: Low-intensity ultrasound can reduce healing times for skin ulcers and bedsores by a third, especially in diabetics and elderly, scientists have found.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield, the University of Bristol and other researchers found the ultrasound transmits a vibration through the skin and wakes up cells in wounds helping to stimulate and accelerate the healing process.

The ultrasound treatment, which also reduces the chance of wounds getting infected, is particularly effective when treating diabetics and the elderly.

There are 11 million over-65s, three million diabetics, and 10 million smokers in the UK - all of whom are likely to suffer problems with healing wounds, researchers said.

A quarter of diabetics suffer from skin ulcers, particularly foot ulcers, due to the loss of sensation and circulation in the legs.

"Skin ulcers are excruciatingly painful for patients and in many cases can only be resolved by amputation of the limb," said lead author of the study Dr Mark Bass, from the University of Sheffield's Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics (CMIAD).

"Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process. Because it is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn't carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments," Bass said.

"Now that we have proven the effectiveness of ultrasound we need to explore the signal further. We have found that the ultrasound signal we currently use is effective, but it is possible that by refining the treatment we could improve the effects even further," Bass said.

"Because ultrasound is relatively risk free we could expect to see it in broad clinical use within three or four years," he said.

The study is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 

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