Rhinoplasty may soon go the way of the dodo, as a team of scientists from the University of California have discovered a potential five-minute, non-surgical nose job. According to BBC News, scientists discovered that the secret is using an electric current to temporarily soften cartilage into a malleable form.
Called electromechanical reshaping, or EMR, the process would be done under local anesthetic and works by inserting multiple small needles into cartilage to conduct a current.
“Once the tissue is floppy you can mold it to whatever shape you want,” said Dr. Michael Hill, one of the researchers on the team. The scientists explained that once the tissue has been “molded,” it will then harden and become a permanent change.
The team recently announced their findings at an American Chemical Society conference in Florida.
Though there have been no human trials of the process, they have found success with animals. The researchers wowed the audience with the example of changing the shape of a rabbit’s ears from upright to bent.
As the nose contains a large percentage of cartilage, the group is optimistic that this means that the nose can essentially be reshaped. Other parts of the body that can be targeted, according to Dr. Hill and colleague Professor Brian Wong, include the ears, tendons, and cornea. This means potential hope for many who suffer from tight tendons or vision loss.
However, not everyone is popping the champagne just yet.
“It’s not exactly clear yet how this procedure works. We don’t know if the integrity will hold up and there could be a risk of adverse results,” said Iain Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is a plastic surgeon at Swansea University Medical School, in addition to being a member of the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons.
Dr. Hill himself has pointed out possible issues, such as the possible change in acidity or pH of tissues. He also has recognized that a third of the nose is comprised of bone, so the reshaping would be focused mainly on the nasal tip.
Nose jobs, formally known as rhinoplasty, are the third most common cosmetic procedure in the United States, with 218,924 operations in 2017 alone. Though the average cost is $4,694, prices can be as high as $10,000.
The operation can be performed for multiple health reasons, in addition to cosmetic ones, as deformed nasal passages can lead to serious breathing problems.
Dr. Hill and his colleagues hope that the new procedure will help save patients the pain, cost, and risks of open surgery.