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Nanotechnology in Plastic Surgery

Ibrahim, Ahmed M. S. M.D.; Gerstle, Theodore L. M.D.; Rabie, Amr N. M.D.; Song, Yong-Ak Ph.D.; Melik, Rohat Ph.D.; Han, Jongyoon Ph.D.; Lin, Samuel J. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: December 2012 - Volume 130 - Issue 6 - p 879e–887e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31826da023
Special Topics

Background: Nanotechnology has made inroads over time within surgery and medicine. Translational medical devices and therapies based on nanotechnology are being developed and put into practice. In plastic surgery, it is anticipated that this new technology may be instrumental in the future. Microelectromechanical systems are one form of nanotechnology that offers the ability to develop miniaturized implants for use in the treatment of numerous clinical conditions. The authors summarize their published preliminary findings regarding a microelectromechanical systems–based electrochemical stimulation method through modulation of ions around the nerve that is potentially implantable and clinically efficacious, and expand upon current and potential usages of nanotechnology in plastic surgery.

Methods: Sciatic nerves (n = 100) of 50 American bullfrogs were placed on a microfabricated planar gold electrode array and stimulated electrically. Using Ca2+-selective membranes, ion concentrations were modulated around the nerve environment in situ. In addition, a comprehensive review of the literature was performed to identify all available data pertaining to the use of nanotechnology in medicine.

Results: A 40 percent reduction of the electrical threshold value was observed using the Ca2+ ion–selective membrane. The uses of nanotechnology specifically applicable to plastic surgery are detailed.

Conclusions: Nanotechnology may likely lead to advancements in the art and science of plastic surgery. Using microelectromechanical systems nanotechnology, the authors have demonstrated a novel means of modulating the activation of nerve impulses. These findings have potentially significant implications for the design of special nano-enhanced materials that can be used to promote healing, control infection, restore function, and aid nerve regeneration and rehabilitation.

Boston and Cambridge, Mass.

From the Division of Plastic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and the Departments of Biological Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Received for publication January 18, 2012; accepted June 18, 2012.

The first two authors contributed equally.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest in any of the products or devices mentioned in this article.

Jongyoon Han, Ph.D.; 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. 02139,

Samuel J. Lin, M.D.; 110 Francis Street, Lowry Suite 5A, Boston, Mass. 02215,

©2012American Society of Plastic Surgeons