“Malleable” Biomaterial Suitable for Soft Facial Tissue Replacements

There is no shortage of materials that can reliably be shaped and molded to replace hard components like bone when doing reconstructive surgery. But suitable replacement for soft tissues, particularly for facial use, is lacking. Those that are available leave much to be desired and are particularly problematic when used for correcting bigger deformities.

But researchers at John Hopkins University developed an injectable biomaterial that is transplantable. This new material can help in rebuilding the usually hard to fix parts. It is half-synthetic and half-biological and is straight-forward to administer, requiring no surgery. It can be shaped after being injected then set in place using green light.

The material is a blend of hyaluronic acid – a biological component already used for tissue replacement – and polyethylene glycol, the synthetic component. It can be plied after injection allowing doctors to shape it to proper form before setting it using green LED light of a specific wavelength.