Woman with wrinkles

Freezing wrinkles could be an alternative to Botox injections. Photo: Getty

The next time someone accuses a celebrity of having a frozen face, it could be a literal insult.

Promising results have emerged in a study by the California-based MyoScience, Inc, that injected nerves connected to wrinkled foreheads with coldness, causing the skin to relax into a lineless finish.

"It's a toxin-free alternative to treating unwanted lines and wrinkles, similar to what is being done with Botox and Dysport," study co-author and director of facial plastic surgery at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Dr. Francis Palmer, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

"From the early clinical trials, this procedure -- which its maker calls 'cryoneuromodulation' -- appears to have the same clinical efficacy and safety comparable to the existing techniques," added the Los Angeles plastic surgeon.

During the 15-minute treatment, researchers used thin needles called 'cryoprobes' to shoot cold into temporal branch of the frontal nerve, which is located around the eyes and forehead. According to Palmer, the cold interrupts nerve signaling by freezing the passage, which relaxes the grip of muscles that bunch up and cause forehead lines.

Once the cold passes through, the nerve regains regular body temperature within moments, though the nerve signal remains silenced for the three to four month period of time that is comparable to length of time Botox lasts.

Researchers say the shot doesn't cause any permanent damage. However, further testing is required to hone in on the proper technique, as well as, expand the testing group beyond the initial 31 people who took part in the study.

Study authors claim significant results were seen after two to eight injections. Side effects cited by participants included headaches and redness at the injection site, plus pain levels that coincided with those of Botox and filler administrations.

However, some experts are hesitant about the new technology.

"A significant concern is that darker complexions might be at risk for damage to their skin's pigmentation from the procedure, as melanocytes are exquisitely sensitive to cold temperatures," Maryland dermatologist Noelle Sherber tells StyleList.

There is also a question of the lack of artistic control the physician may have over the substance, which Sherber fears could make for unattractive and obvious results.

"When it first came on the market, physicians were using Botox to render people's faces immobile, with bloggers taking delight in identifying Botox-ed celebrities by dead giveaways like Spock brows. As a more modern approach, my goal is not for areas of the face to be motionless, but rather to be smoothed. Most of my patients now want a subtle look from their Botox treatments," explains Sherber.

"It seems that this technology's effect would be difficult to modulate, and that it might give an all-or-none result, which would lead to the more dated, frozen-faced look," says Sherber.

So far, results have only been presented to the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) meeting in Grapevine, Texas, this past week. Scholars say the study must be published in a peer-reviewed journal before they're taken seriously by the medical community.

Word is, MyoScience, Inc will begin the process for FDA approval for the technique, though some say the company may first search out acceptance in the laxer European market, where cosmetic surgery regulations tend not to be as stringent.

Who's up for a freeze?

And in other skin news, you'll want to find out if your sunscreen is dangerous.