What's behind the mask? A look at blood flow changes with prolonged facial pressure and expression using laser Doppler imaging.

Burn Center, Washington Hospital Center, Washington DC 20010, USA.
Journal of burn care & research: official publication of the American Burn Association (Impact Factor: 1.54). 01/2010; 31(3):441-7. DOI: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181db5250
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Clinically, the initial blanching in burn scar seen on transparent plastic face mask application seems to diminish with time and movement requiring mask alteration. To date, studies quantifying perfusion with prolonged mask use do not exist. This study used laser Doppler imaging (LDI) to assess perfusion through the transparent face mask and movement in subjects with and without burn over time. Five subjects fitted with transparent face masks were scanned with the LDI on four occasions. The four subjects without burn were scanned in the following manner: 1) no mask, 2) mask on while at rest, 3) mask on with alternating intervals of sustained facial expression and rest, and 4) after mask removal. Images were acquired every 3 minutes throughout the 85-minute study period. The subject with burn underwent a shortened scanning protocol to increase comfort. Each face was divided into five regions of interest for analysis. Compared with baseline, mask application decreased perfusion significantly in all subjects (P < .0001). Perfusion did not change during the rest period. There were no significant differences with changing facial expression in any of the regions of interest. On mask removal, all regions of the face demonstrated a hyperemic effect with the chin (P = .05) and each cheek (P < .0001) reaching statistical significance. Perfusion levels did not return to baseline in the chin and cheeks after 30 minutes of mask removal. Perfusions remain constantly low while wearing the face mask, despite changing facial expressions. Changing facial expressions with the mask on did not alter perfusion. Hyperemic response occurs on removal of the mask. This study exposed methodology and statistical issues worth considering when conducting future research with the face, pressure therapy, and with LDI technology.

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