Massage rollers are commonly used in beauty treatments to help stimulate the skin, aiding circulation and giving a more youthful and glowing appearance. But their effects on blood flow and the vascular system have remained unclear. Now a small study by Japanese researchers, however, has given some scientific backing to the subject.
Researchers from the Institute for Liberal Arts at the Tokyo Institute of Technology found that using a face roller can increase skin blood flow for more than 10 minutes after a massage. It was also suggested that the use of rollers can improve vasodilation – the widening of blood vessels – in the long-term.
The research team conducted short- and long-term experiments involving the participation of 26 healthy male and female volunteers to examine the effects of using a massage roller on facial skin and blood flow.
Among the findings of the short-term experiments were that even a five-minute massage resulted in “significantly increased facial skin blood flow” in the massaged cheek, with a relative change of up to around 25 per cent.
“The increase in skin blood flow after applying the massage roller persisted much longer than we had expected,” the study says. “Short-term mechanical stimulation by a facial massage roller increased skin blood flow for more than 10 minutes solely in the massaged cheek.”
In the long-term experiment, the researchers examined the effects of daily massage on the right cheek over a five-week period. They also examined the reactivity of facial blood vessels to a heat stimulus, involving application of a heating probe set at 40°C, in order to test whether there were any changes in vascular dilation response.
Findings from the long-term study suggested that using a roller improved blood flow response, or the so-called vasodilatory response, to heat stimulation. One explanation for this could be that endothelial cells in the massaged area produce more nitric oxide, which is known to be a potent vasodilator.
The research was published in November 2018 in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal.