Transforming decades’ old methodology, electromechanical reshaping (EMR) may someday replace traditionally destructive surgical techniques with a less invasive means of cartilage reshaping for reconstructive and esthetic facial surgery. Electromechanical reshaping is essentially accomplished through the application of voltage to a mechanically deformed cartilage specimen. While the capacity of the method for effective reshaping has been consistently shown, its associated effects on cartilage mechanical properties are not fully comprehended. To begin to explore the mechanical effect of EMR on cartilage, the tangent moduli of EMR-treated rabbit septal and auricular cartilage were calculated and compared to matched control values. Between the two main EMR parameters, voltage and application time, the former was varied from 2–8 V and the latter held constant at 2 min for septal cartilage, 3 min for auricular cartilage. Flat platinum electrodes were used to apply voltage, maintaining the flatness of the specimens for more precise mechanical testing through a uniaxial tension test of constant strain rate 0.01 mm/s. Above 2 V, both septal and auricular cartilage demonstrated a slight reduction in stiffness, quantified by the tangent modulus. A thermal effect was observed above 5 V, a newly identified EMR application threshold to avoid the dangers associated with thermoforming cartilage. Optimizing EMR application parameters and understanding various side effects bridge the gap between EMR laboratory research and clinical use, and the knowledge acquired through this mechanical study may be one additional support for that bridge.

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