It sounds like something you'd hear from an infomercial at three in the morning: Ultrasound that can speed up your healing.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, however, such a thing may become a reality sooner than later. The authors utilized low-intensity ultrasonic waves to stimulate the healing of aged and diabetic mice, reducing their recovery time by 30 percent when compared to a control group.

Even more importantly, a related experiment by the authors was able to demonstrate a similar effect on wounded human cells taken from the legs of ulcer patients, indicating that the ultrasound technique can work on people as well.

Normally, in young and healthy individuals, the cells responsible for closing up our skin wounds (fibroblasts) are signaled to action by fibronectin, through activation of the protein RAC1. But as we age or are beset by chronic conditions like diabetes, the efficiency of that pathway steadily declines, leaving us susceptible to chronically open, slow healing wounds. According to the authors, as much as 2 to 5 percent of the population suffers from this deficiency.

But much like jimmying open a busted lock, the authors believe that the vibrations emitted by ultrasonic waves can induce RAC1 production, and thus the migration of fibroblasts onto a wound, without needing to involve fibronectin — essentially turning back the clock on our healing prowess.

“Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process,” said study author Dr. Mark Bass in a statement . “Because it is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn’t carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments.”

Though there’s still a lot of groundwork that has to be completed before these results can be verified, the authors are hopeful that ultrasound therapy can help those elderly and diabetic, both populations that are at higher risk of developing chronic ulcers. “Skin ulcers are excruciatingly painful for patients and in many cases can only be resolved by amputation of the limb,” said Bass.

Because of its non-invasive approach, estimated to be only slightly more powerful than the typical ultrasound procedure used during pregnancy, Bass estimates that the technique could find itself utilized regularly soon — though it still needs fine-tuning.

“Now that we have proven the effectiveness of ultrasound we need to explore the signal further. We have found that the ultrasound signal we currently use is effective, but it is possible that by refining the treatment we could improve the effects even further,” said Bass. “Because ultrasound is relatively risk free we could expect to see it in broad clinical use within three or four years.”

Source: Roper J, Williamson R, Bally B, et al. Ultrasonic Stimulation of Mouse Skin Reverses the Healing Delays in Diabetes and Aging by Activation of Rac1. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2015