Look Inside Ourselves for Skin and Hair Rejuvenation
Can our own blood and stem cells rejuvenate our skin and make our hair grow? Aging can be more apparent in our skin than in any other part of our body. A combination of newer treatments can give us back a younger looking skin, with minimal or no downtime. New treatments with stem cells proteins are very promising for hair growth for men and women.
Skin starts to age slowly due to a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure. Studies done in bioidentical twins have shown that even if the “bad” genes are present, the environment is responsible for many of the changes: exposure to the sun, wind, smoking, type of foods we eat and frequent changes in body weight are the most common ones. The skin becomes thicker in some areas and very thin in others. The term “leather-like” is when the normal moisture disappears and skin looks dry, dull, wrinkles appear, sun spots develop and fat loss tends to make the skin sag. Prevention – including the use of sunblock daily moisturizers and retinol creams – plays a big role in avoiding some of this damage. A consultation with a knowledgeable aesthetician is very important in order to get the proper recommendations for regular preventive care.
Two new non-surgical treatments can help reverse some of the signs of skin aging: platelet rich plasma (PRP) and advances adipose-derived protein extracts (AAPE). The treatments can be done individually or combined for stronger and faster results.
PRP has been also known as part of the “Vampire Facelift.” Platelets are very rich in growth factors, causing initially a mild inflammation that helps to remodel tissue, then new collagen gets deposited, new blood vessels form, and local stem cells get stimulated. All this results in thicker skin, with significant reduction of fine wrinkles, increased moisture and overall radiance. Some of the sun damage reverses since many age spots will disappear. PRP does not increase the volume in the mid-face, so the name “Vampire Facelift” is really a misnomer. When volume is also needed, the treatment is combined with injection of facial fillers. The platelets are extracted from your own blood, so the process requires a blood draw, spinning of the blood to separate the platelets, and activation of the platelets. PRP can be then either injected under the skin using very fine needles or a special roller. No matter which method is used, there is no downtime, just very mild inflammation that resolves within a few hours. Usually the requirement is one to three treatments, every 30 days depending upon the existing skin damage.
AAPE is a new medical product that has a concentrated group of growth factors produced by fat stem cells. These special proteins produce an anti-wrinkle effect (increase thickness of the skin up to 30%), skin whitening effect (inhibits melanin synthesis by at least 50%) and antioxidant effect. There is no allergic reaction to this product and application can be done with a microneedle. There is no downtime; just some very mild soreness. This treatment is effective for face, neck, decollete and hands. Usually three to four treatments, a month apart, are required. If combined the first time with PRP, then results are quicker and more dramatic.
Hair Thickening and Growth
AAPE has also been shown to stimulate thickening of hair and new hair growth by directly stimulating the hair follicle. Studies published in the medical journals show the benefit of this treatment in men and women. Application is done with a microneedle and requires monthly treatments for 6-8 months. Hair grows slowly and in cycles, and follicles need to be stimulated during those cycles. There is no recovery time. The combination of PRP and AAPE during the first treatments increases the success of this treatment.
The use of stem cells and growth factors to heal ourselves is becoming more common in our medical practice as we are able to understand better how our body repairs itself in a daily basis. The future of many treatments will depend on this.