Stem cell therapy for facial rejuvenation is being hailed as the latest, most natural and effective way to reverse the signs of aging – but what treatments are available and how effective are they really? Dr. Anne Dancey, visiting physician at Pensum Regenerative Medicine, explains.
Words by Dr. Anne Dancey.
Because stem cells have the ability to differentiate into heart, skin, brain or other specialised cells, they can be harnessed to repair, regrow and replace damaged or diseased cells. Regenerative medicine therefore has the potential to treat injuries, autoimmune diseases and orthopaedic conditions, but it is also increasingly being used in cosmetic procedures.
In addition to harvesting stem cells, regenerative medicine makes use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is a substance derived by separating the plasma in the patient’s blood and treating it to increase the growth factors which in turn accelerate healing. Although developed to treat sports injuries such as tendon and ligament issues, PRP is also now being used to rejuvenate skin.
THE AGING PROCESS
Skin ageing is a natural, unavoidable fact of life, but it can be worsened by external factors such as sun exposure and smoking. Skin begins to age from our mid-20s, with fine lines and dryness being the first noticeable signs. As it progresses, in our 40s and 50s we experience loss of volume and the appearance of wrinkles. After age 50 skin elasticity weakens, wrinkles deepen, and skin becomes loose.
In skin with mild to moderate ageing, rejuvenating treatments aim to restore volume. For years, injecting fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm into areas that had lost volume was the treatment of choice. It is quick, non-invasive and results are immediate. However, as fillers are broken down by the body over time, the effects last only a few months.
Fat grafting: A more natural alternative is fat transfer, also known as fat grafting. This involves removing a small amount of fat from the patient’s thighs or abdomen and injecting it into the face. This improves contours, fills in defects and because fat is high in stem cells, it is believed these go to work repairing damaged tissue and improving texture. Although a certain amount of the fat will be lost, around 50% to 70% survives, giving longer-lasting results than fillers.
Stem cell and PRP enhanced fat grafting: In order to both improve and prolong results; fat grafting may be enhanced with stem cells.
One method is to super-saturate the fat with stem cells. The other is to enrich it with PRP. The theory is that these will help the fat survive and increase the skin’s ability to heal.
These procedures take 90 minutes and can be performed under local or general anaesthetic. Patients are discharged the same day.
Micro-needling: A non-invasive facial treatment, micro-needling involves using a derma pen to make multiple minute incisions in the skin. These tiny ‘injuries’ activate the skin’s healing response, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.
PRP facials (also known as Vampire Facials) combine micro-needling with the application of PRP onto the skin, which is believed to penetrate into deeper layers through the incisions.
Whilst stem cells and fat grafting play a significant role in facial rejuvenation, they are best suited to younger patients with minimal to moderate skin laxity. For older patients with deep grooves and laxity of the neck and jowls, by far the best result is achieved with a combination of fat grafting and a facelift.
Tel: 345 949 8676 | Cell: 345 939 4505
13 Belmont Close, Crewe Road, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Dr. Anne Dancey is based in London and will be in Cayman Dec 2020 to Feb 2021.
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