Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to age slowly and gracefully? Instead, it is marked with the development of lines around our eyes and mouths, with the appearance of age spots on our faces, arms and hands, with sagging, soft skin and more.
It does not have to be that way, though. Stem cell treatments promise to revolutionize the anti-aging industry, providing powerful tools for skin rejuvenation. Is this treatment option right for you, though? What should you know about it?
Why Skin Ages in the First Place
According to assistant professor in dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center, Suzan Obagi in an article for Scientific American,
“Intrinsic aging is the natural aging process that takes place over the years, regardless of outside influences. After the age of 20, a person produces about 1% less collagen in the skin each year.
As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile as we age. There is also diminished functioning of the sweat and oil glands, less elastin production, and less GAG formation (Glycosaminoglycans' (GAG) primary role is to maintain and support collagen). Wrinkle formation as a result of intrinsic aging is inevitable but slight.”
However, there is also extrinsic aging to worry about. This is a combination of lifestyle and environmental factors, such as not wearing sunblock, or exposure to toxins where you work or live, dietary choices that lead to diseases like diabetes, and more. Extrinsic aging speeds up the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, results in the appearance of age spots, and more.
While prevention of exposure to toxins, prolonged and unprotected sun exposure, and the like can help, they cannot stop the aging process. Despite the use of creams and supplements, oils and cleansers, your skin will still age. Stem cell therapy may be able to slow that progression, though.
What Are Stem Cells?
You can think of stem cells as the building blocks of your entire body. These cells are central to your body’s repair and rejuvenation system, and play a critical role in overall health and wellness. During embryo formation, stem cells are present before any other type, and they eventually develop into all cell types found in your body, including bone, muscle, ligaments and tendons, and, of course, skin. Stem cells are the key to your body’s genetic repair system.
How Do Stem Cells Rejuvenate Your Skin?
Stem cells are unique in that they can become any other type of cell in order to replace damaged tissue, to repair damage done, create new tissue and for other reasons. And, while there are specialized types of stem cells in the body, any stem cell can become any type of tissue given sufficient need.
There are several ways in which stem cells may be able to rejuvenate your skin. One of the most important to understand is simply increasing your body’s stem cell count. Over time and through the natural aging process, your body’s stem cells accumulate genetic damage. Each self-replication can cause damage, which may then be carried into the next generation, and so on, eventually causing the cell to lose energy and effectiveness, and then to die. In fact, by the time you reach the age of 65, your body’s stem cell count has dropped by 90%.
So, while stem cells are always present in the body, they decrease in number and effectiveness over time. An infusion of new stem cells can help to bring your body’s count of energetic, young stem cells back up. With more active, energetic stem cells, your body can begin the process of healing itself, including rejuvenating your skin from the inside out.
An infusion of stem cells may be able to help improve the elasticity and thickness of skin, as well as addressing the damage done by some environmental factors. That may include helping to reduce not just the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but also sunspots and other blemishes. More available, high-energy stem cells also ensure better skin cell health, more even skin tone, and improved skin fullness.
Allogeneic vs. Autologous Stem Cells
Before considering skin rejuvenation with stem cells, understand that there are two types in use today – autologous and allogenic. They are very different, and do not deliver the same potential benefits.
Autologous stem cells are your body’s own stem cells, harvested from fat tissue or other areas of the body, and then cultured to increase the cell count before being injected into a problem area. Obviously, these cells have the same problems we’ve already discussed. Namely, they are old, have lost most of their energy, and have accumulated a great deal of damage over time.
Allogeneic stem cells, on the other hand, are harvested from banked umbilical cord blood and tissue. These cells are young and highly energetic. Because of their extreme youth, they have not accumulated any damage, and have decades of safe self-replication ahead of them. As such, allogeneic stem cells are the best suited for treating human beings, and can deliver far superior results to autologous stem cells.
In the end, stem cells may be able to help rejuvenate your skin and allow you to recapture your youthful appearance. However, the right type of stem cells must be used (allogeneic mesenchymal), and it is important that you understand all stem cell treatments are experimental and none are FDA approved. It is also important to work with a medical expert who has in-depth experience with allogenic stem cells, and the best administration methods to help you achieve your stated outcomes.