Stem cells and cosmetic treatments—what potential for great news! If stem cells are the key to miraculous medical advances just over the horizon, they must also hold a great deal of promise for the aesthetic industry. Rejuvenation! Repair! Regrowth! It all should be possible with these powerful little building blocks, right? Maybe even a miraculous skin care product? Or stem cell breast augmentation?
There will surely be ways to apply stem cell research to a variety of areas of aesthetic medicine in the future. Medical pioneers are working on it, and some products and procedures are already being touted. But in these early days, you may need to wade through a great deal of hype. Here’s some information that may help.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a website where you can educate yourself on the fundamentals: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basic. One of the first things you’ll learn is that there are two basic types of stem cells: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells, derived from fertilized human embryos, are the amazing undifferentiated cells that eventually turn into specific muscle cells, brain cells, skin cells and more.
Adult stem cells, also called somatic cells, are also widely believed to be undifferentiated, but are found among differentiated cells in muscle tissue and organs. Their function appears to be to remain quiet until disease or injury triggers them to become active and reproduce. Scientists have already found ways to reprogram adult stem cells to become more like embryonic cells.
The potential medical uses for both types of stem cells are numerous and intriguing. One of the most exciting possible applications is what’s known as cell-based therapy, in which stem cells would be directed to differentiate into new specific tissues needed by patients with diabetes, spinal cord injuries, burns, heart disease and many more life-threatening conditions.
Even though the world of stem cell therapies is in its infancy, hype about stem cells is already out there in aesthetic medicine. The first place you may discover it is in the many skin care products that claim to rely on stem cell technology.