The Holy Grail of Antiaging Medicine?
By Dr. Kimberly Moskowitz
The Holy Grail is rivaled by few myths in its power to intrigue … this vessel was believed by many to be a source of endless nourishment and regeneration. Mysterious and glorious, like hope for eternal youth, the Holy Grail symbolizes an elusive object of desire. Decades of research have finally uncovered that the holy grail of antiaging medicine may be found within our own blood.
Blood is a natural reservoir of healing cells, particularly platelets, which release growth factors, stem cells, and bioactive proteins that accelerate healing and regeneration. Growth factors stimulate the healing process by recruiting fibroblasts that increase collagen production, remove aged and damaged tissue, and stimulate cellular regeneration. A concentration of platelets, a.k.a. platelet-rich plasma (PRP), optimizes healing because it contains up to 600 percent more growth factors than a normal volume of blood
In one process, PRP is collected from your own blood and reinjected just beneath the skin’s surface, where it triggers a cascade of accelerated healing and renewal. PRP helps your body do everything it tries to do on its own but can’t accomplish because there aren’t enough healing factors in one place at the same time.
Boosting collagen production and replacing volume and elasticity is big business in the cosmetic industry, as people desperately seek to erase their fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Wrinkles and sunspots do not occur overnight; rather, skin photoaging accumulates slowly as the sun’s UV rays damage cellular DNA and inhibit cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for producing collagen in our skin and tissues. Inhibition of fibroblast proliferation, decreased collagen synthesis, and increased collagen degradation account for 95 percent of prematurely aged skin. As we age, the damage we accumulate eventually overcomes the body’s natural ability to repair itself.
The field of antiaging medicine has enjoyed an enormous shift toward less invasive treatments, as surgical procedures have been replaced with laser treatments such as Fraxel Restore and Fraxel Repair. These laser treatments reverse the aging of skin by creating microscopic wounds in the skin’s dermis. These tiny wounds cause immediate contraction and tightening of the skin by stimulating the body’s natural healing process to produce abundant new collagen and elastin. Fraxel Repair, the gold-standard treatment for antiaging skin, capitalizes on the fact that our bodies hang in the dynamic balance of injury and repair. Can we circumvent this paradox by capturing the ingredients of repair and using them for regeneration and renewal?
A new era of antiaging medicine has emerged as the technology of the “Laser Light Age” collides with our exploration of self-healing and regeneration. People are learning how to combine nonsurgical treatments like Fraxel and Thermage with the body’s natural resources to maximize the power of platelets and growth factors for healing and rejuvenation. Our bodies are constantly battling the aging process, but the troops are tired; they don’t have enough weapons and they are too spread out to win the war. PRP brings all of the forces together and energizes our tissues with the weapons they need to combat collagen loss, wrinkles, sun damage, and aging. PRP may not be able to mend a broken heart, but it can heal the wounds of time. The secret to eternal youth has been inside us all along.
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