Advancing the Science

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September 20, 2021

A regenerative refresh to cosmetic procedures

By Susan Buckles

Mayo Clinic has launched a regenerative cosmetic service for patients aimed at resetting the body's clock to a time of more youthful function and appearance. The Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center at Mayo Clinic in Arizona pairs general and facial plastic surgery with dermatologists, gynecologists, vascular surgery, urologists and aestheticists to deliver services grounded in scientific evidence and the latest regenerative technologies.

Michael Hinni, M.D.

"The emotional and psychosocial benefits of cosmetic surgery are well-researched and clearly documented. It can literally give people their life back," says Michael Hinni, M.D., medical director of the Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center in Arizona. "The Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Surgery Center strives to go beyond improving appearance to restoring health. Our procedures are backed by safety data and delivered by board-certified specialists."

Regenerative medicine is an emerging field that seeks to repair, replace or restore damaged or diseased cells, tissues or organs. Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine is at the vanguard of this movement. It supports the Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center as part of its objective of advancing a regenerative approach to clinical care.

Going beyond standard treatments

Treatments aimed at rewinding tissues to a younger physical condition often focus on standard botulinum toxin, or Botox, injections and surgeries such as face-lifts. While the Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center provides standard care, it also offers regenerative options, such as:

  • Rebuilding facial structures after traumatic injury or cancer.
  • Improving the appearance of acne and scars.
  • Treating skin fibrosis from cancer radiation therapy.
  • Treating women's health issues, such as incontinence.
Brittany Howard, M.D.

"Mayo is the one medical center where we bridge the science and research around cosmetics, facial reconstruction and regenerative medicine to provide new options for addressing unmet patient needs, particularly after cancer or traumatic injury," says Brittany Howard, M.D., an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon in Arizona.

Mayo Clinic has several services that offer a regenerative approach to cosmetic surgery.

Fat grafts to rejuvenate appearance

Fat grafting, also called fat injection, is a procedure that surgically transfers a patient's adipose, or fat, tissue from one area of the body to another to try to restore natural curves and fullness. Research has documented that adipose tissue is brimming with mesenchymal stem cells that promote healing and stromal vascular fraction cells that reduce inflammation, replace damaged cells and trigger tissue regeneration. Both types of stem cells have been well-studied and found to be safe.

"One of the things that happens with age is the face hollows. Rather than do eyelid surgery and face-lift surgery, we offer surgery to move the fat pads into more appropriate places," says Dr. Hinni. "We believe scientific data show it to be an effective way to help heal damaged tissue and restore the fullness of a youthful appearance."

Fat grafting is a reconstructive, cosmetic procedure for people who want to try to reverse effects of disease, trauma, congenital defects, cancer or aging.

Platelet-rich plasma for skin renewal, hair loss

Platelets spun from a person's blood and injected through microneedles to the surface layers of skin is a regenerative procedure for aging and sun-damaged tissue. Known as platelet-rich plasma, this concentration of plasma contains natural growth factors and extracellular vesicles that function like a cargo service delivering healing messages to exact tissues in need of repair.

"With platelet-rich plasma, you actually see a reset of the genes that are being transcribed by the cells. The cells will go back to producing proteins and genes more along the profile of what they were like 10 years ago versus an individual's actual age," says Dr. Howard.

Platelet-rich plasma injections are also a new treatment option for alopecia — hair loss and baldness. Research at Mayo Clinic in Florida discovered that platelet-rich plasma worked as well as topical treatments or pills to activate hair regrowth and had no significant side effects.

"With platelet-rich plasma, you actually see a reset of the genes that are being transcribed by the cells."


Laser therapy to renew skin

Laser therapy removes skin layer by layer to harness the regenerative potential of new tissue that is forming underneath and making its way to the surface. Lasers have been shown in research to augment scar tissue and other skin damage by normalizing collagen and balancing essential growth factors needed in the healing process.

Collagen is a protein that contributes to the skin's foundation. Laser treatments, which have been used frequently for cosmetic procedures, are now a useful therapy for repairing skin conditions such as burn scars that can be painful and limit mobility.

"You're resetting the genes from where you and I are today back to an earlier time point in our lives. So it does not just do a surface improvement, but also at the genetic level brings our cells back to a younger point," says Dr. Howard.


Laser therapies at Mayo Clinic include:

  • Pulsed dye laser
    In this therapy, a beam of yellow light is used to try to improve scar appearance and texture by controlling the local immune system and blood vessels.
  • Ablative fractional resurfacing
    In this therapy, a carbon dioxide laser delivers microbeams of energy that stimulate the body to produce new collagen in the skin.
  • Fractional ablative erbium, or YAG laser treatment
    In this therapy, a laser is used to stimulate collagen production to rejuvenate skin. This alternative to a chemical peel is aimed at improving appearance of wrinkles, age spots and fine lines.
  • Broad band light therapy
    This therapy is for age spots, sun damage, redness, broken facial vessels, wrinkles and dull skin. It can also reduce the appearance of freckles and birthmarks.
  • Intense pulsed light therapy
    This therapy is used to try to improve the color and texture of skin. It is used for conditions such as sun damage, acne, rosacea (redness) and vascular lesions.

Facial reconstruction after cancer, injury

Mayo Clinic's Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center has a regenerative approach to reconstructing facial features after debilitating effects of disease, cancer or traumatic injury. Using 3D printing models, Mayo Clinic can shape a nose, cheek or chin, and allow the patient to see the reconstruction and "try it on for size" before performing the surgery. This procedure also might be for a person who would like to make a change to his or her natural facial features.

Mayo Clinic continually refines its regenerative cosmetic procedures, compiling information to build a scientific database. The long-term goal is to conduct clinical trials to further understand how new technologies can spur the body's regenerative ability.

Procedures determined to be mainly a cosmetic benefit often are not covered by insurance. However, procedures that are necessary to heal disease, disfigurement or traumatic injuries, may be paid by insurance. Each person should check with his or her insurance plan.

To learn more or to make an appointment, call the Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center appointment line in Arizona at 480-342-2500.

Watch a video about the Multidisciplinary Cosmetic Center.

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This article originally published on the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.

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Tags: Brittany Howard, Center for Regenerative Medicine, fat grafting, Innovations, laser therapy, Michael Hinni, Multidisciolinary Cosmetic Center, News, platelet rich plasma, rhinoplasty

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