For some cosmetic surgery patients, actually going under the knife for an operation isn’t their main consideration. Instead, how effectively they will heal afterwards and whether or not there will be any scarring is their chief concern, particularly if they are undergoing a body contouring procedure such as a tummy tuck or arm lift that will entail more extensive incisions.
For most, the benefits in improved shape far outweigh the scarring that is left afterwards, but although scars will fade over time, doctors are always looking for new ways to improve the process and to help the body heal in the most effective way possible.
According to new research published by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, a recent breakthrough has enabled wounds to heal by regenerating its own tissue so effectively it does not form a scar. “The method involves transforming the most common type of cells found in wounds into fat cells – something that was previously thought to be impossible in humans.”
What causes scars to form?
In the normal composition of skins cells, cells known as ‘adipocytes’, or fat cells are present. When a wound is suffered and begins to heal, the skin produces a different kind of cell called ‘myofibroblasts’. These cells fuse together as the wound heals, but they do not knit together as closely as the original cells; they fuse to form scar tissue, which is harder and less flexible compared with normal skin cells, they also do not contain any hair follicles, so look and feel different from normal skin.
How does this new process work?
The new process is very clever – it essentially transforms myofibroblasts into adipocytes, which means they take on the healing properties of normal skin, rather than form into scar tissue. This was previously believed to be impossible, as previous tests involving this process had failed.
“Typically, myofibroblasts were thought to be incapable of becoming a different type of cell,” Dr George Cotsarelis, the chair of the Department of Dermatology and the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor of Dermatology at Penn, and the principal investigator of the project, said. “But our work shows we have the ability to influence these cells, and that they can be efficiently and stably converted into adipocytes.”
This is an exciting development in the cosmetic surgery industry as your plastic surgeon will carefully plan the procedure to ensure that incisions are minimal and placed in such a way for optimal scar formation. Warwickshire cosmetic surgeon Mr Alan Park will also provide you with comprehensive aftercare advice to ensure a smooth wound healing process. Knowing that there could be a window of opportunity where the risk of scarring for patients could be significantly reduced is definitely something we will be keeping a close eye on as research in this area continue.