In 2012, the scientist Shinya Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research proving that by activating only four protein signaling factors within mammalian cells, the effects of aging in an adult cell could be undone thereby erasing all the effects of aging that it had experienced since birth. In other words, up-regulating these four genetic sequences, now called the ‘Yamanaka factors’, could induce an ‘ageless’ new cell from an adult cell, essentially making them functionally identical to an embryonic stem cell. This discovery helps explain how two adult cells, one from the father and the other from the mother, can at conception create an ageless new cell or pluripotent stem cell.
Think about that for a moment… these newly created stem cells, also called ‘pluripotent’ cells, are capable of differentiating into any or all human cell types and tissues, making them an exciting possibility in many future, and even present therapies, some with the potential to reverse the effects of aging or possibly offer a cure for the untreatable disease.
Aging is a universal and ongoing process for all living organisms, tissues, and cells. We are living longer than ever before in human history and the increase in lifespan is occurring at an unprecedented pace and is expected to continue. Although aging may be an inevitability, studies and research have confirmed that the rate and manifestations of aging can certainly be impacted by the lifestyle we choose. Our ‘lifespan’ or how long we live is not the same as our ‘health span’ which refers to how well we live or the quality of our lives. Healthspan may be considered as the ‘life in our years’ and defined as the portion of life spent in good health, both physically and emotionally, and free from disease and the various disabilities of aging.
One major challenge has been that our healthspan has not been keeping up with our life span… delaying mortality is certainly not as beneficial as maximizing health and wellness. The definition of ‘health’ is changing. The old definition of aging and health involved the absence of illness and a reactive process of treating disease. The new science of aging can be defined as a proactive process of optimizing health and wellness and preventing disease. Based on clinical data and research in artificial intelligence (AI), we now have a huge opportunity to enjoy better and longer lives if we proactively focus on improving wellness rather than the traditional process of reactively treating the negative consequences of aging.
One of the most exciting and impactful achievements in plastic surgery in the last 20 years is happening now and undoubtedly involves the exciting field of regenerative medicine which refers to utilizing natural biological processes to replace, restore and regenerate aging or damaged cells and tissues. Regenerative medicine techniques are already becoming a reality in plastic surgery and aesthetics in several applications for clinical care at EVOLV Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics. Here a just a few examples:
Restoring youthful skin; powerful topical growth factors derived from stem cells or bio-identical signaling proteins can dramatically enhance new collagen and cell production improving outcomes in medical skincare programs.
Nonsurgical hair restoration: stem cells grown in tissue culture can provide specific growth factors and other rejuvenative components termed exosomes that can be combined with energy microneedling to revive dying follicles and regenerate new hair growth while improving scalp health.
– True anti-aging skin therapy: Broad band light (BBL) has been proven in genetic mapping studies at Stanford to reactivate inactive genes in skin cells thus restoring the cell function to a more youthful state and truly ‘reversing’ aging in the skin at the genetic level.
– Body Contouring: A patient’s own stem cells can be mechanically extracted from their own excess fat after liposuction and then used to powerfully enhance the benefits of fat graft transfer in buttocks or breast augmentation.
– Comprehensive Facial Rejuvenation: The natural results of aesthetic facial procedures can be significantly improved and prolonged with stem cell technology in facial fat grafting and skin rejuvenation procedures.
The impact of new science in anti-aging for plastic surgery and aesthetic patient care has become a clinical reality and is truly exciting. It is our passion at EVOLV to bring the benefits of rejuvenative medicine together with emerging education in optimal health and wellness to truly improve not only the longevity but also the health span or quality of living for our patients, coworkers, and families. Successful and natural appearing aesthetic and cosmetic surgery and procedures have been proven to positively impact the quality of life for patients of any age or gender. Negative attitudes of aging matter, as there is increasing evidence to support the importance of psychological well-being in human functioning and the protective role of psychological wellness in health, lowering the risk of disease and disability, and increasing longevity. One important recent study revealed that individuals who reported positive self-perceptions of aging lived nearly 7.5 years longer than comparable individuals who reported negative perceptions of their aging! It appears that attitude does indeed matter.
A growing body of evidence confirms that daily exercise and improved nutrition as well as emotional attachment and positive psychological well-being, are the major determinants of living longer, better.
Aging may be inevitable… but how we age is up to us and the lifestyle we choose.